Horse StoriesPosted Tuesday, February 22, 2011, at 6:40 PM
Growing up with 30 head of horses means that you have a huge treasure chest of stories. Here are three horses who remain legendary in our family memories.
In addition to my "evil" pony, we had another Shetland pony whose name was Smokey. My dad bought him from some guy who pulled up to our place with a horse trailer I think that it was a little crowded for Smokey, because the guy had two regular sized horses in a two horse trailer with a pony.
Smokey was a true study in character building. My mother used to say that she always knew when we were all headed home because she could hear a kid crying and look out the window to see Smokey heading back to the barn with or without a kid on his back. He was very decisive about what he wanted and if he wanted to go home, it was your choice to hang on or fall off. My sister eventually inherited him and she had the personality to keep him in line most of the time.
Smokey occasionally had the run of the place and he liked to prance around the horse stalls and torment the other horses. He would constantly do that to Johnny Hawk, who was a stallion at the time. There came a day when Smokey went too far and pranced his last tease, Johnny Hawk went through his stall door like it was paper. What alerted us to the situation was hearing an odd squealing noise coming from outside and from the dining room window,it appeared as though Smokey was trotting daintily around the barn and the horse stalls with a determined Johnny Hawk loping behind him. In reality, it was a life or death situation. Had Johnny Hawk caught up with him, it would have been a different story.
Smokey was fast for a pony and could turn on a dime. At Gymkhanas; my brothers would borrow him for barrel racing, the potato race and pole bending. He was a sure winner for several of these events.
We also had a horse named Corn Dog. He wasn't mean, but Corn Dog liked to buck and he wasn't predicable about it either. My dad eventually sold him because you couldn't depend on him to behave while you were gathering cows. We heard that he was finally sold to a rodeo. So I guess he finally got to do the thing he loved most.
And then we had Billy Goat Horse, I can't remember what his real name was but you couldn't leave anything near his mouth. He would eat clothes, horse tack, and coats. My brother Buddy had won several ribbons at the fair that year with this horse and it was a standard practice to display them in the horse stalls for people to see. But when you looked into Billy Goat Horse's stall; all you could see was small ragged pieces of ribbon hanging on the nails, he had eaten every ribbon down to the paper.
Horses are wonderful sensitive creatures. When we remember Smokey, we think of the prizes he won and the great "race between him and Johnny Hawk. Corn Dog would always be the horse that bucked and The Billy Goat Horse would be the one who ate the 4H ribbons.
Our horses were like family and we rarely sold them. Corn Dog and Billy Goat Horse were a couple of rare exceptions. Smokey, however, lived to be a ripe old age and was ridden by two generations of Allen children.
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Walking the Fence Line
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Fixing fence is the one of the hardest jobs on a ranch. I no longer live on a ranch, but I do know what hard work is. Fences are everyone's concern, but nowadays,the "hole" is always your neighbor's side not your own. It used to be that you would respect your neighbor and mend the fence together. If their cows got in your field, a simple phone call resolved the problem. You might even saddle up your own horse and help them gather them up. We need more people who are willing to roll their sleeves up and fix the fence regardless of who your neighbor is. There are people in this country who need to be reminded that a fence is like the way you should conduct your life. Your posts should be straight and neat. The wire needs to be stretched tight and your gate might be closed, but can still be easily opened. And most of all, we can all saddle up together and ride the range, it won't matter if you have an Appaloosa, Quarter Horse or Thoroughbred. The cows still have to be gathered, fences have to be fixed, and the range is a wide open space of opportunity for us all.