Trudy Andrew | Canadian Author

Horse Tails

The story

Some things are better to hear about later, than experience first hand. This was true of the crazy story, hubby relayed to me, his experience and words.
Not long after I left for the driving clinic, hubby had what he thought was a most brilliant idea. He was going to repeat the drive from the weekend before. Because he thought he wouldn’t be able to keep a close enough eye on two tiny tots, he took our youngest to hang out with Oma and Opa for the day. Sweetpea was beyond horse crazy and extremely fearless, so this was likely the best choice. Of course he never let on what he was going to do, or she would’ve thrown a little fit. She would have wanted to catch and lead, never mind brush and harness! Pretty difficult things to accomplish when you only come up to a horse’s knee! As it turned out, it was a very good thing that she wasn’t along for the drive.
Hubby fetched his two, new horses from their pasture, took his time getting them ready and harnessed, then hitched them to the wagon. He intended to drive them to Birds Hill Park and surprise me at the clinic. A good ten mile drive from our home, he would’ve arrived about the time that the clinic was wrapping up.
He lifted our little boy up onto the seat then climbed up as well. They were off on a day of adventure.
They were only about a mile from home, when the horses began to act up and behave rather antsy, especially Kelly. The ever so placid Pat, seemed to be picking up on his partners mood, and hubby wondered what was going on. Still, it had only been a mile. Surely they would settle. It was a beautiful, calm day with no real worries, so he crossed Garven road at a break in traffic and carried on. It didn’t take him very long to realize that things were going south, and very fast. Kelly was acting all spooky, and Pat was feeding off his mood. They hadn’t travelled more than a few hundred feet further, when hubby decided that it was best to go back home. Kelly was getting worse by the minute, and there was no point in continuing. Something was seriously wrong, and out on the road wasn’t the place to deal with it. Especially with your tiny child along. Turning them around on the gravel road, he headed for home.
Just ahead was a row of mailboxes. Mailboxes just the same as all the varied assortment we’d driven by, the previous weekend. The same mailboxes they’d just driven by, mere minutes before. The problem was, this time they were the trigger to an event, a horrible, dramatic runaway. Suddenly, they were bolting straight at the highway! The highway that was busy with Saturday traffic. Hubby couldn’t stop or slow the team down, but he could turn them, and turn them he did. They swept onto the highway at full gallop, running along with traffic. There in front of them was an approaching car that in its shock and surprise, stopped in the middle of the lane. The horses could easily have run right into it, yet didn’t. At the very last second, they veered off and passed it by. To this day, hubby can’t believe they didn’t at least side-swipe it as they careened by. It was that close.
After about a quarter of a mile of this headlong rush, hubby somehow managed to get Pat and Kelly stopped and turned back towards home. It was only then, that he was able to look at the wee boychild. To his utter amazement, the tiny tot was neither afraid or concerned about the recent event. He was however, worried about his hat.
“My hat blew off,” he told his dad with a frown, “I think it’s in the back. Can I go get it?”
“Okay,” his dad smiled with relief and amusement, “go on then. Can you climb over on your own, or do you need my help?”
“Nope, I can do it.”
The tiny tyke was barely over the seat and in the back, when the horses bolted again. Hubby couldn’t stop them, couldn’t look back to see if our tiny boy was okay, or even do anything about it, if he wasn’t. He had his hands more than full, just trying to control the heavy team. The intersection of our road was coming up fast. Hubby had no idea if the team would try to turn to go home, or gallop on by. Pat attempted to obey the lines. The evidence of it was left on the pavement, in long skid marks when he tried to stop. Kelly’s robust enthusiasm was far too great, and simply dragged him along. They were veering towards the left as they galloped. Hubby realized, the big horses intended to hang a left and head for home. The biggest problem and fear? That they wouldn’t make the corner. The wagon would roll over, and a precious, little boy would be flung out. Hubby never thought about himself as he struggled with the team and his options. He wanted to stay on the highway so that the horses could run themselves out. After all, these were Drafts, Belgian Drafts. Sustained speed was not their forte.
