Help A Bitch Out

Habo: Onan and the Horses

Emily Ryan-Davis writes:

Some friends and I were reminiscing over old WTF plots (weren’t they all?)
and I remembered one book that I THOUGHT was a Karen Robards historical, but
after doing some research I’m not so sure. Is there any chance we can ask
the HABO readership? Here are the deets (blurred by time as they may be):

Historical from the late 80s/early 90s. I believe it was a historical with a
western American setting. The heroine was taking shelter in a brothel that
had secret passageways and she was nearly raped in the kitchen with the aid
of a packet of bacon grease. The brothel kept a talking bird on the
premises, named Onan – after the masturbating Onan of Biblical reference -
because it jizzed all over the place. Does anybody remember the title of
this book? I have a vague memory of a white cover with brilliant peacock
feathers and the feathers were raised/embossed.

P.S. I think there was a hot and heavy ‘horses mating’ scene that got the
hero and heroine going, too.

How many historical romances featured couples who got all hot and bothered by watching horses mate? I know I’ve read at least a few – anyone remember this one?


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  1. 1
    Dena says:

    I distinctly remember reading at least two that featured people getting worked up over seeing horses go at it.

    I remember being fairly baffled by this, since I grew up around horses including seeing them bred/helping stand the mares, and it’s A.  Brief, B.  Awkward, and C.  Usually the mare is less than thrilled.

    Also again, BRIEF.  Seriously.  Thrust-thrust-thrust, done.

  2. 2
    Jennifer Armintrout says:

    Whoa, wait… birds jizz?

  3. 3
    Noelinya says:

    I don’t know this book, but I’ve read one where the people get hot by watching mammoths doing it.
    And what is this part about the bacon grease ?

  4. 4
    xaipe says:

    Whoa, wait… birds jizz?

    @Jennifer Armintrout, the Onan bird name joke I am familiar with has nothing to do with jizz—the bird is named Onan because he literally spills his seed on the ground. Either the OP is misremembering or the author of the book took a little witticism and made it unnecessarily gross.

  5. 5
    Sybylla says:

    Actually, I think Ayla gets hot both from watching the mammoths and from watching the horses.  (Although I think the mammoth scene is a little more WTF-tastic.)  Then again, I think Ayla got hot from watching rocks, so…

    already38 – Yes, there had already been 38 plot “twists” in Jean Auel’s books that made my brain go “bzuh?” before I gave up on them.

  6. 6
    Maria says:

    I didn’t find the book, but apparently Dorothy Parker had a parakeet she named Onan because he spilled his seed everywhere. (at least that’s how the interwebs have the story).


  7. 7
    Sandy D. says:

    I more disturbed by the bacon grease than by the bird or the horses.

  8. 8
    xaipe says:

    D’oh! Of course it was Dorothy Parker. (Not the HABO, the origin of the clever play on seed.)

  9. 9
    Elaine says:

    I’m with Dena.  I helped a friend by holding a mare being bred to her stallion, and my only reaction was a fervent hope that no one would get hurt.

  10. 10
    Diva says:

    Well this isn’t hlepful but one of the Janet Dailey Calder saga books had lots of horse mating in it. Yeah, should NOT have read those suckers when I was in jr. high.

  11. 11
    Sandra says:

    Whoa, wait… birds jizz?

    Well, I’ve got a parakeet who has definite fondness for one of his toys, if you know what I mean. It’s a cute little hanging toy with a tassel and a bell…

    eye19….yep, I’ve seen it with my own eyes, at least 19 times.

  12. 12
    Emily Ryan-Davis says:

    Even if a title isn’t forthcoming, I’m still amusedisturbed by the memory :) Thanks Sarah for putting it up.

    Re: the memory of Onan’s, er, role in the book – I don’t know. The impression I got was of ejaculation BUT I was probably 14 when I read this book so it’s possible my reading comprehension failed to pick up the literalness of bird seed. I do recall the brothel madame / girls tittered over the implication, though.

    And yes, the bacon grease was…something else. Very WTF.

  13. 13
    Maria says:

    I don’t think seed was a pun….but I could be wrong. Anyway, I hope someone figures this out, I’m intrigued.

  14. 14
    xaipe says:

    Pun is probably the wrong word—but if it’s not a double entendre then it’s not clever, and it just seems to work better if Bible Onan commits the sin (which I seem to recall was actually closer to pulling out than to masturbation) and Bird Onan has birdseed falling out of his cage.

  15. 15
    Cedar says:

    I do not think this is the book; however, wasn’t there a scene in Lavryle Spencer’s The Gamble where a couple get worked up after watching two horses boinking? It may not have been the hero and the heroine though – possibly a former prostitute and a deaf man.  It’s been years since I read it so I could be making this up.

  16. 16

    Long, long ago, a dean remarked to me that I was the only English major with a comparative anatomy elective.  Birds have cloacas.

  17. 17
    maggie P. says:

    Kat Martin had a book or two where the main characters got hot and heavy watching horses do it. One was in the old west I think, I don’t really remember the particulars.

