Tuesday, September 20, 2016

A Horse Name Pepsi - EV Melotte




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Here is a weird fact.  3% of Americans own 133 million guns of the total 265 million guns out there.  That 3% averages 17 guns for each person.

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The average road in America is 28.5 years old.  Both parties (except in Wisconsin) have promised higher spending on infrastructure improvements. Wisconsin's budget is in such disarray that spending is being cut.

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Julia Louis-Dreyfus won her 5th Emmy and a few days earlier became one of the riches woman in the world when her father (Gérard Louis-Dreyfus) passed away. Gérard was worth $3.6 BILLION ten years ago.

Of course this hits me hard because my buddy who was our drummer in my high school rock band (Wonderhorse) and then went on to tour with Flock of Seagulls and now is in The Bad Think.  His wife Winnie is only worth $1.5 BILLION.   phhht  what can you do with $1.5B,



Mike in Wonderhorse

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A Horse Named Pepsi - EV Melotte

In 1940, the summer I was twelve, we moved onto one of my grandmother’s Iowa farms, as tenant farmers.

The farm already had cows, pigs and chickens, but no horses.  There was an ancient and undependable Farmall tractor, and Pa already owned a small, dependable Allis-Chalmers tractor.  We had no real need of horses, and I’ve never known what urge caused Pa to buy two quarter horses.

He bought them from the owner of a riding academy near Iowa Falls.  They had been proven difficult and dangerous for riding purposes and he was glad to sell them for not much more than he would have gotten from the knackers.

Pa said they’d be useful for light work—but light work was easily handled by the Allis-Chalmers.  He said I could ride them to bring in the cows—but if they were too obstreperous to be ridden with saddles and supervision, how did he think I could handle them bareback, among ornery and bad-tempered cows?

Maybe he couldn’t resist a bargain.  Maybe he was missing having a pair of draft animals under his control.  Maybe he just didn’t want such pretty animals to be destroyed.  Pa always did like animals better than humans.

I named the bay horse Pepsi and the black one Coke.  Coke doesn’t come into my life story except as a horse I didn’t ride because she was determined not to be ridden.  I don’t care what anyone says, it takes an Indian or a six-foot-two hero of a Louis L’Amour western novel to mount a bareback horse who doesn’t want you up there.

Pepsi seemed perfectly willing to be ridden.  Her problem was a weakness in her left front leg that caused her to stumble often, throwing her rider over her head.  Pa said I had to be considerate of that weakness—I might just walk her, or allow a slow trot if the surface was smooth.  She would be less likely to stumble and I’d be less likely to be hurt.

What we both failed to realize, and Pa never did realize it, was that there was nothing wrong with her leg.  That supposed stumble was a deliberate dropping to her left knee to unseat her rider.
Not that she had any intrinsic objection to a rider, but a bored horse has to do something for a little fun._______

By the time I’d ridden after the cows for a few weeks, and taken a dozen or so spills, I found that if I stayed alert, gripped her sides “just-so” with my knees, and pulled her head up sharply in the first split-second she started dipping the knee, I could stay on and often avert the “stumble” entirely.

Then she took to walking under trees with low branches.  Her favorite tree for that game was the one in the pasture that we called a Redhaw.  The correct name was Cockspur Hawthorne.  The branches were high enough for a small horse to pass under, but too low for the horse’s rider.  She would head straight for that tree, and no amount of pulling on the reins, or yelling “Whoa!” or slapping at the side of her neck with the ends of the reins would turn her aside.  Her feet would make a bee-line for that tree even while her head was pulled around at right angles to her shoulders.

As an adult I came to realize that the thorns on that Cockspur Hawthorne couldn’t possibly have been as long and strong and deadly as I remember them, so I checked my book on Tree Identification.  The book says the thorns are three to four inches long, firmly attached, and capable of penetrating a pine board, so I remembered them rightly.

At the last moment I have to roll off her back, and pick myself up off the ground as she blithely walked under, rider-less and no doubt chuckling to herself, and then I’d catch her reins and mount up again.

Being an obedient daughter I normally held her to a walk or a slow trot, but I noticed she could move mighty fast when that one mean cow with the horns charged us, or when we had to chase across the pasture to bring that same cow back with the herd.

I’d had no personal experience with horses.  Pa said she was a quarter-horse and I don’t believe that meant anything to him except that she was small and therefore unsuited to heavy pulling.  Pa didn’t read Western novels.  I did.  I knew that quarter-horses were bred to work with cattle, to have the endurance to carry a rider all day and most of the night, and to be capable of short bursts of tremendous  speed up to a quarter of a mile.  I thought about that a lot when she acted irritated at being held in check—but I was an obedient daughter.

I never mentioned what I thought to Pa.  Pa was entirely a military man and ran his family as a military unit.  Privates don’t explain the situation to the General.

I don’t remember what errand I’d been on the first day I rode her down the wide shoulder of the highway.  I was on my way home from somewhere.  She was restless and tossing her head, mouthing at the bit, I was holding her to a walk.

There was no traffic in sight.  The shoulder as smooth packed dirt.  I was out of sight of our farm.

Impulse.  I let the reins go slack and said “O.K., girl. Let ‘er go.”  Her head came up, her ears stood straight up, her slow pace faltered.  I gave the reins a loose shake and her rump a gentle slap.  “Gee-up, old girl! Let ‘er rip!”

She took off like she had just realized she was in the Derby and only half a head behind the leader.  Like there was a posse, or a dozen Comanche on our tail.  She took off so sudden-and so fast- that she almost left me behind on the highway.

I clamped my legs as tight against her as I could and grabbed her mane to stay on until I’d pulled myself forward to where I was supposed to be on her back, and then I just leaned way forward and yelled “Yee-hah!”  Oh how that horse could run!

We rode for a little way, less than a quarter mile, and then I slowed her to a canter entered our side road at a sedate trot and walked her into our yard, and she pranced and danced and side-stepped and expressed her satisfaction every foot of the way.  If she’d been a dog, she’d have been licking my face.

I had her in her stall, rubbing her down when Pa came in and saw that she’d been sweating.  Pa had seldom bawled me out, -- I didn’t give him any reason to, but he did that day.

Privates don’t explain situations to Generals.  I said I was sorry.  I said I wouldn’t do it again.
But I did.  I did it again every time I was pretty sure I wouldn’t get caught.

Pepsi never stumbled again.  She still walked under the Redhaw tree, but by the time I left Iowa, in the summer of 1942, she was voluntarily stopping just short of it to allow me to dismount properly.

And I can’t prove a thing, but I always knew she was chuckling to herself as she came to me on the far side of the tree and waited for me to re-mount.

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A lot of unsettled weather coming the next 3 days.  We had 0.76 inches in the storms yesterday!

Rod