Unfortunately, the horses had other ideas. They were pulling hard to the left. Hubby was bracing his feet against the front of the wagon, and pulling hard to the right. Poor Pat. He saw the ditch ahead, and he didn’t want any part of it. Though he planted his four giant hooves, Kelly’s momentum carried him along. Horses and wagon leapt off the road, over the culvert and hit down at the bottom of the ditch. The force of the impact, threw Hubby against the front of the wagon, yet though he’d lost a hold of the right line, he pulled hard on the left, even as he regained his feet. The wild ride still wasn’t over. Still wired and beyond sensibility, the great beasts plunged into the bush surrounding the corner yardsite, as if it was nothing but twigs. They burst through onto beautifully manicured lawn, somehow missed every ornamental shrub and decorative, concrete do-dad, and charged across their driveway. As they did, hubby was able to catch the loose line he’d lost. Pulling on it, as the next trees were big, old growth, and hitting them wouldn’t bode well for anyone, he managed to turn the big boys, and finally brought them to a stop, their noses inches from touching a beautiful gazebo that had only recently been built, and at great expense.
There they stood, snorting, blowing, sweating, their sides heaving as they drew their breath. Pat was done. His head hung a little, and he seemed relieved it was over. Kelly was dancing, prancing on the spot, all crazy and wild.
Hubby noticed movement by the house. There stood a young, slight man, all wide-eyed and clearly fearful.
“You have to come help me,” hubby said in earnest, then when the man hesitated with clear trepidation, “You have to. I need your help, right now.”
To his credit, the young man obeyed. Despite the fact that his fear was real, and he’d likely never had been near a horse before, he did as my hubby so urgently requested. He squeezed between gazebo and giant horses, and held them by the bridles. That slight, completely inexperienced young man, faced his fear and did what had to be done. I can only imagine how he felt, or what he was thinking, but he stepped up that day, and conquered his fear as he stood there holding the team. It couldn’t have been easy, as big horses can be intimidating. One that was wound up, even more so.
It was only then, that hubby was able to finally look for our tiny boy. His relief was almost overwhelming when a little head popped up, a big, happy smile on his cute face.
“I got it, dad,” he held up his hat as proof, “it didn’t get lost.”
Not a word about the wild, rough ride. Not a single tear or complaint. He had his hat, so all was well.
Without wasting a second, hubby had the tiny boychild off the wagon and standing safely out of harm’s way. With the stand-in groomsman still holding the horses, hubby unhitched them from the wagon, hooked the tugs up onto the harness and out of the way, then took over at the great heads. He knew there was no option but to walk the horses home, but what to do with our son? A mile was too far for him to walk, and if the horses acted up, he wouldn’t be able to deal with them and keep the boychild safe.
Fortunately, the brave soul who had helped with the horses, recognized the need. He offered to watch our child, until his father could come back for him. Heading off, hubby took the team home. Kelly dragging him forward, poor exhausted Pat, dragging his feet and hanging back. Hubby walked them home, unharnessed, dressed Pat’s wounds and put them into their pasture. He put away the harness then took the pickup, a standard, to go and collect the boy and tow home the wagon.
The boychild? Well, he had a wonderful time. There was an injured, young fox in a kennel, and he was so excited to tell his father how he had to be very, very quiet, but was allowed to feed it meat from the end of a stick. After all that had happened, the high point of his day was the little, red fox. Of course he wanted to ride home in the wagon. Of course his father said no.
It was strange how Pat, the horse that didn’t want to participate, was the one that suffered cuts and scrapes, and his harness needed repair. Kelly didn’t suffer a single scratch, and his harness not a lick of damage. The hubby? Well, how he managed to do all he did, I’ll never know. He couldn’t use his left arm for weeks, and it as well as his shoulder gave him grief for months. Adrenaline is a powerful thing indeed.
I drove back to the highway to view the scene of the crime. There were the long skid marks that showed how Pat had tried to stop, yet had been dragged. There were the impact marks the wagon and hooves had made in the ditch, and the tracks that disappeared into thick bush. I saw all of that, and was ever so grateful that I hadn’t experienced it.

  1. Wow, oh wow! Poor Pat! Trying to.cooperate!

  2. Love it!! Thanks!

  3. Wow it’s a tribute to hubby to keep his head and not panic. I have ridden a big geldi g that used to rear launch himself into the air and bolt. Can’t yhink how much more frightening it would be behind two giant Belgium drafts in a large wagon with your small smiling child. A truely exciting story well worth the wait thank you

    • Thanks so much. Hubby and boychild both should’ve been traumatized, yet weren’t. The person in the car they almost ran over? I’ve always wondered what they were thinking, lol.

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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