Memories Best Forgot
A story from Chris Issacs reminded me of this story from an old friend named Jon Brakebill.
He was a farrier by trade, and a decent one it seems. He’d spent a lot of years at it and seen about all that one would expect. He described one of his more memorable experiences as a way of proving that he really had seen it all.
Said he’d shod horses for the public for pert near sixty years and he had seen a lot of peculiar sights and had shod some mighty rank horses over the years. But the toughest job he had ever had was when he got himself talked into tackling Fred Morgan’s old saddle horse named Ol’ Pete.
There was not a farrier in traveling distance that would touch that old outlaw, but Fred convinced Jon that this horse was not really bad but just was not handled properly by those scamps that called themselves farriers and had attempted to do this job in the past.
Now this old horse had the reputation of being bad to the core, but he could handle any job that Fred put him to, and Fred was partial to him. As horses go, he was not a pretty sight, but he was spirited and tough and cow smart.
Well, Jon had found times to be pretty tough and he needed the work, so he agreed to take this old pony on. He painted a visual picture of Ol’ Pete that made you just shake your head.
In fact, it put me in mind of a skin and bones West Texas tornado with a halter across its nose. Said he was quick to bite and even quicker to kick.
He would lay down on you then squall and jump back trying to snatch the lead rope out of your hand. He could literally fall to the ground and kick or strike you on the way down and be ready to sink a mouthful of teeth into whatever part of you that might be available.
Jon tried his full bag of tricks, using a twitch and strong doses of tranquilizing drugs, all of which Ol’ Pete was able to use to his advantage. Jon said that he could have shod a half dozen horses and a cantankerous old mule in the time it took him to get this job done.
The sun had gone down and it was coming on dark thirty before he finished, noting that his clothes was ripped and torn, his hat was creased beyond recognition, at least one rope was broke, and even the corral fence was wobbly.
Yet that beast, with a deadly cold stare in his eye, stood there as if he had accomplished a good day’s work.
Fred Morgan was pleased and offered to put Jon on regular, but Jon said that he curtly but politely declined.
Memories Best Forgot
In the beginning, God knew to make a man,
Stubborn with muscle an’ grit,
To like bad horses an’ stick to the plan,
With lotsa try an’ no quit.
That could spend hours in dust while the hot sun burns,
An’ the easy life to scorn,
Life is well known to take its twists and turns,
An’ so the Farrier was born.
An’ I found this life…or did it find me,
As the years pounded me down,
But I sure do like it, ‘cuz life is free,
I wear my rep like a crown!
Fred had called, ‘bout shoeing his favorite horse,
Now, I’d heard the horror stories,
But times was hard; I needed the work of course,
Tough comes with the territories.
Fred had said this horse was not atall bad,
Other shoers just weren’t that good,
After that story, I knew I’d been had,
But there, tied to the gate, he stood.
Sometimes a feller should just walk away,
‘Cuz your instinct will tell you,
But your ego stands tall and will not sway,
Trouble will be yours to do.
I’d shoed horses for pert near sixty year
But I stood there, dreadin’ to start,
Ol’ Pete’s reputation made grown men fear,
Now, I was the last resort.
Ol’ Pete was u-necked with a long lower jaw
He had a lump on his head,
Why, everywhere you looked, you found a flaw
“A bad’un” the old folk said.
‘Course he was sway backed with a bad attitude,
An’ a surly look in his eye,
I guess life had treated him purty rude,
Not much you could rectify.
He had the reputation of an outlaw,
Just the kind Fred liked to ride,
Said, “If they don’t buck, they won’t come to taw!”
Ol’ Pete musta brought him pride.
I moved around him slow, rubbin’ an’ petting ‘em right,
The right side was not too bad,
But near his left shoulder, I felt his teeth bite,
At my rear pocket where I kept my pad.
Well, I tried tape an’ a twitch to no avail,
Then tied up his off hind foot,
Well, he squalled an’ farted an’ down he fell,
Looks like these plans went kaput.
There are other things to do an’ I tried ‘em all,
Includin’ addin’ a side line,
He humped and kicked an’ sometimes he would fall,
My rep was now in decline.
I eared him down an’ strapped his leg up tight,
With that I got one shoe nailed,
But he warn’t through an’ continued to fight,
Seems my best efforts had failed.
The sun has went down an’ it’s comin’ on dark,
Only got one foot done you see,
I’m wore out an’ he’s happy as a lark,
But tomorrow, we’ll get the other three!
© Ol’ Jim Cathey
God Bless those old time horse shoers and God Bless America!