This originally appeared in Ascent. Now it’s been picked by The Smart Set.

Perhaps it was because of “Seymour,” a pony I rode on the beach.

I hadn’t wanted to ride him; he was too small. But the hectoring Thai guys hawking pony rides convinced me to take him out for an hour for 500 bhat, more than the cost of a good meal. I couldn’t resist the idea of galloping through the surf in the Gulf of Thailand. Seymour had short legs and an eggbeater gait, and while it was kind of fun to gallop through the surf in front of scads of belly-heavy sunburned northern Europeans, I probably could have run faster and with less discomfort on my own. Plus Seymour — I knew that wasn’t his real name, but I liked that whatever it really was, the way the Thai guys pronounced it made it sound like my great-uncle’s name — was kind of a jerk, pinning his ears and throwing his head when he didn’t want to accede to my requests.