Sometimes, walking softly and carrying a big stick isn’t all that effective.
Maybe I should explain . . .
Uncle Leif, then eight or nine years old, had been assigned to go to the field and retrieve Sorrel.
I should probably tell you that Sorrel was a flashy-looking, reddish-brown mare. A passably good cow horse except for a couple of glaring faults. Faults that involved teeth and hooves.
Sorrel liked her own company. And only her own company. When other horses came too near, she would bite or kick viciously.
Woe unto anyone trying to bring her in from the field. She would wait until the climactic moment, then let fly with both hind legs.
One had to be especially vigilant to avoid skin and/or bone-breakage.
With accompanying discomfort.
On this particular day, Leif, mounted on poor, long suffering Shorty, tried for some time to manoeuvre/avoid.
It was a tricky task.
Finally he grew tired of Sorrel’s ‘shenanigans’.
Clever out-foxing was indicated.
Returning to the farm, he found a fifteen foot pole-vault pole (On a farm with eight brothers, such a thing was entirely too common). This ‘lance’ would allow him to herd the mare while staying happily out of reach of anything sharp or bite-y.
Thus armed, he returned to the field and his arch-nemesis.
Moving stealthily into position near the grazing mare, he grasped his weapon by the very end to allow for the greatest safety margin, raised the pole into the approved jousting/poking position . . .
But before he could get close enough to contact his victim, said victim took to her heels.
Not one to be outdone by such an obvious manoeuvre, Leif, lance still raised, urged Shorty to increase his pace and follow.
Now all would have been well except for one thing. Leif was holding the pole by the very end.
Arm extended for greatest reach.
Control was fast becoming a problem.
Just as he was pulling the reins to stop his horse, the lance tip . . . dipped.
And poked into the ground.
Launching Leif spectacularly into the air. He landed some feet away.
On his back.
With a thud.
Fortunately, the only damage was the loss of air from tortured lungs.
After some minutes, he recovered both air and equilibrium.
But lost all inclination to complete his assigned task.
Sorrel, happily munching grass, watched him go.