The Work Horses


We had various horses or mules on the farm. Horses were used for planting, plowing, mowing and everything else that needed horse power. There were no tractors back then.

My younger brothers Al and Bill began working in the fields with the horses when they were very young, probably eight or nine years old.

One hot steamy summer day Al was out working in the field with the horses when the sky darkened. A Kansas thunder storm suddenly rolled in, gusts of strong winds whipped up heavy clouds of dust. Al was a slender boy and leaned into the wind as he hurriedly tried to unhitch the horses. A streak of lightening and a loud clap of thunder filled the air. The horses panicked. With heads held high they took off like race horses out of the gate heading for the barn. Al was somehow caught on the doubletree and was being dragged bouncing along on the ground.

Mom was in the pantry when she heard the loud clanking of the doubletree hitting the ground and the thundering hoof of the horses She began yelling out of the pantry window “Whoa! Whoa!”. When she saw Al being dragged along she ran out of the house after the horses yelling “Whoa ! Whoa!” as she ran.

The horses ran until they came to a corner fence line. I thought they were going to run right thru the fence but they finally stopped. Mom ran over to see if Al was OK. He laid very still for a minute and then slowly got up. He sure scared the heck out of mom and me but Al acted like it was no big deal.

On one dreary rainy day dad was working in the garage, fixing harnesses and doing all the rainy day chores. He noticed that three of the horses were milling around in the yard beside the barn but Molly one of the horses was missing. Dad told Al and Bill to go find her.

They looked in the barn , all around the pasture and everywhere else they could think of, even checking the fences making sure none of them were down. They came back to tell dad that they couldn’t find Molly. Dad told them to go check the creeks, may she was getting a drink and they missed her. So off they went and that’s where they found her but she was not drinking. She was mired down in a mud hole. She was in mud up to the middle of her body . The mud was kinda like quicksand. The more she tried to get out the farther she sank.

The boys ran home to tell dad where she was. Dad went out to see if he could lead her out of the mud but when he saw her he realized that he wouldn’t be able to lead her out because she was in to deep. Dad knew he had to do something fast because she was getting excited , thrashing about and getting herself in deeper. Dad ran back to the barn, harnessed one of the other horses, took a rope and went back to the creek. After several attempts at lassoing her he finally got the rope over her head. He attached the other end of the rope to the harnessed horse and the horse started pulling. I thought Molly was going to die because the rope was very taut around her neck and she kept gasping for air. After several tries she slowly began to free herself. It’s almost as if Molly knew dad had saved her life. For several weeks she tried to follow dad wherever he went.

One of our horses died and dad needed a replacement. A neighbor, Bud Cherry, had a horse for sale so dad went over to talk to Bud about buying the horse. Bud told dad that the horse he had for sale was good and healthy but he would cone home every day at eleven o’clock. Dad thought “ that horse might come home for Bud Cherry but believe me, he won’t do that to me”. So dad bought the horse and sure enough the first day dad took the horse out to work, no matter what dad did the horse came home. Well, dad heard that if you bit the ear of the horse you could get the horse to do what you wanted so, with everyone watching he pulled the horse’s head down and bit his ear hard. Then he got behind the horse and drove him back out to work. That horse never pulled that eleven o’clock deal again!

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