I was never fond of horses — starting with the ones on my parent’s farm.
To me, they were too big, too stubborn, and had mean back legs. Perhaps, had I been a bit taller, getting a harness on them wouldn’t have been quite so hard.
It might have been different if I hadn’t had to steer them down a row of alfalfa, wanting them to go this way and they wanting to go that way. I did this while at the same time trying to get a rake full of hay and not leaving too much in the field, which my father didn’t like. At least I wouldn’t have thought them so ornery.
Just as with other animals, if you’re scared of them they sense it and enjoy being all the more difficult. What I know is that I liked driving a tractor much more than a team of horses. I also can’t remember ever wanting to ride them, except on a merry-do-round. I do recall seeing a photo of my sister and me on one. I wonder what my mother had to bribe me with to do it. Fortunately, horses weren’t around our farm for too many years of my young life.
This dislike of horses, other than watching them march is a parade all dolled-up, carried through into my married life. My husband didn’t like them anymore than I did. It was different for the children. No matter how much several of them wanted a horse, my husband stood his ground. That is until one summer when he finally gave in. For several Sunday afternoons we drove around the countryside, looking for the right one. By then he decided it might be better to buy two horses since "it’s not fun to go horseback riding by yourself."
Buying two horses together was mistake No. 1. Horses seem to like to follow each other. Where one goes, so does the other, and you’d better know how to handle them if you want them to do otherwise.
It isn’t wise to run horses in the same pasture or feedlot with dairy cattle. The require different feed. Thus, our two newly purchases animals were stalled in a pole shed. This was mistake No. 2. Occasionally, they’d fight and kick and this certainly didn’t do the steel any good on that shed. I now know why horsestalls are normally wood — thick wood!
When the kids were out riding them and started to return home, the horses seemed to think it was a game and would race to see which one got to the shed first, There was no stopping them and the riders had to hang on for dear life. The horses knew who was boss. I also now know the meaning of "horse sense." After one daughter fell off, even with no broken bones, we had had enough and the decision was made that horses weren’t for us. Besides, one of the animals was getting sluggish and must be older than we had been told. Some of our family was sad, others glad to see them go. The story doesn’t end here. We eventually visited with the people who bought them from us. They were happy with their purchase and loved them both, even the one we thought "didn’t quite have it." Unbeknown to us, she was bred when we got her and had presented them with a nice colt. They were thrilled! And the mother was now healthy as could be. Seems that was mistake No. 3 for us! We were happy for them and also happy for ourselves, having made the decision to continue farming with something we were much more familiar with, that being our herd of dairy cattle.
Marianne Bianchi is a retired farm wife who lives in New Ulm, Mnn.