A satirical animation explores the conflicts and challenges of a forty-something, reluctantly aging, former U.S. Olympic Equestrian Team member as he rules his tiny fiefdom of Mesquite Grove Stables, deep in the heart of Texas.
Earl Norris’ past glory as a highly successful international equestrian makes him the object of sports reporter Kent Mann’s reluctant quest to complete his assignment for the American Horse Show Network’s “Where are They Now?” series. Kent is ill-prepared for the stifling heat and dust of the horse show having heard the location as Paris and failing to hear the Texas follow-on. (Music like Lyle Lovett’s, “That’s Right, You’re Not from Texas”)
Arriving at the multidisciplinary competition, Kent follows the sound of raucous cheering and applause and sees Earl Norris exiting the Grand Prix arena having just won the event. As he pursues Earl throughout the day, Kent always arrives a moment too late to corner Earl for an interview, but still manages a telling glimpse into the dysfunctional microcosm and its self-absorbed inhabitants.
Earl—annoyed that his wealthiest client, the large-bottomed Mimi Cartwright, has failed to witness his successful rides on her horses—sends Guy Patrick, the barn manager, to look for Mimi among the cowboy contingent. Returning, Mimi frustrates Earl with her cavalier attitude, and embarrasses him professionally with a disastrous round on her push button horse Miko. (Music cues up Sir Mix-A-Lot’s, “Baby Got Back”)
As Earl watches Mimi’s ride, muttering expletives under his breath, he realizes too late he has been observed by Mimi’s diabolic twin son, Billy. The Howdy Doody-attired 8 year old confronts Earl, who denies trashing Billy’s mother. Unconvinced, Billy draws a Colt 45 replica water pistol, shoots Earl in the crotch and runs off to plot additional revenge.
Between competitions Earl seeks out his long-serving Hispanic groom, Bolo, who surreptitiously provides him with one of his most notorious addictions, fine Venezuelan chocolates. Earl’s cravings for the treats give Bolo, his sole connection for the sweet transactions, power over him, as well as make it difficult for the vain Earl to fit comfortably into his riding breeches. (Music like Steppenwolf’s, “Pusher Man”)
Billy utilizes a pen of waiting calves to extract his retribution during Earl’s demonstration ride of the dangerous puissance wall. (Music like Pink Floyd’s, “The Wall”) When Earl charges toward the jump, Billy stampedes a herd of bawling calves into the arena, causing the horse to rear in fright, sending Earl crashing to the ground. As family and friends rush to his aid, a dazed Earl stares at a tiny foil-covered object, his hand reflexively attempting to grasp the morsel as he whispers a raspy plea . . . “Choc-o-late . . . .” (Music like Joe Ely’s, “Me & Billy the Kid Never Got Along”) . . . . see full pilot treatment
Earl lands in the hospital after his spectacular fall during the puissance wall demonstration, suffering a mild concussion and bruised coccyx. He is visited by the Mesquite Grove entourage, during which time he is briefly left alone with Billy and Bobby. Billy disconnects the nurse call button while Bobby repeatedly pushes the dose button for the narcotic IV in Earl’s arm.
The MGS retinue must leave Earl and return to Mesquite Grove. Earl has an attack of paranoia at being left alone at the hospital without his chocolate, and calls Bolo, demanding that he launch an undercover rescue mission.
Sister Peg consoles Earl while sharing her unique past with him as she provides a donut pillow to help ease his discomfort. Earl invites her to visit MGS.
Guy, Earl and Winnie argue over who will teach the Lesson Kids since Earl has run off yet another instructor. They decide to draw straws and Guy rigs the draw so that Winnie will have to teach the lesson.
The four Lesson Kids, Connor, Bailey, Roz and Emma, arrive for tack up. Connor is organized and neatly dressed, Emma is complaining that it’s too hot, Roz is looking stressed and tomboy Bailey quietly waits for her horse assignment. Emma causes a minor catastrophe when she gives her horse teasing kisses on the nose until the exasperated horse, following Dalai’s instruction, finally grabs the child by her orthodontia to make her stop. Emma cries hysterically.
Once in the ring, Bailey’s horse is attacked by Emma’s horse, causing Bailey’s horse to start bucking. When the excitement stops, Emma is wailing about how dreadful the whole thing has been for her, Roz announces she doesn’t need additional stress while she is studying for her bat mitzvah, Connor flicks bits of mud off his shirt and Bailey quietly observes the other three. Winnie wonders how she will survive the rest of the lesson.
Meanwhile, Earl scores some Venezuelan chocolate from Bolo, tasting a sample with the edge of his knife and arguing over the price.
