Dad loaned a horse to Percy Law to cultivate his garden. Percy was black. Well there were two horses in the barn, Queen and Old Dick. Dad intended Percy to get Queen but Dad wasn't there and Queen seldom spoke her name. Percy didn't look at gender when he tried to put the harness on; however, he never went in the barn again without Dad's presence. Percy had a "Grotto" manner of speaking and, luckily, a sense of humor, I'll bet the whites of four eyes rimmed with black hide were readily apparent that day.
I never really worked with the first team of dapple grays, Kit and Beck. I drove them but never really alone. Tom and Duke were more my horses. I drove them a lot.
I was about 10 I guess, when Dad needed some hay mowed just over the hill from the house. He helped me hitch up Tom and Duke and see me on my way. The result was satisfactory and the hay was mowed, probably a lot "on the shares" , that is, a substantial share of hay was left un mowed.
It seems my Mother was more than mildly upset when she learned my Dad had sent a two year old colt and a three year old colt with a 10 year old boy and an 8 foot cutter bar just out of sight to mow a field of hay. What's the big deal?
Tom was my boy. As a "less than two year old", I began sneaking rides on him. Well, I got on him a few times and got off him a few times; not necessarily exactly when I was ready. By the time he was two and weighed maybe 1500 pounds, he had acquired some tricky moves which were perfectly adequate to unseat his rider, me. He was never vicious and usually turned around to see if I was Okay before he left the area. Well, I began to get better and used to his moves. So it developed, we could put on a real show in the barnyard. Our lines of communication developed more and he learned there were times for fun and times for work. All I ever needed to do however, was to touch his flanks with my heels and he knew it was playtime. Real athlete, that boy.
He died when he was six. Intestinal inflammation of some sort, the vet said. We lived with him for several days in his stall and while he hurt, I know, he never complained and always seemed to feel better with someone with him. He was great.
Duke! Well Dukey baby was another breed of cat, er colt. He was smart, strong and of the kind that would never have ulcers. He always did his share willingly, but then, one always had to show him what his share was. Unless you drove him between the rows of corn, he walked on the row, even if it was hitting him in the face. He just didn't give a damn.
I really don't mean to malign him because he was a friendly cuss, not mean or bullheaded and always came in for his share of lovin, particularly if the lovin included eatin. He was a beauty and knew it.
After Tom died, Dad sold Duke to the Menzie Dairy who had an 8 horse hitch of dapple gray purcherons. He fell into a little bit of heaven. Sure glad they didn't try to cultivate corn with him.
I get started on a horse story and keep going until somewhere near the end. The proceeding covered a lot of years and there were some other things that occurred in the meantime, so if you have trouble figuring out how old I was with each story, well I'm really still picking up tales that started when I was four or five or ten or twelve. What the hell.