The Little Horse from Hell

“I can break that horse.” or “There ain’t a horse alive I can’t break.”  If I heard it once, I heard it a hundred times.  Daddy always said, ” Give ‘er a try.”  I saw that little Shetland buck men and boys off all over the back yard, alley, and almost every main artery in Durant.  To her dying day no one ever broke Daisy.

I came about as close to it as anyone and I was no success by any stretch.  Daddy had a little saddle made for her in Mexico.  It was all hand tooled and the perfect size, but Daisy didn’t like it.

Jenny and the Horse from Hell

I’d get the bit in her mouth and the reins thrown over each side, race into the garage and drag the blanket and saddle out.  I’d carefully and quietly, talking softly and sweetly, lead Daisy all the way to the high end of the back porch where there were no steps.  Just as I’d get hold of the reins and about get my left foot in the stirrup, she’d simply kick those hind legs up sending me scrambling off onto the ground while I tried to keep from getting kicked with Gus rushing in front of her to get her attention.

I did get to ride her some but it usually ended in some catastrophe.  She was really good at letting me get on her and then running through the wet clothes hanging out to dry and trying to decapitate me with the clothes line.  I learned to duck before she ever hurt me, but she thought I wouldn’t remember about the clothes line. She always tried that first.

The next tactic which was fairly successful was to run me closely by a rough wood fence.  I lived the first few years with Daisy scarring my right leg into a solid pattern of bloody scabby scratches.  I think the fence had been painted but had never been sanded.  I probably didn’t weigh much over fifty pounds so that I never could exert enough pressure in the stirrups and pull hard enough on the bit to stop her, rather she’d back up a couple of steps and start that kicking with her back legs.  It was all I could do to hang on.  I feared that if I ever flew over her head, she’d take a nice step either on my stomach or head and then start kicking me in the head.  I lived in constant fear of that horse; Gus did too.

But, in spite of all the near death experiences she dealt me, the only time she ever really got me was when she bit me.  I was foolish enough to squat down by the fence and pull some fresh green grass from the other side for her.  With my back to her and my left elbow pointed up in the air, she clamped down and would not let go.  I screamed and screamed.

Gus tried his best to growl and threaten her, but she had the upper hand in this deal and she wasn’t about to let go.  Finally after what seemed a couple of hours, actually about three to four minutes Gus managed to herald mama’s attention.  She ran out with the switch she used on me and whipped her until she let go.  I have never believed that switch had any effect on her; she had simply made up her own mind to let go of my elbow.  I had horse teeth marks for months.  It just goes to show how resilient kid’s bones are because if she had pulled this trick on someone my age now she’d crushed every bone her teeth clamped on.

One of my favorite adages is only a fool keeps making the same mistake but expecting different outcomes.  I think it’s my favorite because it fit my family so perfectly.  I inherited the trait directly, every dab of DNA from each parent equally.

The only reason I got that she devil horse was that my parents were going through one of their hundredth separations.  For some unknown reason my daddy promised my mama that if she’d go back to him, he’d buy me a pony.  Why that could have ever been a point of reconciliation, I never understood.  We brought Daisy home in the back seat of a ’48 Ford sedan.

She was so cute, so sweet, so misleading.  I remember we drove to Ada, Oklahoma, to Ace Hutchinson’s Shetland Pony Ranch and bought a little dapple gray filly.  In those days Shetland ponies were a fairly expensive novelty, but the moment we got home and she stepped out of the car, she was one crazy, mean horse.  Later, after the Shetland pony novelty had worn off and we had forty-two of them, you couldn’t give them away.  But my daddy even went so far as to buy forty acres to house them until most of the herd died which took about twenty-nine years.

Just as I kept trying the same tactics to ride Daisy and ending up with the same miserable outcomes, my parents continued to try to resolve their differences and ended up with the same separations for thirteen years before they divorced.  The ultimate irony in all this is that they started dating in junior high, didn’t marry until he was thirty; she, twenty-eight, and didn’t have me until two years later.  But if longevity had any thing to do with the situations, they never got over each other even though they each married other people.  For this they made my life hell and to this day I can admit right here that I never did and never will forgive them, nor Daisy.

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