The stable hands’ plans for the Cinco de Mayo celebration are reaching climactic levels. Zola St. John stops by to admire the young goat the men have purchased from Roy and Slim. She makes plans for a kid-napping, which includes Mimi and her oversized SUV, when she learns that the goat is to be the key ingredient for the traditional cabrito the men will serve at their fiesta.
A work stoppage ensues in response to the goat abduction which forces the MGS patrons to perform the stable hands’ duties. Bolo threatens to cut off Earl’s chocolate. The resulting standoff is reminiscent of the Alamo. Big Jake saves the day with the help of a white flag and his large checkbook. (Music like “Deguello”)
Inspired by Earl’s suggestion to visit MGS and her love of animals, Sister Peg decides to remain
in Mesquite Grove and to join a local group of nuns, helping to care for their herd of miniature horses. She pays a visit to MGS and while touring the facility, vows to take up riding when she spies JC, a lesson horse with a large, cross-like blaze, and to pursue Shane, the handsome farrier, at least in her heart.
The self-absorbed MGS group fails to associate Sister Peg’s large hat with a holy order, and they also fail to notice her prosthetic leg. Their lack of awareness comes to light when Sister Peg loses her balance—and her prosthesis—as she is thrown from JC. The group joins Mimi in yelling to Billy and Bobby to catch the Dachshunds, as they have just run off with Sister Peg’s leg.
Sister Peg survives her fall unscathed and vows to have a special riding leg made, complete with a high top black leather boot.
Roy and Slim watch an infomercial on emu ranching and decide that this is where their fortunes lie. They attempt to capitalize on their friendship wtih Nita Mahn Teeze—a professional vedette and burlesque dancer— but when she visits Mesquite Grove she forms an instant bond with Mimi. Distracted from endorsing Roy and Slim’s emu venture, she teams up with Mimi to develop a line of riding breeches for big-boned gals, to be called BBGs. (Music like k.d. lang’s “Big Boned Gal”) Roy and Slim attempt to unload their stock of emu skin products on Earl, promising him fountain of youth results.
The annual awards banquet for the Texas Equestrian Association is being held at an upscale Dallas hotel and the MGS entourage is decked out in their finest.
This is the function Ivy anticipates all year, not because she is winning any riding awards but rather because she can win the silent vote for most fashionable. After instructing the group on table etiquette, including how to pass the salt and pepper and the proper direction to point a butter knife blade, she confuses the group by placing a wrapped pat of frozen butter under her butt to warm it. (“It’s okay, no one is looking.”)
Earl is the master of ceremonies for the event and uses his position to annoy Tinka at every opportunity, including mispronouncing her name as Stinka Warrior.
Billy sets up a potential hazard for Earl by pouring salad oil on the podium and utilizing Bobby’s love of electricity to rig the microphone to shock Earl. In the bedlam that follows, the formal event degrades into a food fight, causing the elite equestrians to be evicted from the hotel.
Mimi and Ivy go on a shopping spree in Big D. Billy and Bobby are forced to go along against their wishes. The twins begin to play hide ’n seek in the department store, using the huge circular display racks as their hideouts. While preparing to ambush Bobby from his designer fort, Billy overhears a riding discussion between Ivy and Mimi in which Mimi sighs, “I wish I had Earl’s eye.” Misinterpreting the meaning of the phrase, Billy vows to “capture Earl’s eye” for his mother and concocts a series of accidents for Earl, involving misplaced hay rakes, an automatic fly sprayer gone renegade, a golf cart with no brakes, and with the help of Bobby, a hot wire attached to the door knob of Earl’s tack room.
In an attempt to foster camaraderie and raise team spirit at the stable, Guy and Earl arrange for a bowling night, to include various individual and team contests, which meets with mixed levels of enthusiasm from the group.
Ivy and Mimi seize the opportunity to shop for new wardrobes. Ivy predictably gravitates toward haute couture, while Mimi concentrates on classic blue-collar league attire to win the fashion contest.
Winnie, Guy and Sister Peg vie for the best view of Shane’s backside, as he bends over to thrust his bowling ball towards the quivering pins. Billy and Bobby terrorize the bowling alley patrons, which includes a reenactment of Earl’s recent adventures with calves. Roy and Slim observe the disruption to their regular night of league bowling.
The evening is rescued from boredom by the arrival of Tinka Varyeur and her stable’s entourage of Wood Units, after a tip off from Bolo. (Music like “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” plays as Earl and Tinka eye each other.) Tinka challenges Earl and the MGS patrons to a contest which threatens to degrade into a full-blown episode of Jackass.
