RUN AWAY HORSES
by Jay M Richardson
On the farm we used horses to do the cultivating, plowing, etc., and we learned quite early how to handle a team at most of the farm jobs. One summer, however, we got our first tractor, a small second-hand “John Deere.” We used it just enough that our horses decided they didn’t like to work so well, and whenever we harnessed them their cooperation level was quite low. One young horse whom we called Dock seemed especially rowdy and was sometimes a little difficult to manage. Within a period of about a month when I was about twelve I had three run-aways with these horses and narrowly escaped serious injury or being dragged to death.
One day I was driving the team of Dock and Bird, cutting hay in the field above the house. Something happened to frighten Dock and he started running. In trying to control him, I broke one of the reins and so had to jump off the mower to escape injury as the runaway team headed for the field gate with the mower bouncing along behind them. As they hit the closed gate, harnesses, mowing machine and wire became broken and tangled, the horses fortunately receiving only slight injuries.
A couple of days later, the hat cutting having been completed by a borrowed mowed pulled by the tractor; the hay was ready to be raked. Daddy felt the horses should be worked again to keep them disciplined properly and so again I was the driver with Dock and Bird hitched to the dump rake. After only a short time Dock started acting up again, and stepped on the tongue of the rake and broke it. Of course this frightened the horses again and they started to run. By all physical laws, I should have been thrown forward form my seat atop the rake when the tongue broke, and then raked to death, but somehow I managed to fall of behind the rake as the runaway began again. Well, again the horses were stopped with no serious injuries.
Daddy was still determined to work those horses, and decided to hitch them up to the heavy old hay baler, thinking they couldn’t run away with that and guess who was the driver. I felt that I was spookier than the horses by now, but dutifully6 took the reins, and for the third time in a week was trying to control a team of horses trying to run away. Only with the help of Daddy and Erin running alongside was another serious accident avoided.
That night Mother said, “Jay, you must be careful. The devil is trying to get you.” I was frightened enough to be careful and didn’t drive these horses much more.