Dick Hunt's Blog

September 19, 2011

Filed under: Current — Dick Hunt's Blog @ 12:38 pm

Horses I have Known and Loved.
by Dick Hunt, September 19th, 2011.
Horse and dogs seem to be the two blessings of the animal kingdom most amenable to close relationships with humans.  It is true that there are rogue animals the same as there are rogue humans.  But on the whole, rogue humans seem to be by far the most numerous and harmful.  Having grown up in agriculture, in my tender youth, I had more to do with animals than humans.

The first horse that I had a lot to do with was a Shetland pony, about three feet tall.  Besides being small, he was long on tricks. If he didn’t want us on his back he bucked us off.  Being small, we didn’t have far to fall.  His name was Joy. How he got away with that is a mystery to me. He could not be held in most fences. He lay down and scraped his way under the fence.  One day he took a fierce anger against a large Shire Stallion, managed to make his way through a maze of fences, turned around and kicked the stallion in a hind leg.  The stallion turned his head slowly and then ignored the pony. Lucky for him. Eventually we outgrew him and he was given to a family with four boys and six girls.  One summer our family spent a week with relatives in Kelowna and walked on the beach. A boy was there with his Shetland pony.  Mother asked hinm the pony’s name.  He said, “Uno”.  Mother said no, she didn’t know.  He said,”Uno”.  eventually they solved the problem when he said, “His name is Uno”.

When we graduated to larger horses, one of the dearest and best of all the years was “Wandy”, a bay gelding cow-pony, brave, alert, hard working and very gentle.  There was never a cow that could best him in Branding time and never a day when he would let any of us children to get in trouble. He was practically our baby sitter, while still being our father’s best cow pony.  Late in my Father’s life, he had a similar horse called “Fox” and their temperaments  and behaviour were almost identical.
The first horse I owned was a little mare called Midget.  She was small and swift and I could ride the mile and a half to the country school on her back in less than three minutes.  She too was a good horse for “working” cattle, that is, separating cattle into different categories and holding them separate. One thing that was identical in the case of all our cow ponies was that they instinctively knew which animal the rider wanted to separate from the herd and they were tenatious in doing their job. I have seen numbers of amateur riders get dumped to the ground because they were not aware of what the pony was going to do next.  Riding those ponies was a skill that took some time to develop and it was not for softies. And it was hard work for both horses and riders.

Those are just a very few of the great cow ponies that we thrilled to know and love.  In the category of so called “work horses”, meaning heavy, well muscled and powerful ones, many stood out as being totally loyal, trustworthy and precious to us all on the Ranch.  I well remember the white Percherons- Steve and Sadie, the bay Shires- Cap and Mandy. Black Beauty, Bay Beauty and White Beauty, all three of which were more nimble light horses used for lighter work and transportion.  White Beauty was given to my cousin Rueben, an only child who rode her to school. One afternoon as  we were getting ready to go home, I happened to walk into the stable in time to see the school bully slashing away at White Beauty with his bridle, to tease my cousin.  Although I was less than half the size of the bully, I rushed at him, surprised him and knocked him off balance and said, “don’t you ever touch that horse again”.  And he didn’t.  I was brought up to do what is right and hurting animals is never right. Horses normally live from about 15 years up to nearly thirty years. But losing any of our beloved horses was always an emotional loss, like losing a pet dog or a cat or a canary. Even my Mother’s squawky Parrot which lived for over 75 years was sorely missed when we didn’t hear him say, any longer, “Watcha doin”.

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