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Prairie Schooner 80.2 (2006) 148-150

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Hard Evidence

Hard Evidence

For the most part people don't
want to be told the truth.

The woman who called us on Elka, the three year old,
said she wanted something quiet, something
she could learn on. That mare's been under saddle
just a couple months but she's a solid citizen.
It seemed worth the woman's time to look.

Before she and her husband even got the car
to a full stop, they'd gotten an eyeful
of Fyfe-n-Drum, the two-year-old colt
tearing up the paddock, tail flagged over his back,
nine hundred pounds
of gleaming testosterone on the hoof.

Oh, we got her on the young mare
and she slopped around in the saddle
as we'd pictured she would, Elka packing
her around placidly like the saint she is but
all the woman could think about
was that colt. The stallion.

Drummie was for sale alright but we could see
they were greener than fresh paint and would be
in trouble with him in no time so we told them
he wasn't for sale to them.
Some folks are hard to help.
After the "no" on the colt,
they left in a huff, gravel sizzling out
from under their tires as they pulled onto the road. [End Page 148]

No more than a month went by and
we ran into them at an auction. She
kind of nodded at us and turned away
to study her catalog. After the hammer fell
on the last lot she made a point of coming up to me.
Did you see the horse I bought? she asked
in a tone that said, guess that shows you.

Which horse? I asked. Sixty-seven. Yes,
triumphant was the tone. Sixty-seven
was a two-year-old stallion, sired by a horse
more famous than our colt's daddy, bred by
a farm with a name more famous than our name
and she'd paid one quarter what we were asking
for our guy. Least that's how she was looking at it.

Showtime is a well-know sire, I agreed,
then slipped in, Did you notice how
the handler had the chain shank run through
the colt's mouth to lead him? The look on her face
told me she was an auctioneer's dream.
She'd been the opening bid. And the closing bid.
Other people there knew more about Showtime babies
than she did. Showtime babies could be gems.
Or they could be black holes.
Unpredictable, unstable, untrainable,
Wasn't anybody there looking to bid against her.
The auctioneer hadn't missed that chain through the mouth.
He dropped the hammer and cleared that colt
on out of the sale ring while the handler still had a hold of him.

Soft-bodied beings like us humans sometimes think
a thousand pound horse tipped with rock-hard hooves
is formidable-looking but in their own world
horses are known to predators as delectable herbivores,
granola-munching hippies in a fanged and taloned world. [End Page 149]
For horses, the primary rule of survival is:
run first, ask questions later. It's useful
to understand this about horses if
you're going to style yourself as a horse trainer.

When that woman called us next
the one thing we could give her credit for
was that it had taken nerve to climb on
with her even-more-clueless husband
holding the bridle. Not much know-how,
but nerve. A horse that is being held
so he can't go forward, can't go back,
has one other option which not unexpectedly
their auction stallion opted to go for.
When he got to Hi, ho, Silver height
the unfamiliar weight of a rider on his back
threw off his balance so now he was in
a freefall in the direction of the weight,
up and over till he sprawled flat on his back,
with the woman beneath him.

This isn't the kind of incident you come out of
unscathed. Her good luck was that...


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pp. 148-150
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