In the never ending search for a permanent riding instructor for the lesson program at MGS, Guy interviews and hires Sheena Bach but with some misgivings. Explaining her limp to Guy, Sheena
tells an amazing tale of being stopped in a horrendous traffic accident late one stormy night. When she got out of her vehicle to assist, she was run over by a Winnebago, which pinned her foot under its tire. As she lay trapped in agony underneath the RV and atop an ant hill, she heard voices inside, arguing over what they had just hit. Finally, the occupants exit the Winnebago and peer underneath. To add additional trauma to the situation, she looked up terrified to realize that they were carnie people. She has had a fear of the circus and midways ever since.
While touring the facilities, Guy explains to Sheena that the beer setting outside of some of the stalls is a European remedy for horses that have trouble sweating. Later, Guy notices much of the beer missing and Sheena is sweating profusely.
The stable loses another riding instructor as Sheena leaves screaming hysterically at Mimi’s suggestion that the group go try the carne guisada at the new Mexican restaurant in town.
Bebe and Guy travel to a racetrack in Nuevo Laredo to search for some jumper prospects. After an eventful day of looking at racehorses, they visit the local markets so Bebe can shop for antiques, then they have a meal at a questionable restaurant. They decide to stay at a hotel recommended to them by one of the local racehorse trainers.
Arriving at the hotel, they are shown to their suite by the cousin of the trainer. The cousin feigns surprise that a couple is already occupying the rooms and demands that they leave immediately. The couple complains that their hour is not yet up. The final insult for the two MGS adventurers is their simultaneous urgent need for the toilet, which is full of mosquitoes.
The stables have become overrun with rats and Earl unknowingly hires an exterminator with multiple personalities to take care of the problem. The exterminator initially shows up as a Crocodile Hunter-type of character, complete with large rat snakes, one of which makes his escape and decides to stick around the stable permanently. Later, the exterminator switches to several Bill Murray
character personae, including Carl Spackler from Caddyshack. Zola St. John argues in favor of trying a holistic approach with the rats as Helmuth the snake swallows a rat and asks, “What could be more natural than this?”
Earl and Bebe witness another motorist go out of his way to run over a squirrel. After confronting the misanthrope at a stop sign, they return to MGS to plot justice and revenge. They enlist the aid of Ivy Gabbinger and Shane and seek out the offender’s car, armed with a carton of eggs and a few dozen paintballs.
Rozlyn Hashanah is frustrated with her horse’s turnout partner who is trying to commandeer all the hay. After repeated attempts to fairly separate the hay for the two horses, she convinces her mother to hire a security guard to protect her horse’s share of the ration.
Mimi sees an interview of the Sweet Potato Queens promoting their new cookbook, Sweet Potato Queens’ Big Ass Cookbook, on Good Morning America. This inspires Mimi to enlist Nita Mahn Teeze’s help to secure a similar marketing segment on a national morning show, promoting their line of BBGs.
After another big fall, Earl heads for the house to take a hot, soaking bath which he finds occupied by a somewhat ferocious possum, which had taken advantage of the Dachshunds pet door.
Zola St. John has purchased a new super soft and squishy Ecstatic Mouth bit for her horse, Valerian. As Zola is fussing over Val, the mare becomes bored and annoyed and reaches out attempting to nip Ivy as she passes by. Acting instinctively, Ivy bitch slaps Val across her offending muzzle. Zola is horrified and immediately chastises an unrepentant Ivy and attempts to reason with Val about her behavior. The mare responds by whapping Zola across the face with her tail (“Oh, she’s just swatting flies.”), stomping on Ivy’s foot (“That’s right, sweetie, let that anger out.”) and finally trying to nip Zola (“No, Snookums, I don’t have anymore carroty- carrots for you. So sorry!”).
A debate ensues at MGS over whether it was appropriate for Ivy to have slapped Zola’s horse. The group is divided down party lines, but the issue is ultimately resolved when one MGS patron slaps another to demonstrate a point, which leads to a slap fest among the MGS customers and hands, culminating in Three Stooges-like eye poking and forehead knocking.
Earl tries out a new prospect horse in the jumper ring, attended by Bebe and the usual MGS cortege. Earl canters toward a large oxer, which the green horse finds confusing. As they sail over the jump, the young horse’s landing gear fails to deploy. The horse flips and the group sees Earl flying through the air, although from their angle they are unable to see where he lands.
As they run toward the wreck of horse and rider, their eyes scan the ground, the nearby bushes and the backside of the jumps, but they do not see Earl. Bebe says that Earl was wearing his cell phone and that someone should try calling it. Mimi dials frantically and a hush falls on the group as they listen for Earl’s signature ring . . . “The William Tell Overture”.
They hear the music and look toward the thrashing horse, which is still on its back like a turtle, and see an arm sticking out from under the horse’s torso. (Music like “Fallin’ & Flyin’” [from Crazy Heart])
All materials, characters, and intellectual property contained on this site are property of ©KAP Partners 2003 — Writer’s Guild registration: WGA908457