Trudy Andrew | Canadian Author

Horse Tails

The Logic of a Child

Anyone who reads the tales I tell, knows I wasn’t born into a horse family. My parents didn’t understand my fascination, but they didn’t try to curb it either. Get what I did there, curb my enthusiasm? Anyway, I had all kinds of horse toys and books, horse posters all over my walls, and had a scrapbook full of newspaper clippings of anything to do with horses. I drew horses, breathed horses, dreamt horses, yet didn’t own one. I did however, have access to them, sort of. Every neighbour who owned a horse or pony, knew who I was. I was standing by the fence, trying to coax them over with handfuls of grass. I learned to whinny like a horse, and was thrilled when they replied. Of course, I had no idea what I was saying, but I got reactions, so that was pretty great.
Not too far from us was a family, who owned several, lovely horses. When the whole family went to the cottage for the summer, except the father, I dared ask if he needed anyone to exercise the horses while they were gone, no charge, of course. To my child’s mind, it made the deal all the sweeter. Imagine getting someone to exercise, brush and love on your horses … for free. Well, I don’t know why he said yes, but he did. He said, if my friend and I used whatever was around, we could ride the palomino, Marigold as well as the big buckskin mare, Dinah.
We found loose ring snaffles, a couple of brushes and a curry comb. Our reins and lead ropes were binder twine. Using everything I’d learned up until that point, I bitted the horses so that they had a little smile, and we rode. It was the best summer of, my young life. We rode almost every day. If my friend couldn’t come, I went on my own. I was in horse heaven.
My escapades weren’t without a few bumps and scrapes. After all, I was riding bareback, and Dinah was as round as a barrel. Looking back on it, I’m amazed I did so well. It was only because the horses were amazing that I survived that summer. Fences were the means by which a little kid could climb onto a horse. Thick manes were great handles and gentle dispositions carried us through the hot, summer days. As the days went by and my confidence grew, I got it into my head that I wanted to gallop. I’d mastered walking and trotting all over the pasture. I wanted to do more. I wanted to do, what I saw people in magazines and shows did. I wanted to go fast.
I chose to give it a go, one lovely, summer day. I was by myself, but that wasn’t about to stop me. Beyond excited by the prospect, I could hardly wait to run like the wind. I was going to feel the breeze on my face and through my hair. I was going to hear the pounding of hooves as Dinah carried me with the speed of a race car.
Dinah was a beautiful horse. A big, buckskin mare, she was willing and sweet. She never did anything wrong, and I adored her. As always, she dropped her head so I could place the bit into her mouth. As always, twine was my reins. Now, in my child’s mind, I figured that a horse needed a lot of room to gallop. I couldn’t expect her to get up to full speed, if I didn’t give her the space to do so. With that in mind, away we went, to the very back of the pasture. I’m guessing it was about a quarter mile to the back fence. The field was divided into two, long pastures that both ended at a pen that was around the back and side of the barn.
The ride was wonderful. The sun was warm on my face. The birds were singing, my heart was full of joy, and I was beyond thrilled with the prospect of what I was about to do. I was going to gallop. Really gallop, just like in all the books, I loved to read. Dinah must’ve known something was up. She did this lovely prance, all the way out there. When we arrived at the furthest point in the pasture, I turned her around then asked her to go. Well, we were in a full gallop in a single stride. Along that fence we blazed, like her tail was on fire. I wasn’t riding the wind. I was riding a freight train. Dinah sounded like a locomotive as she thundered along, me but a flea upon her great, flat back. We covered that ground in seconds. She was all muscle and excitement. I clung like a woodtick. Not once, did it enter my head that I should ask her, to slow her pace. I was on for the ride, one that was coming to an end, rather quickly.
Dinah must’ve made adjustments for the sharp turns that came up on us, far too soon. There was a hard left, which I managed to stick, then a hard right, which I also stuck through. It was the next and last sharp turn to the left that was finally my undoing. Dinah and I parted company. I sailed through the air, only to be abruptly stopped in midflight, by a three-point tree. Now, to those who may ask what a three-point tree is, it’s a tree with three trunks coming up from the base. I hit that tree with my face, but lived to tell the story. I had a lovely scrape on my forehead, nose and chin, yet I didn’t stop to think about it. I had a horse to catch, which wasn’t hard at all. I had to cool her off and brush her down. After that was done, I hopped on my bike, and headed home.
“Oh, my goodness,” my mother’s eyes opened wide, when she caught sight of me, “what in the world, did you do now?”
“I fell off my bike,” I explained, as she rushed me to the bathroom for some doctoring up, “I was going too fast.”
“You and that bike,” she sighed and shook her head. For you see, whenever I hurt myself on a horse, I always blamed my bike. There was no way, I was going to risk being told, I couldn’t ride. The bike and clumsiness were always to blame.
Over the next few weeks, I learned the difference between cantering and galloping. My wild ride hadn’t scared me, but it certainly gave me a lot to think about. My logic wasn’t very good that day, yet I learned a good lesson. A horse doesn’t need a lot of room to pick up a gait. In fact, they can go from zero to forty in no time at all. I’ll never forget, my first ever gallop.

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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