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Iowa car has 140 horses under the hood - and one in the back seat
by Dan Brawner Columnist · October 26th, 2017

A few days ago, Hannah Waskel was driving around Altoona with a friend. When they stopped for a red light and looked over at the car next to them, one of the passengers staring back at them seemed a bit peculiar. It took Waskel a moment to realize that the odd passenger was actually a horse.

"We started laughing," said Waskel, "and the people driving the horse saw us and waved. They even rolled the window down for the horse."

Okay, it was a miniature horse, not a Clydesdale or anything. But still, it was a horse in a car.

Waskel later wrote: "This is the most Iowa thing that has ever happened to me."

Well, that may be overstating the case. A genetically modified toy horse riding calmly in the back seat of a compact car doesn't strike me as characteristically Iowan. On the other hand, if you look around this time of year, you might see a lot of critters looking ahead to winter and deciding that hooking up with humans might be the way to go.

All summer you hardly see a ladybug in the house. But now that nights are getting colder, ladybugs come dribbling in through tiny holes and cracks in the house like water through a leaky boat. Our storm windows are practically airtight, but somehow dozens of ladybugs slipped in and are now marching tirelessly around and around night and day.

Mice don't really like living with people. We're big and loud and keep disturbing their nests and sweeping up the little piles of food they have carefully gathered. But when it gets cold, mice shrug and make the best of it, finding some dark corner to last out the winter before spring comes and they can once again get some fresh air and decent food.

Our cat, Shavi, prefers to be outside. The house clearly bores her. When you've jumped into one laundry basket, you've jumped in them all. Sure, it may be fun to lounge on the kitchen table just for the drama of getting tossed off. But it's not like chasing squirrels. Still, when the temperature drops below 50 degrees, Shavi gets this serious look on her face whenever we open the front door. Now, she hesitates at the opening as if weighing her chances of survival in the event that nobody lets her back in.

Personally, I don't find it so strange that a little horse would rather ride in the back seat of a nice, heated car with soft seats and humans that lavish it with food and affection rather than laboriously trotting along on its own tiny feet, nibbling on lawns and weeds. Maybe it likes riding in cars because as it looks out the window, watching the scenery swoosh by, it imagines it is streaking though space like some equine superhero.

We would like to think animals hang out with us because they wish they could be human, too. But they don't really want to be like us. They just like our stuff.
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