The Thirteen Best Horses in the World (Interview)
Anouk (age 9), Magnus (age 7). Interviewer: Drew Eisenhauer 2021
In “The Thirteen Best Horses in the World” I recounted our trip to the le Jura region of France and my resolution to start a blog from an American expatriot’s perspective. I thought I would get material by interviewing friends and strangers, but somehow those efforts never went anywhere. Finally, I got an interview with the kids in the backseat who had created an imaginative role playing game about the thirteen best horses in the world, only to have them apparently delete the recording! Later the lost tape turned up and managed to find itself here translated into English.
Many thanks to Tara Eisenhauer of Little Honey’s Little Adventures for the illustrations!
After reading, if you have two minutes and 37 seconds, consider poet Naomi Shihab Nye for more child wisdom. (Thanks to Tim Singleton for this suggestion.)
Interviewer: Could I ask you again the story of the 13 best horses? I can’t remember the names of the horses?
Anouk: Well, there are 13: the 13 Greatest Horses in the World…and some others...
Magnus: They all live in France, at the very end of Britany.
Anouk: Not necessarily all of them…
Int: Do they have names?
Magnus: Oui, but of course: Caramel, Chocolate, Pirouette, Ulyssa, Pépite (Nugget). There are a lot!
Anouk: There are lots of them, eh? We’re not going to count all of them, you know.
Int: OK, and, apparently, each horse has a special ability or power?
Anouk: Oui, oui!
Magnus: For example, Pépite eats things that are so good that …
Anouk: Non, non, non. In fact, Pépite, she is very, very picky and only eats the finest things, and so you can even eat her droppings …
Fabrice (father of Anouk from the front seat): Ew …
Magnus: Oh, yes they are very good!
Int: Ah-ha… and there’s another horse who is very cute?
Anouk: There is Myrtille (Blueberry), and she is a little filly! She loves to play in the blueberry bushes, and her mother is Pirouette who is very, very agile, so Myrtille is agile like her mother.
Int: What can Pirouette do?
Anouk: She can do pirouettes, and she can run really fast!
Fabrice (interupting, singing a French children’s song): “Il etait un petit homme. Pirouette, Cacahuètte. Qui avait un drôle de maison…“ (There was a little man. Pirouette, Peanut, who had a funny little house.)
Anouk (to Fabrice): Sshh!
Int: And Pirouette, she also has a colt?
Magnus: She has two children: Caramel and Myrtille, and her husband is Chocolate.
Int: And they are also known for their abilities?
He can put a caramel on his head and launch it into the air and catch it in his mouth; that’s why he’s called Caramel!
Magnus: Caramel can juggle. He can put a caramel on his head and launch it into the air and catch it in his mouth. And that’s why he’s called Caramel!
Anouk: Ulyssa, she can truly make everyone understand her emotions and a little bit the language of humans, too, you know?
Anouk: Yeah! She can really understand emotions…
Magnus: She really knows the lives of all or almost all…of the horses…
She collects the stories of all the horses and tells them to the humans so the humans can understand the language of the horses.
Anouk: Actually, she tells many stories about all the horses, so the humans can understand the language of the horses; Ulyssa can speak to them, just as if the humans could speak “Horse” and understand all that happens to the horses and their feelings, for example…
Int: So it’s Ulyssa who can do that?
Anouk and Magnus: Yes, she’s a mare!
Int: She collects the stories of all the horses and tells them to the humans so the humans can understand the stories of the horses.
They learn stuff at school…the hardest for them is to play Mikado.
Anouk: For example, if there is a fight between two horses, she goes out of the coral and tells the owners of the horses.
Magnus: The owners of all the horse are two kids named Charles and Louise.
Anouk: The horses lived with Charles and Louise during the Middle Ages, and, in fact, Charles and Louise are orphans and don’t have parents. The horses, actually, don’t have the same manner of education as humans because they don’t go to school, but Charles and Louise teach them.
And they do this stuff that’s really incredible; for example, they play at Mikado (which you know is harder when you have hooves and wear horseshoes) and there are other things; they teach them to drink from teacups just like people.
Magnus: They learn stuff at school, how to light the fire in the fireplace and the things that are the hardest for them to do is to play Mikado; they learn to open the dresser drawer — but that’s not hard because they have a handle in the shape of a loop that they can put a hoof through.
Int: Can you tell me more about the family of Caramel and Myrtille?
Magnus: Well, Granola and his wife Pépite got married to have their child Cookie, you know. Cookie is a shire horse (the biggest breed in the world); he is the biggest of all the colts and fillies. And what’s his talent, you are wondering? He is very curious and he can turn keys in door locks with his mouth and open the door and he can look through keyholes. And the parents of Tornado (the best friend of Myrtille who is named Tornado because he likes to play in the wind) are Cascade (who likes to play in water) and Athena…
Anouk: In fact, imagine that there is a giant podium, and the 13 best horses in the world are on the first platform of the podium, and Athena is one of the mares on the second platform of the podium. That’s already great!
Magnus: Imagine there are 3 categories, 3 groups of the horses on each podium and Athena is with her husband Cascade.
Anouk: Actually, there are three families with their children: Chocolate and Pirouette who had Blueberry and Caramel, Athena and Cascade who had Tornado, and Pepite and Granola who had Cookie, and they all live together.
Magnus: There are a lot of horses names based on food on the farm. And there is also Cloud who is as comfortable as a bed.
Anouk: So we can sleep on him. That’s one of the reasons he’s called Cloud. Cloud takes really, really long hikes, (to C2) but you already knew that —
Magnus: Yes, but the microphone didn’t know that.
Anouk: Oh! It’s on ?
Magnus: Alors…Cloud, when he was little, he was on a horrible farm with his friend Fleure, and Fleure grew up…
Anouk: They grew up with a trainer who was very, very bad, and he mistreated them, but he preferred Fleure… completely stupid…
Magnus: And when she grew up she had two colts — Morning Mist and Evening Shadow. The two names go together.
Anouk: Et voila! I believe we are finished!
Magnus: Wait.. and Morning Mist had a dream about a mare who resembled Pirouette. He didn’t know Pirouette, but he was sure that she must be a real horse, not an imaginary one because she seemed so real in the dream! So then Morning Mist asked his brother Evening Shadow to help find her.
Anouk: They started searching all the farms in Britany and at the second to the very last farm, they finally found Pirouette. So they became friends and stayed several days.
Magnus: Ok that’s all … of course, the story is not over, the 13 best horses in the world will go on and on, but for the interview, it’s really au revoir this time — until we have some more ideas…