Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



Friday, March 9, 2018

Beast Mastered

My elder siblings. Before they were elder . . .
I was witnessing a miracle.
My brother, George, was on a horse.
Voluntarily.
The professed hater of horses. Astride one.
I was so proud of him.
And excited.
A whole new world was opening up for me. I could picture long rides together, exploring the ranch, picnics in our saddlebags.
Okay, so neither of us actually had saddlebags, but we did know how to tie a bread bag of food behind our saddles.
That was almost as good.
I also have to admit that we never had quite acquired the knack of packing said food so that it didn’t mix together. Once we had chocolate cake and cheese, that . . . 
But that is another (gulp) story.
Moving on . . .
George was riding. He was on his little pony, Star, doing circuits of the barnyard.
A slow start, but a start nonetheless.
I was on my way to the corral for my horse, Pinto. This amazing event simply had to be shared. I couldn’t pass up such an incredible opportunity.
Even as I approached the corral, however, I could see that destiny was working against us.
Destiny in the form of one of the hired men.
He was standing, motionless, next to the gate of said corral. In his posture I could detect . . . malevolence? Cunning? Creepy-ness?
No, just stupidity.
He reached out and . . . opened the gate.
Now the horses imprisoned there had been standing around for hours, heads hanging, trying their horsey best to look as unenergetic as possible. The hope being that, through their posture alone, they could discourage any potential riders from inflicting them with their frivolous plans for . . . work.
Or anything work-y.
Dynamite couldn’t have moved them.
Only one thing, in fact, could awaken them from their comatose state.
The promise of freedom.
Through that open gate, they could glimpse . . . far away-edness. 
And they made a straight line for it.
Right through my brother, George.
He was calm. He didn’t panic.
He had me for that.
I watched in horror as his little horse was scooped up by the rest and whisked off towards . . . wherever they were going.
With horses, you never know.
They don’t even know.
The entire group galloped as one, down the hill, along the river.
My brother’s blue coat was clearly visible in the melee as he clung desperately to the smallest horse.
Now one can only imagine the deadly possibilities.
The churning hoofs, flint hard and razor sharp.
Okay, I’m exaggerating.
But they still could cause some rather serious damage.
Even at four I knew that.
I spun around and headed for the house screaming at the top of my lungs, “My brother! My brother!”
Not really original, I’ll admit, but effective.
My Mom came on the run, white faced and breathless.
I pointed at the cloud of dust rapidly moving towards the nearest far-away place and continued to holler. 
The two of us stared at it.
And at the little cloud that was rapidly losing ground against the larger horses.
Star was falling behind.
It was then that we saw pony and blue jacket part company.
Sensing a safer moment, still not too far from the ranch buildings, George had decided to cut his losses, discard dignity, and bail off.
As his tiny figure began the long trek home, the two of us raced to meet him.
It was a joyous reunion.
Not.
George was bruised, both physically and emotionally.
And mad.
And no one can get mad quite like George.
Picture Dad.
But smaller and more concentrated.
Fortunately, he wasn’t mad at us.
Just at the hired man.
And every horse in the world.
A fact that (sigh) remains to this day.

12 comments:

  1. My husband also had a bad experience with horses and refuses any part of them which saddens me to no end.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh and the possibility was there for something truly wonderful....dang that hired man.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Lucky it wasn't worse - there are so many ways to get hurt around a farm, I'm finding out from your blog!! I love the "smaller and more concentrated" line!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I relive these stories and wonder how any of us made it out alive! ;)
      And that smaller and more concentrated? It was a thing to see, Jenny!

      Delete
  4. My partner is with George. He tells me that horses are sneaky. And malevolent. And that if you go to the scene of any single car accident in the country you will find a horse in the nearby paddock. A horse which jumped out at the car, caused the crash and then nonchalently sauntered back into its paddock. Snickering.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Oh yes, that incident. Star was green broke and needed some practice rounds of the corral before you actually trust him out in the yard. Then Bob showed up. Actually what happened was that in the melee, another horse snagged my rein and tore it out of my hand so I was quite helpless. If I had both reins I would've had better control. For many years I wanted to punch Bob out if I ever saw him again but the last I heard he had succumbed to a brain tumor. So, I guess I'll have to wait until the next world before I have a chance to even the odds. You all might get a chance to see an angel with a black eye and a broken nose, and a harp protruding out from his backside....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oops. I didn't remember you were IN the corral! That makes what happened even worse! I also couldn't remember the hired man's name. Thus the generic 'Ken'.
      Black eyes in heaven. *snort*
      "Paging Dr. Whosis. Proctology. We've got another one!"

      Delete
  6. Is it too much to hope that hired man became fired man? I'm relieved that George was safe and smart enough to bail while he still could see the way home. I shudder when I think of other possible endings.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He was there for quite a while. Believe me, he was a better painter than he was a cowboy. But that is a whole other story . . .

      Delete

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