Trudy Andrew | Canadian Author

Horse Tails

Pat and Tom

Owning a Draught or Draft horse, is very different than owning a light horse. They take at least twice the feed, double the dewormer, need taller fences and it costs more to have their hooves done. In short, they’re more horse to care for, no matter how you slice it. If you’re really fortunate, you end up owning a horse like Tom. Not only was he a giant that needed the usual giant-sized everything, he had a huge personality that equaled his massive size. He was incredibly sociable in every way, especially when tiny things were involved. Kids, foals, ponies, he was intrigued by them all. We never worried that he would injure any of them in any way. In fact, he would be about as kind and gentle as could be. Pat never became quite as friendly as Tom was, yet was clearly influenced by his new teammate.
One particular summer, the mosquitoes were absolutely horrendous. It sounded like a 747 was hovering over the yard, and they were relentless in their pursuit of the horses. For those few weeks when they were so horrible, I would move nearly all the horses to the riding ring for the night. There wasn’t grass for mosquitoes to wait in hiding, and I lit smudges so that the horses could find some relief from the tormenting insects.
That summer we only had one foal. One extremely naughty, absolutely spoiled foal, but not spoiled by us. Pat and Tom spoiled that foal. The little begger would run around attacking the other horses, then run for protection to the real muscle, the heavy horses. The naughty little beast knew exactly what it was doing, and the ongoing exchanges were hilarious to watch. Again and again, the little foal would launch it’s attacks, then run to stand between Pat and Tom. Any horse that even dared to act like it intended to mete out discipline, would be met with instant disapproval. I swear, I could almost hear that foal jeering at the grownups, and may even have stuck it’s tongue out a time or two, though that could have simply been my imagination. What was clear, was that said foal was using the big boys, and they encouraged it. Even mama had to watch her step, which was ridiculous.
I love trees. I love how they look, how they provide shelter from wind, snow and sun, and how wonderful they smell after a rain, especially the conifers. I decided to plant some shade tree saplings along the outside of the heavy horse pen, figuring that it wouldn’t be too many years before they provided welcome shade to the drafts. With this in mind, I planted a nice row along one end of the pen, and about four feet from the fence. The next day when I went to water them, they were simply gone! There was no indication that they’d been dug up or chewed off, they had just disappeared.
Not one to quit, I planted again, with the same result. The same with the following two days. Planting trees for fifth time, I made sure that the trees were marked so they wouldn’t be accidentally mowed down or driven over, tamped the soil with my feet to make sure they were in there well and good, then decided that they weren’t going anywhere. This time, they were in there well and good. Satisfied with the job I’d done, I set my shovel into the wheelbarrow and walked away.
I don’t know what prompted me to glance back at the baby trees, but when I did, I stopped dead in my tracks. There was Tom, big rump way in the air, one shoulder on the ground, and his head and neck under the bottom plank of the fence! Stunned by the sight, I stood dumbfounded as that top lip reached out like a giraffe’s, swept a precious sapling into the eager lips, and happily chewed away. I could hardly believe what I was seeing. A second later, Pat lowered himself to the ground, and did exactly the same! Those two big galoots were my tree thieves! Needless to say, I gave up trying to plant trees there. Apparently, snacks were more important than shade.
When I hollered at them, the giant beggers simply looked at with innocent surprise, just like a couple of kids caught with a hand in the cookie jar.
Right then, Hubby came to collect them for a bath. Did he believe me when I told him what his darling horses had done? Not a chance. I’m not entirely, one hundred percent sure, but it certainly seemed to me that they were smirking as they walked by. Rotten brats, they deserved bath time, something many horses dislike, yet even that was surprising. Hubby, being the trucker he was, got out his pressure washer, turned down the strength of the spray, and got to work. Those two big geldings, they stood there and appeared to thoroughly enjoy every single minute of it.
“See what perfect horses they are?” he practically gloated with a proud grin, “They wouldn’t do anything bad, not a thing.”
Of course I had to prove him wrong. Going back to the pen, I planted a couple of saplings while hubby finished up then waited for their return. After they were back, we stood a bit away and out of sight, but nothing.
Those two cohorts went about their business, eating hay, scratching backs, generally being horses, but they never even looked towards the new trees, not even once.
“I have things to do,” hubby stated, “I can’t stand around here all day.”
That being said, he left. He was barely out of sight when the two giant brats were after the trees again. Smart? You bet.

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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