Great Things Come in Small Packages
Greetings fellow story lovers!
Shortly after my young daughters and I began taking riding lessons, I dreamed of buying a horse of our own. In order to save money, I considered bidding for a wild horse at a Bureau of Land Management auction. I read many books and articles, and attended an auction where I wistfully stared at a pregnant mare. For only $125 I’d be able to get a mother and her foal. But I’d done enough research to know the many regulations about owning a wild horse. Furthermore, a horse newly captured from the Nevada range would take extensive training.
I never did buy a wild horse. It’s just as well since Candy, the quarter horse I ultimately purchased, turned out to be wild enough for me. But my research on wild horses gave me something else. The background which inspired my first novel, WHINNY OF THE WILD HORSES.
Great Things Come in Small Packages
Animals can be great teachers, and my horse Candy was one of the best. The first time we brought her and Shaton, our recently purchased Arabian, to our northern Wisconsin cabin, we enjoyed playing games such as jogging while trying to keep an egg on a spoon. The most fun, though, was exploring the woods. My daughter and I must have looked curious to the deer, because they stood mesmerized, trying to figure out these new six-legged species. One afternoon we rounded a bend to see a mother bear and her cub. Afraid the horses would spook, I tensed, ready for a buck, but the horses simply watched as the bears hurried into the brush.
Feeling pretty smug that we’d survived the week without major incidents, the time came to go home. Shaton walked right into the trailer, but Candy put two feet in, then backed out. She planted her hooves on the ground and wouldn’t move.
I tried sweet talking and tempting her with carrots. No luck. My husband tried using his strength, pulling her in, but there was no muscling a 1500-pound quarter horse. “Ride her until she’s so tired she’ll want to get in the trailer,” my husband said. (These were not his exact words, by the way, but this is a family blog.) I was skeptical but spent the next two hours galloping her down the trails. My butt and back were so sore I would have gladly ridden home in the trailer myself. Candy, however, was as spunky and stubborn as ever.
Desperate, I called a trainer in the area. Tina, who must have weighed 110 pounds, stepped out of her pickup along with her young daughter. My husband and I raised our eyebrows at one another. Tina pulled out a simple chain, attached it to a lead line, fastened it around Candy’s muzzle, rattled it so she’d know it was there, then walked her forward. Candy refused to move. Tina barked, “That’s enough!” She yanked down on the chain. Candy’s eyes widened. So did mine. “Back!” Candy backed and I think I caught sight of my husband taking a step back as well.
Tina called to her daughter, “Wave the whip.” She tugged on the chain and walked Candy toward the trailer. Candy promptly stepped ahead, then just like a uniformed soldier, stepped smartly into the trailer. The entire operation had taken less than five minutes.
As I shelled over Tina’s modest fee, she said, “Get yourself a bit of chain and you’ll be fine. It doesn’t hurt her. She just wants to know who’s in charge.”
As Tina walked toward her pickup, I once again took stock of the petite woman who had ended our six-hour nightmare. Great things come in small packages.
Storysharer would love to hear horse tales from you. Bring them on!