  18. 18
    Amitatuq says:

    Well, I’ve got a parakeet who has definite fondness for one of his toys, if you know what I mean.

    My parakeet used to get all hot and bothered over anything.  The only time he ever “finished what he started” was on my cousin’s hand.  My mom had to comment, “Well, Sean, you should have at least made him buy you dinner first.”  :-D

  19. 19
    StarOpal says:

    Nora Roberts’ True Betrayals is a contemporary with the hot n heavy horse voyeur scene.

  20. 20
    AgTigress says:

    (which I seem to recall was actually closer to pulling out than to masturbation)

    Yes, it was.  The ‘sin’ of Onan was not really even coitus interruptus, which was what he did, at least according to the translations I have read, let alone masturbation, but rather, his refusal to follow the prescribed duty of impregnating his brother’s widow.
    On birds mating, as Virginia has reminded us, in most species it is unlike mammalian coitus in that the animals merely place their vents together.  But of course the male produces sperm.  This is still a good deal more intimate than the mating of most fishes, where the female first deposits her eggs, and the male then swims over them, depositing his sperm.
    However, there are some male fishes (e.g. guppies) that have developed an intromittent organ (modified anal fin, called the gonopodium), and these fishes are livebearers, giving birth to tiny fry rather than laying eggs.  Male guppies spend most of their time chasing the larger females, waving their little gonopodia enthusiastically.
    Likewise, there are some bird species that have male organs which are, in effect, penises (or penes, if you prefer); specifically swans, ducks (and, I think, cassowaries).  Which makes Leda’s experience more interesting than one might otherwise have expected.  Watch ducks in the spring, and you will see a lot of gang-banging that is often quite hard on the poor females.
    Sorry, got carried away there.  I am interested in zoology, too.
    Incidentally, although the mating of horses (and cattle) is very quick, I can well imagine that in certain circumstances, watching the stallion approaching the mare with his organ at the ready, rather than the actual mounting, might be sexually exciting.

  21. 21
    Milena says:

    waving their little gonopodia enthusiastically.

    This had me in stitches. I know, I should grow up.

  22. 22
    AgTigress says:

    Milena, it is so tempting to anthropomorphise!  I used to think of my female guppies as respectable ladies. Clad in their modest, subtle colours, they swam sedately with their minds on higher things, perhaps pondering deep thoughts of piscine philosophy.  Certainly nothing was further from their minds than sex.  The boys, however, were constantly showing off;  small and bright, bedizened in glowing colours and flaunting their long, diaphanous fins, they darted about quivering eagerly, and saying, ‘Hey, hey, look at me!  Look what I’VE got!!  HEY!’
    Sad to say, both sexes were equally inclined to eat newborn baby guppies if one did not take steps to prevent it…

  23. 23
    Laura (in PA) says:

    This site is an endless education.

  24. 24
    Lisa Hendrix says:

    To further the educational bent, I give you ducksecs (from the Guardian, with explanation of duck evolution and how the females in the aforementioned gang bang avoid total annihilation — I’ve seen it. It’s not pretty)

  25. 25
    Milena says:

    OMG. I think I’ll stick to guppies with their enthusiastic little gonopodia.

    spamword: planning69. If I were a duck, I really wouldn’t do that.

  26. 26
    Kinsey says:

    Sorry Em, have no idea about the book

    A few weeks ago we were watching a Dirty Jobs, the Diva and I. She has a very vague notion of procreation – knows it takes a male and female, knows animals “mate,” knows about menstruation and why it happens, knows dogs are born with testicles, but hasn’t put it all together, nor asked me to.

    So we’re watching Mike Rowe and he’s at a horse breeding operation, and I’m thinking we should change the channel but I know she’ll bitch b/c it’s one of her favorite shows, and the breeding guy says “well, Mike, we’re going to _________” – can’t remember how he phrased it but they were going to get semen from the stallion. Honestly can’t remember if they used a phantom mare or an artificial vagina, but they showed the whole thing and those few seconds lasted forever and I just sat there waiting for Diva to say, “Umm, Mommy, what….”

    But she didn’t. And so The Talk was postponed once more.

  27. 27

    Cats have kittens
    Dogs have puppies
    Guppies just have little guppies.

    Wish I could remember who wrote that.

  28. 28

    He’s called Onan ‘cause he “spills his seed”.  Don’t know the book, but it’s a moderately humorous Biblical reference.  BTW, Onan’s crime wasn’t masturbation but coitus interruptus.  He refused to get his sister-in-law Tamar pregnant, so she disguises herself as a whore and sleeps with her father-in-law Judah instead.  I love the Bible for its wholesome and uplifting moral tales.[g]

  29. 29
    Donna says:


  30. 30
    henofthewoods says:

    If you were widowed, would you want your husband’s relative’s child?
    To raise by yourself in a time before WIC?
    I can understand wanting your husband’s baby if you lose him before having children but the rest of that just baffles me.

    Sorry for the threadjack, but really.

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