Trudy Andrew | Canadian Author

Horse Tails

Thow-ra and Kunama

My third horse was a weanling palomino filly, I named Kunama. The word is Australian Aboriginal, and means snow, which I thought perfect for a horse with white mane and tail. When out riding, I always took her along. That filly learned all about life outside of the pasture, years before she was ready to ride. She became a horse with life experience, as she was exposed to anything and everything on our ventures out. She had a wonderful role model in Thow-ra as well. Thow-ra was fearless and forward moving, and besides that, she treated Kunama, or Amy as we called her for short, like her own. I would pony Amy off Thow-ra, bareback of course, then as soon as we arrived safely at the gravel pits, I would release her to follow along. That young filly learned to negotiate steep cliffs, jump over natural obstacles (some of which weren’t all that natural at all) and became as quiet as could be.
Taking along what is, to all affects a child, had its own challenges. Some days, Amy was as willing as could be, pulling on the lead as if trying to hurry us along, which was rather amusing because Thow-ra could outwalk anything on four legs. Other times, Amy was like a petulant child, acting out and adamantly saying no, to every yes I said. She never threw a hissy fit, or acted out. Amy’s rebellion was far more passive. If she didn’t want to do something, she simply planted her feet and stopped.
In the years before masses of chemicals were used to make fields produce crops yearly, farmers often gave their land a break. They would leave the soil fallow for a summer, to rest and rejuvenate. When dry, a summer fallow field was great to ride on. An added bonus was that it provided a shortcut, and Amy could frolic, loose beside Thow-ra.
There was about a week’s worth of time, where Amy decided that she didn’t want to come along. Well, to be clear, she didn’t want to go, yet wanted Thow-ra to stay with her as well. To combat this, and because I wasn’t impressed with having to chase after her, I began leading her off Thow-ra again. Shortcuts weren’t shortcuts, if you had to ride them twice.
We were casually walking across one such field, Amy on her lead, Thow-ra striding along with purpose, when I suddenly found myself being pulled backwards off Thow-ra’s bare back! It’s funny how the brain says something, yet the response of the body doesn’t listen, at least not quickly enough. I needed to stop Thow-ra, yet somehow didn’t. By now, I was up on her rump, and the inevitable was a certainty. I was going to hit the ground. I also knew that if I let go of Thow-ra, she would go home without me. If I let go of Amy, she would do the same. As splay-footed and anchored to the ground as she was, I knew darn well that the little palomino would high-tail it for home, and just as quick as a wink, given the chance. It just so happened that I wasn’t crazy about either option.
Oof, I hit the ground, but hung onto one of Thow-ra’s reins, and Amy’s lead rope, too! There was no moaning and groaning, no rubbing my poor butt while walking it off, both hands were not only occupied, but my arms were spread as far apart as was humanly possible as well. Thow-ra looked disgusted and disappointed with me as she stood there, not helping out by backing up a little, yet not making it worse either. Amy? Well, my sweet little filly had her front legs out and to the sides, her little rump high in the air as she pulled back, and her mouth pursed in petulance.
“You rotten, little brat,” I grumbled at her, even as I encouraged Thow-ra to come towards me. Struggling to rise, I brushed off the dirt, shook some out of my hair, and contemplated my choices. Never one to quit when I had a goal in mind, I decided to carry on. Amy still didn’t want to lead, and I decided to use Thow-ra’s strength to pull her along and convince her to come around to my way of thinking. I hopped up onto my ever patient mare, brought the lead across Thow-ra’s chest and had her strength help me tow along the suddenly stubborn filly.
In her life before me, Thow-ra had been a harness horse. She’d been in a wreck that had ruined any possibility of ever pulling any sort of horse drawn vehicle, but she certainly didn’t mind pressure against her chest. I wasn’t worried about getting in a wreck, as the lead wasn’t tied to anything or anyone. Worse came to worse, I would simply let go of the lead.
Well, it worked a charm. After a moment’s hesitation when the lead pulled against her chest, Thow-ra did exactly as I hoped, her power forced Amy to come along. After about twenty feet of unwillingness, the tenacious filly gave in and reluctantly followed. After about another fifty feet or so, I decided I could return to simply leading, that I didn’t have to haul Amy along anymore. Stopping Thow-ra, I returned the lead to my right hand, rather a relief, for Thow-ra’s help or not, it had still been hard to hold the lead. Squeezing my legs to propel Thow-ra forward, I felt a pleasing sense of self-satisfaction. One little battle won. One big impression made on an impressionable, little horse. Funnily enough, I was sailing through the air again directly thereafter, to land with an equally hard thud onto soft, yet not soft enough dirt. The battle of wills wasn’t won, at least not yet, but still were that day, as I’m every bit as stubborn as Amy was choosing to be.
It’s funny, but back then, I was grateful that no one had witnessed my unintentional dismounts. Now, it’s simply one amusing incident among many.

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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