Horsing around with latest column

This month (July) marks the seventh anniversary of my writing columns for the Tribune Chronicle, with Burton Cole as my current editor. I now submit one column per month with a second column due when there is a fifth Friday, like today, July 30.

The original plan for today’s column was to tell you about several subjects I could write about, but of all the subjects that came to mind, horses prevailed:

My dad was in a cavalry unit in the National Guard way before I ever was. He would tell me about his horse Dynamite, who was so wild that they had to tie his legs together to get a saddle on him. Think about it. How could you get the horse to lie down and how could you strap a saddle to him when he was in that position? And how could he get up if his legs were tied? Oh, well, some stories take a little exaggeration to make them good ones.

One of my first encounters with a horse was when I was 4 years old. Dad always had me doing things before I was really old enough. He thought I was precocious, but I would prove him wrong time and again. I rode around in a circle on top of a huge horse with a tether held by a man in the center of that circle. Everything went well, but, on the way home I felt terrible. Soon, I developed a fever and my cheeks puffed out like a chipmunk’s. My eyes swelled nearly shut. Turns out I was allergic, but, thankfully, I was only allergic to that particular horse.

As that 4-year- old, I liked to feed sugar cubes to the horses in their stalls. I would grasp the sugar cube with the thumb, forefinger and middle finger, hold the cube up to the horse’s mouth and it would chomp away. Little did I realize, until someone caught what I was doing, that I could have become a little kid with only a ring finger and little finger on one hand. I was taught to hold the sugar cube in the palm of my hand.

I used to ride bareback on an ancient pony named Goldie on a farm in West Farmington. She was very docile. I did pretty well until something may have startled her and made her gallop. I clung to her mane until I finally fell off under her. How I missed her hooves, I’ll never know, but when I finally did fall, well, you know, the ground was covered with manure.

As a young adult at the Jack and Jill Ranch in Michigan, I was assigned a horse named Bluebell. We didn’t exactly become instant friends. Among some of the tricks she had for me was to lean against me and just about crush me against the stall wall. She also would accidentally place one forefoot on top of my sneaker-clad foot and put her weight down. In pain, I would grasp her leg and yank it off my foot.

Bluebell was always the last horse in line on the trail. She would stop and graze while the others went off into the distance. She would see that she had to catch up, and would gallop to hurry and catch up. Only to stop to graze again.

Bluebell was my last encounter with horses. I named my car Bluebell in her honor. That car earned that name, because she (it) always seemed to develop a problem — especially at the last minute — when I was about to go on a trip.

So much for my life with horses.

Mumford, of Warren, can be reached at donmumford@aol.com.


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