Trudy Andrew | Canadian Author

Horse Tails

Just Imagine

Imagine yourself a city teen, one who never had anything to do with large animals, and you would be imagining my father. He was a teenager at the start of the second world war, and youthful curiousity was as much a part of him, as it was any young person. That curiousity took him to places he was better off staying away from, but if he had, I wouldn’t have this story to tell.
When the German army occupied the Netherlands, they ‘bought’ all the livestock, horses included. When I say bought, I mean animals were taken, and the owner was given a piece of paper that said there would be eventual payment. Of course that never happened, nor was the intention ever even a possibility either. It was a simple way of taking, with a minimum amount of fuss.
The airports were devoid of planes. They’d either left the country before the occupation began, or were taken. Instead of planes, the hangars were full of horses. Long rows of all sizes of horses, and according to my father, most of them were huge. That observation needs to be taken with a grain of salt, as to a city boy, all horses were huge. I can remember sitting entranced, as he told his tales, and this is one I remember very well. What he saw when he peered through a hole in the wall were the rows of horses, and a good many of them were freaking out. They had a very good reason for their behaviour, instead of proper stalls, the horses were divided by heavy planks hanging from the ceiling by chains. Planks hanging from ceilings by chains aren’t even remotely stationary. Not only did they swing back and forth, but to and fro as well. Horses, well they’re not that keen on being smacked by a plank, and most reacted quite dramatically, from being hit by swinging planks. Watching all wide-eyed, awed by the commotion, he was amazed by the power horses possessed. Apparently there were horses bucking, kicking, pulling back and more or less losing their minds, and planks were being launched into the air so high, the odd one hit the ceiling!
Beyond fascinated, he was so busy watching the goings on that he forgot to pay attention to his surroundings. When a large, strong hand grabbed him by the neck in a vice-like grip, it was too late. He’d been seen and caught. Forcibly taken around and into the hangar full of commotion, he was put to work cleaning ‘stalls’ with horses still in them. As my father told this story from when he was young, I could just imagine how truly terrifying it must have been for anyone, never mind a non-horseperson. He escaped at his first opportunity, and never went back there again, though he was captured and taken from his home a couple of times after that time.
I understood how he felt about horses, how they made him uneasy, and why he couldn’t understand my fascination with them. That one experience had shaken and frightened him, and he was justified to feel that way. Hundreds of horses losing their minds, imagine it.

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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