The gift horse |

The gift horse

Baxter Black

Dave came by. I had seen him last week at the horse sale. “Did you sell that horse you were on, what was his name?”

“Dumbo,” he said. “Dumbest horse I’ve ever rode! I got him from a Forest Ranger. She gave him to me as a gift. Apparently, the horse was the result of one of those unplanned pregnancies. Seems someone, late one night and without her knowledge, had left this shaggy little mustang stallion in her corral. As luck would have it he managed to get up next to the Forest Ranger’s good mare and get her in the family way.

“But he is dumb, I mean, I’m ridin’ two three-year-olds… right now! It took me less than twenty minutes to train ’em to open a gate! Sidepass from the right on one side. Through the gate, sidepass to the left and close it! Simple, but not for him.

“I spent two hours pushing, prodding, leaning, leading and reaching, trying to get Dumbo in position. He reacted like he and the gatepost were opposing magnets! So I dropped a horn knot over my saddle horn, ran it around the post and pulled on the other end! Closest I could get was 3 1/2 feet… at a 45 degree angle!

“In the round pen I attempted to familiarize him to a rope. You’d have thought it was a live electrical wire! I started uncoiling, he was snorting and blowing and prancing. I’ve never been on a Lipizzaner before but now I know how it feels!

“I made a loop and accidentally hit him on the rump with the tip. In his exuberance to escape, he tripped over himself, fell against the rails, and dumped me out over the right shoulder. I’ve still never roped an animal from his back!

“He’s never learned to walk a straight line or follow the trail. He’s jiggin’ and trottin’ from side to side, in the brush, in the bar ditch, against the bob wire. He reins better when I hold a fishing pole over his head and dangle an ear of corn. That’s tolerable on a big gather but pretty unhandy in the sorting alley. That and the fact that he’s scared of cows!

“Oh, and he’d never been shod. He didn’t kick but wouldn’t stand still, always leaning, dancing or pulling back. He’d hold a minute for the trimming but he couldn’t abide the hammer! I finally got the dumb bugger shod… in the horizontal position!”

I asked what he had brought at the sale. “Two hundred and ten dollars,” said Dave.

“Surely he must have some good points,” I said.

“Yeah,” said Dave. “For one, he was easy to catch. But then you had to ask yourself, “What’s the point?”

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