Why I have miniature horses

by Gwen Petersen
Big Timber, Mont.

I own miniature horses and am often razzed about this sad affliction. A cowpoet pal even wrote a poem and delivered it to an audience. Everybody chortled, including me. The poem is very short:

She raises miniature horses, oh my,

The only question is ” why?

To learn the answer to that facetious ditty, read on.

Yesterday, while feeding hay to five of my minis enclosed in a corral, a bale string attacked. It leaped off the ground and snaked around my foot.

Why, you may ask, was a bale string lurking on the ground anyway? For shame, you might say. Everybody knows it’s against the code of the ranch to allow baling twine to roam freely on the range or in the corral. Anyone knows that bale strings must be gathered together, tied in bundles and placed in the bed of the pickup where they ride around ’til spring. Or some ranchers prefer hanging the twine on upright poles stuck in the pole-holes of the pickup where they wave like a comet’s tail ’til spring. Still other ranchers drop the twine clumps in the burn barrel and when the barrel is full, the contents are set on fire.

Whatever disposal style is used, the point is ” it’s a big sin to have strings littering the terrain. So, you may ask, why was a rogue bale string loitering in my corral? Why hadn’t I captured and incarcerated it along with the others?

Weather is the answer. The string somehow went unnoticed among the horse apples. One end of the twine sank its tail deeply into the mire, and froze there resisting all my efforts to pull it out.

No problem, I thought. A warm day would come along, then I’d yank the orange cord loose. My mistake.

While I wasn’t paying attention, the evil twine formed a loop and now I know how a calf feels in a team roping contest. I got heeled and went kersplat! Face down in the plentiful pile of horse apples ” which cushioned my fall.

However, lying flat in the middle of a space where there was no handy snubbing post, ledge or other solid gear to use to hoist me upright was a problem. (Lower extremities having the springiness and strength of cooked noodles is an age-related condition). So there I lay, contemplating the world from a worm’s eye view.

Meanwhile five miniature horses were busily munching on the hay I’d spread. One of them, a filly curious as a cat, wandered over and put her nose down to mine. I think she said in horse language, “Whatcha doin’?”

“Trying to get up,” I said.

The filly began nuzzling my pocket where she was sure I was hiding a horse-cake treat.

“Go away,” I said, as I struggled to get my feet under me. Nothing worked. I needed a hand hold or something vertical in order to winch up. I grabbed the filly’s front leg, then reached for her mane. She lifted her head and I hung on while she backed away. I got both arms around her neck. She sped up her backward velocity. (You’re getting the picture, right?)

She became my hairy hand-hold, a furry anchor, a hirsute helper. She was the reason I was able to establish a vertical view of the world. Once upright and in charge of my limbs, I whipped out my pocket knife and cut the killer bale string off at its roots. Then I gave my assisted-living filly a sweet treat, went to the house, shed my apple-coated garments and indulged in a nice hot shower.

And that’s why I have miniature horses.


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