Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Demon Sled

“Now, make sure you drag your toes in the snow. Kneel down in there and drag your toes behind you.” Dad was saying. It was the winter of 1988, or there about, I was a sophomore in high school and the smartest person I knew. (Or so I thought at the time.) Dad had just made us a sled using his harness and a hood off of an ol‟ 50‟s model car. Where he had come up with that I don‟t rightly recall, likely from one of the old Junkers my grandfather had on the back of his place. We were hitching up Hobo to the sled, and he was telling me how to keep the sled from bumping his heels. “I know, I will!” I was saying. “Well, you‟d better or it will bump his heels and then all bets are off.” We finished hooking up the horse, and I piled in. We led him on down below the barn, in to the bottom pasture, where there was plenty of room to play, and for him to pull. I had been driving him for a couple of summers now, skidding posts and such, and we had both done a pretty fair job of it. I had just enough experience driving and working him to know EVERYTHING there was to know about it. I clearly remember thinking to myself “I got this. This is gonna be a piece of cake!” So away we went. We started making laps around the field, and I was having a grand time. All the while, I was making sure to drag my toes in the snow behind me. It must have been about thirty minutes later, when I started to get comfortable enough to speed him up a bit. It was along about then that I forgot to drag my toes. Hobo gave an extra hard pull and we started down a little slope. Just then, the sled bumped his heels, this of course startled him and he jumped a little. When he did, the sled bumped his heels a second time. This time he jumped HARD and took off like a rocket! I fell out of the back of the sled and Hobo, with no one to check him, lit out of there like his head was on fire and his tail was catching. He made straight for the gap in the two fields, headed towards the barn at a dead run. I‟m sure he thought some new type of panther was chasing him, intent on having him for lunch. Well, he wasn‟t about to stick around to oblige. With the sled bouncing and the reins flapping like the wings of a goose, flogging him for all it was worth he gained a gear and then he REALLY took off. Running full tilt, hell bent for leather, he shot through the lower gate. On his way past the barn, he caught the poor, much lamented sled on a four by six corner post and demolished it. The harness was busted and the single tree snapped in half. What a racket! All the while, he could see this demon hot on his heels. Now, not only was it a flopping, writhing demon, but a banging shrieking demon as well. Hobo didn‟t even pause; he shot through the gate and headed towards the house. Through the yard, and down to where we kept my sister‟s horse, Sugar Foot. Earlier in the summer we had put up three strands of Gaucho wire there. For those of you unfamiliar with it, Gaucho is normally used for cattle. It is very sharp, and very strong. I‟ve seen it cut after being up for a couple years and it will automatically coil back up. Hobo was giving it all he had, determined to shake this thing that was chasing him, when too late, he seen the wire. I watched in horror as he tried to stop, turn, and jump, all in the space of about two seconds. He hit the wire full on with his chest, flipped over in a somersault, and landed on his back. The demon had caught him. He resigned himself to his fate and lay there, waiting for the end. Dad and I came running. Much to his credit, he did not struggle at all once he was down. We quickly cut him out of the wire and examined him. He had some pretty good cuts on his chest, and one real good one on his leg. We led him to the barn, sweating and trembling. (Both of us) Dad stitched him up, as we could not afford a vet call. I held him as still as I could while he worked on Hobo. Luckily, they were pretty superficial cuts, and no tendons or nerves were damaged. Once he was stitched up, and the first aid was done, he stopped trembling. I wish I could have. I don‟t recall being that scared for him, or for anything, in my short life. I realized that maybe I didn‟t know it all. It was a hard lesson to learn. I treated him religiously with the medicine, twice a day until he was healed. It took a bit, but before spring, he was right as rain and we were back to riding all over the country side again.

Brooks Gaited Horse Training

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