Trudy Andrew | Canadian Author

Horse Tails

Tractors, Trucks and Scary Things

From the very first time, I rode out of a yard, onto a road, I became very aware of the dangers. It wasn’t the fact that the horses I had the privilege and enjoyment of riding, were barn soured or herd bound that bothered me. It was the traffic that was most worrisome. Tractor traffic could be terrifying to a horse, what with their size, and bizarre looking equipment, they often towed, along with black belches of smoke. Yet tractor traffic, still worried me less than other road traffic. It was the vehicular traffic that was most dangerously reckless. What with their speed, the shower of stones as they sped by, and disregard for the safety of horse and rider, and themselves as well. People don’t seem to have any concept, of the danger they put themselves in. Hitting a horse, is like hitting a moose. The animal goes over the hood, bonnet to those of you who hail from many English founded countries, and goes through the windshield. Being reckless around horses, is a risky, most foolish thing to do, from all sides.
There were only so many options, when meeting a speeding vehicle. Hope it slowed down and moved over, go through the ditch if at all possible, and ride along the edge of a field, or if the field was in summer fallow, move a safe distance into the field. Riding by myself was easiest, as I had nobody to worry about but myself, and my horse. We were, after all, a team, a partnership. I, as the human contingent of the pair, was responsible for our safety, and Thow-ra always behaved.
It was when, others were along for the ride that my concerns compounded. I had to make sure, they were safe. I was, after all, the oldest, and for the most part, the horses and ponies being ridden, were mine. Out of this sense of responsibility, came an idea. An idea that developed into a rather interesting maneuver, involving some fancy footwork, not mine, Thow-ra’s.
Thow-ra was one of those horses, discarded by her owners, because of her age. At twenty-five, they sold her off, probably because they thought she was on borrowed time, her useful days numbered. Their lack of any sense that they owed the old horse anything, was my gain. There had been something about the horse that spoke to me the day I purchased her, and over the years I had her, I was continually learning new things about her. One of the things I learned early on was, that little horse could sidepass like no tomorrow. Her response at being cued was immediate and enthusiastic. I used this talent, to the benefit of all who rode with me. When a vehicle was spotted, coming our way at great speed, clouds of dust billowing in a trail behind, Thow-ra and I would go into action. She would sidepass in both directions, changing multiple times, back and forth across the road. Appearing for all the world, like she was a bit out of control, and the vehicle would inevitably slow to a crawl. As soon as this desired action was accomplished, I would move my suddenly calm horse, to the shoulder of the road, then politely thank the driver for slowing down. It didn’t take very long, before the local drivers began slowing down ahead of time, which was a wonderful thing. I think it was partly in anticipation of the show, but the result was what we wanted.
After Thow-ra retired, Sundance Kidd had to step up to the plate. Now, that big gelding was quite the wingnut. Hot and goofy, he danced, pranced and appeared on the edge, of being out of control. Like Thow-ra, he had a great sidepass, but his had a good deal of flash and impatient fire to it. If you asked just right, he would also oblige, with a hop and rear or two. That rear on command was something the girlchild honed to perfection, when she began riding him in pony club.
Kidd was our one trick pony, so to speak. The sight of over sixteen hands of fiery horse rearing into the air, was an impressive thing indeed. Vehicles always slowed down for the horses, when he acted out of control. Yet there were still drivers, who needed reminding, to move over as well. If only sharing the road was a part of drivers education. What a wonderful thing that would be. Imagine it, safer roads for everyone who uses them, a worthwhile, amazing dream, and achieved without horses rearing like wild things into the air.

  1. I live in the most congested state in the US, New Jersey, where we have more horses per square mile than Texas. My experience with road sharing is: almost all motorcycle riders will at least slow down to a crawl, many will stop and a few will turn off their bikes; bicyclists are rude and think they own the road and almost never move over to the opposite side of the roadway; large trucks for the most part will slow down or stop and wait for a horse to pass; Barbie in her Miata is the worst–roaring past at an excessive speed, radio blasting and often beeping her horn. We do have laws in this state that require motorists to slow to 25 mph and obey hand signals from a horseback rider–lots of luck getting that one enforced.

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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