Trudy Andrew | Canadian Author

Pony Tails

When I was seventeen years old, I owned seventeen horses. I couldn’t seem to go to see horses that were for sale, especially ones that had not been seeing enough groceries, without buying as many as I could possibly afford. The ones that were obviously abused, also tugged on my heartstrings, but the starving ones bothered me so very much. Providing a horse with enough to eat, seemed a simple enough thing, especially when I managed it, and I was only a teenager. I figured, if I could feed and properly care for all my horses, on my meager income, anyone could. It was a simple matter of priorities. My hobby and my habit were my horses. I didn’t get my hair done, didn’t buy scads of clothing, and wasn’t all that enthralled with going out, unless it was to a horse show. I put my money into the horses, keeping my old truck on the road, and little else. There was one farm with so many horses that needed me, and I bought as many as I possibly could. Two that found their way to me were Hippy, a tri-coloured pinto I kept for a few years, and have a few amazing and funny stories about, and Grandma, a sweet little paint that went on to bring many years of pleasure as well.

When future hubby met me, I had a nice little herd, and showed no signs of slowing down. There were still horses to rescue from miserable lives, train or retrain, and sell to good homes, so the process could continue on.

Future hubby was either wise enough, or naive enough, to keep his opinions on my horse purchasing to himself, in those early years. I remember one time in particular, that we went to a rodeo to spend an enjoyable day being entertained, only to come home with three chuckwagon ponies. I have a bit of the ‘gift of gab’, and this was even decades before I kissed the fabled Blarney Stone! Anyway, I got to chatting with a young couple sitting next to us in the stands, and she was a chariot racer. It just so happened that she had three ponies to sell, ponies that didn’t work for her sport, but still had a good deal of potential to be wonderful at gymkhana. No guesses as to what I did next. I bought them, of course.

There were two blacks, Hector and Thunder, as well as a very red, chestnut mare, Nelly. They were each about ten hands high, trained to harness, and they were as fast and quick as the wind. They were neither starved or abused, and my intention was to use their abilities to their best advantage. They wouldn’t be driving, racing ponies any longer. Now, if my idea worked to plan, they’d be amazing little gymkhana ponies.

Back then, I didn’t own a horse trailer, but I did own my pride and joy, a 3/4 ton four by four truck. I had tall sides made, and hauled horses all over in it. This was what we went to get the ponies with. It was a good hour drive or more to get them. They hopped up and in, with no problem at all, and we headed for home. The trip was uneventful, until we were about four miles from home, that is. That was when there was a sudden clamour, on the roof above my head that darn near startled the bejeebers out of me. There was no other traffic on the quiet, country road, so I pulled to a gentle stop, right there in the middle of it. I surely didn’t want to hit the brakes hard and send ponies against the front of the box. Besides that, from the sounds of it, part of a pony was surely on the roof! It was ever so fortunate that future hubby had picked up our trail, and was now behind us. One look at what was going on, told me that we would need his help. The ponies were three across, and tied to the rollbar at the front of the box. Somehow, Nelly had gotten her front hooves over the rollbar and onto the roof! The first impulse was to untie her, but as that would leave her free to leap even further, if she was so inclined. Hector stood patiently, quietly on one side, Thunder was equally as unconcerned on the other. For the moment, Nelly was still, giving us time to think, instead of being reactive and possibly making a dangerous mistake. Those few minutes of contemplation afforded us the time to devise a plan. One that would hopefully keep all of us, ponies included, safe from harm. Del, a friend and fellow horse enthusiast, and I, would climb up the sides of the cab, and we would somehow, someway, lift her liitle hooves off the cab, one at a time. We attached a long lead to Nelly’s halter, and future hubby stood behind the truck, prepared to pull back if Nelly got it into her head, to try to jump further onto the truck roof. The smartest thing we did? We left her tied. She did make a couple of further attempts to jump again, but the tie held her back. Thankfully, Hector and Thunder kept their cool. With a bit of effort, yet not too long a time, we managed to get Nelly’s hooves off the roof. Nelly’s tie was shortened a bit more, and the last few miles were as uneventful as the first forty-five had been.

The three ex-chariot, chuckwagon ponies proved themselves to be as brilliant as I’d hoped.

They were brilliant at barrel racing and pole-bending, had no vices whatsoever, and were perfect future mounts for talented, young riders.  Hector went to a family with young boys who wanted to compete in gymkhana events.  Thunder became a child’s polo pony, and Nelly, the last to sell, also went to youngsters who wanted to be competitive.

Nelly was the only one of the three that we had to deliver.   With the roof-incident still fresh in my mind, I found a horse trailer to rent.  Future hubby and I loaded her with no effort at all.  Pleased that everything was going so well, we were in high spirits as we went to open gates and release the horses back into the pasture again.   We were walking back towards the trailer, when all sorts of nonsense erupted!  The noise that came from that trailer was unbelievable.  We didn’t know what she was up to in there, but it was rocking and hopping like a herd of buffalo were trying to bust out!  I would’ve run to see what was going on.  A hand on my arm restrained my impulse.

“I don’t think it would be wise to open any doors until the noise stops,” future hubby carefully advised, “I think it’s safer than maybe opening the door and she’s still thrashing around.”

It actually made sense, so although it darn near killed me, I stood there with future hubby, and we waited.  It felt like forever, yet was likely only a few more minutes before all was quiet.  Sharing a concerned look with him, we approached the trailer, then I carefully, slowly eased the top of the passenger side door open to peek inside.  I was prepared for a little, red mare to be upside down on the floor.  I was prepared for a big vet bill, or worse.  What I didn’t expect, was to come nose to nose with Nelly.  As quick as a wink, I shut the door in case she got it into her pretty, little head, to jump out.

Somehow, someway, that pony had managed to climb up onto, and crawl through the raised manger of the two-horse trailer, and down into the passenger side.  As the space had been rather small, even for Nelly, and the manger uncomfortably tall for her, I hadn’t tied her.  Maybe in the end, that had been the best decision.  She hadn’t gotten herself tangled or harmed herself in any way, and she now appeared quite pleased with the result of her actions.

What did we do?  Why, we hauled her to her new home, just as she was.

1 Comment
  1. Lol! So, was she sitting in the passenger seat or what?

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About Trudy Andrew

Trudy Andrew lives on a small farm just east of Winnipeg, Manitoba, where she enjoys her Morgan horses. A dreamer since she was a child, its no surprise to those who know her well that her imagination would find an outlet in writing, as it has in the past through artwork.
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 Oakbank, MB