Buggy Horses

by Joe McCarter (In His Father's Voice)

I'd pretty much always had a good saddle horse or two of my own to get around with and have sure owned my share of good horses. But after Janey and me were married gettin' around was a little more complicated. Altogether we owned fifteen or twenty head of horses about half and half saddle and draft stock. I had one good light team which was fine on a small wagon or hack, but not very stylish when it came to goin' somewhere. They'd done fine to drive a set of light bobs to Hailey last winter when we got married and brought most of our stuff back. I also had two other good heavy teams that Card and I had used for freighting.

What I didn't have was a buggy team even though I had a pretty good buggy and harness I'd picked up cheap at a sale the summer before. It had a padded seat and a canopy that didn't look too shabby and the wheels were tight and nothin' was patched up or anything. I'd never really took time to figger out which two of the saddle stock was gonna get elected to pull it around, but now it was necessary. Some saddle horses don't mind the harness a bit as well as most draft horses don't object too strong if someone gets aboard. But some do, and you never know for sure 'til you try.

The Mormons had finished up their reservoir on the south side that summer and had got their settlement at Manard pretty well goin' and were throwin' a celebration for Mormon Day. Just about ever'body you talked to was goin'. There was s'posed to be a little rodeo and foot races and a picnic all ended up with a dance at what they called their Manard Hall or Church House. As I say, ever'body was wantin' to go and that included me and Janey even though she was carryin' Marjie, but wasn't too far along.

I had a couple of brown mares, one was the mother of the other, that showed some breedin' and were stylish enough, so I guessed they'd be the ones. Neither was broke much as the filly was only four, but neither one had ever showed any kickin' or hell raisin' and, with Claude's help, I hitched 'em one at a time with an old draft horse to a wagon and drove them around a little. They were both pretty insulted actin', but never raised any real hell.

Claude came over early the mornin' of the celebration and by blindfoldin' the mare and tying the filly to her, we got 'em hooked to the buggy with only a little trouble. With the mare snubbed to Claude's saddle horse, we circled the yard a few times and things seemed pretty calm. Claude said they were as classy a lookin' buggy team as he'd seen for a while. I'd taken time the day before to trim their manes and tails and curried 'em up good.

I helped Janey up to the seat and, takin' a good holda the lines, told Claude to turn 'em to me. He half-hitched the halter rope to the mare's hame, and we were off with about as wild a ride as we ever had.

In lessen two jumps they were both at a dead run and it seemed like they was never gonna run outta steam. The tugs had never tightened. I was pullin' the rig with the lines. With Janey hangin' round my neck and my feet braced against the dash board, I had a good deal of leverage on those lines, but it sure as hell seemed like a long time before I could get 'em slowed any at all.

Finally, with their gettin' some winded and their mouths gettin' a little sore, I got 'em down to a lope at least and was just about to a trot when I hear a damn car behind us and I remember Claude sayin' that he and another young blade had worked up a deal with Ed McMasters to haul them and their girls to the celebration in his Buick touring car.

As fast as we were goin' now the car caught up pretty quick and of course there was a lot of yellin' and wavin' and the horn goin' uuooga-uuooga as they came around. This sure set 'em off again and it was about all the Buick could do to finally get ahead. I had all my weight on the left line to keep out of the ditch and with some luck, managed.

Them two mares had about as much bottom as a horse can have cayuse mostly with some breedin' on the horse side of it and they never slowed beyond a trot for the fourteen miles or so we covered. Although by the time we got to the celebration I didn't have much trouble circlin' them, I was real glad to have Claude already there to help get 'em anchored.

Most of the hitchin' racks looked a little weak, but there was a good stout corral, and we tied up to one of the posts so they'd be sure and stay. Later that afternoon I got a pail and packed 'em each a couple of bucketfuls of water and, while they was pretty stuck up with sweat, they didn't show any bad effects.

Janey was a little weak, but all right, and we had a good time watchin' the doins' and visitin' with ever'body. The Mormons put on a pretty good do, all in all. To tell the truth though I was thinkin' quite a bit about the trip home in the dark. We was plannin' on stayin' for the dance, as most of the young folks was, so when Claude sidled up and asked what I'd take to trade rigs for the trip home, I didn't have to do a lot of studyin'. He and Ethel Fields had started a pretty heavy romance and seems they wanted a little more privacy for the trip home than they'd get in the Buick.

For Janey and me the ride home was fun. It was the farthest either of us had ever been in a car, and I guess you could say we both figgered they was here to stay.

When he brought the rig back, Claude wouldn't say much about their trip home. I don't imagine he had too much time for sparkin'. The rig and harness was okay though, so I knew he and Ethel hadn't lost any hide or anythin'. He was a little cool for a while, but afterwards we had some pretty good laughs about it. Claude was a good hand with a horse.

The filly turned out to be about as good a mare as a feller could want. Raised some damn fine colts as well as taught ever'one of the kids to ride. I named her Brownie, and she lived thirty two years.

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