Appalachia Appalachian Writers

Blaze A Horse

Today’s guest post was written by Wayne Newton.

horse

 

Blaze A Horse

I don’t remember how old I was when Papa bought Blaze, probably 10 or 11. I do remember the truck backing up to the ditch-bank near the barn, and me running like crazy when I saw her head above the sides of the stake-body. She was just about the prettiest thing I had ever seen! This was before I discovered girls.

She was so frisky and shiny, and fat, and just the right size for a boy like me. She stood about 14 ½ hands, and she was a perfect bay color. I will never forget the smell of her. Completely unlike the barn full of mules I was used to. Her smell was an Aroma, like fresh straw, and sweet feed, and the best of hay. To this day, I still can be mesmerized by the sweet smell of a horse. I have owned many horses since then, but there was never another like Blaze; unless it was Tar Baby. That’s another story, for another time.

Papa tried to temper my excitement by claiming that she was a “plow horse”, but he did admit that she “might be rode”; the best of both worlds!! I couldn’t wait to get up on her.

Papa put me aboard, as he led her to the barn, with me hugging her neck as we went. I hadn’t even noticed that the truck also held her plow harness, and a saddle and blanket.

It wasn’t long before Papa hitched Blaze to a plow, and took her to the corn-field. It was time to lay-by the corn, and it was a lesson for Papa, in the difference between a “plow horse”, and a “plow mule”. With Dinah, or Kate, or Vic, or Mink, all mules, they would start out the day, plodding up and down the rows, never changing their gait; that’s the way of a mule. It was another thing altogether, with Blaze; she started off at a brisk pace, but instead of slowing down, or at least staying the same, the longer she plowed, the faster she went! By dinner time (12 o’clock), she was just about in a run, and Papa was hanging on for dear life, and begging her to slow down. She couldn’t be slowed.

I remember, once, taking a jar of water to the field where Papa was plowing with Blaze. Now, not many things were more desirable to a plowman than a fresh jar of cold well water, so we carried it to wherever he was in the field. Long before I found Papa, I found where he was, by the noise that Blaze made. She was like a steam engine, huffing, and blowing and chewing as she came down the row of corn. She had the ability to throw her head to the side, bite the top out of a stalk of corn, and eat it as she went, never missing a step.

I remember another time, when we were gathering tobacco. Blaze was pulling sleds of tobacco from the fields to the barn. At the barn, the loaded box was set-off of the sled, and an empty box was placed on for the return trip to the fields. There were always two or more animals involved in the tobacco gathering. Blaze was just the same with a sled as she was with a plow. The longer she pulled, the faster she went, until she was almost in a trot.

We were gathering tobacco the day after a windstorm had come across the farm. Unbeknownst to us the wind had blown a piece of tin roofing off of the barn, and into the edge of the field by the fence. As I turned Blaze into the tobacco barn yard, we met another mule and sled just leaving, and were forced to go to the left as we met. I saw the piece of tin too late to do anything but shout, and try to stop Blaze, as she charged for the barn.

Blaze walked straight across the tin, and the next instant the front of the sled runner caught the edge of the tin, and it was driven against the hock of her back leg. She bolted, straight up, and forward, headed for the tobacco barn. The box of tobacco, just dropped was where Blaze decided to go, and suddenly there were two boxes of tobacco, one on top of the other. As she sideswiped the barn, she destroyed the sled itself, and then headed for the pen at the mule barn. Papa could be pretty unforgiving at times. Not only had I injured his sled puller, destroyed a sled, and two boxes of tobacco, I had proven that a boy my age couldn’t be depended on to do anything right. His blinders prevented him from seeing that if only he had removed the piece of tin when he saw it first thing that morning, none of this would have happened.

Thankfully, though, Blaze wasn’t seriously injured, most of the tobacco was usable, the sleds and boxes were reparable, and the earth continued in its orbit for another day. After that incident, though, Papa was careful what job he gave Blaze to do. Glory! That meant she was available for me to ride, anytime I wasn’t in the field, or at the pack house.

Another memory of Blaze: she was just right for a young teenage boy to go-a-courtin on; which meant, we sat on her (Carolyn’s) front porch, and held hands, until Aunt Ethel made me go home.

———————–

Makes me wish I had a horse named Blaze. Hope you enjoyed Wayne’s post as much as I did-leave him a comment and I’ll make sure he reads it.

Tipper

 

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20 Comments

  • Reply
    Elizabeth
    April 5, 2014 at 11:41 am

    Great story Wayne!
    Reminds me of my mothers horse Magic, she would plow, and plow fast, but when she was done workin she was done ! Why she’d lay down as if she’d been shot, and not get up until you unhooked her from the plow. She was a good one, and produced some beautiful foals too. They learned the same work as she did, but didn’t know all of her tricks.

  • Reply
    Dee from Tennessee
    February 7, 2011 at 4:30 am

    GREAT story-telling! And the water jug brought back memories for me too. Just a great story – you’ve got a “good voice.”

  • Reply
    kat magendie
    February 6, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    oh! I LOVE THIS!
    I’ve wanted a horse since I was a girl, but I don’t think it’ll ever happen … dang. I have to give my character a horse to ride.
    I thought this post was going to end sad – I was squinting one eye as I read – and Yay! It didn’t end sad!
    *smiling*

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    February 6, 2011 at 9:07 am

    Thank you Wayne, that was a wonderful story and very well written. There is nothing like a boy and his dog or horse. They are made for each other.
    When I was young I wanted a horse so very much. I loved horses, I played horses, and dreamed horses.
    It just wasn’t to be. Though my family roots are in the country we lived in several different towns during my early years as my dad worked for several different companies.
    That didn’t stop me from longing for a horse of my own.
    I have to tell you, Wayne, when Blaze was injured I never would have forgiven you if it had turned out bad….Not that I blamed you for the injury but for telling the story that broke my heart!
    Thanks again, good job.

  • Reply
    kat
    February 6, 2011 at 8:48 am

    Enjoyed reading Wayne’s story.

  • Reply
    Vicki Lane
    February 6, 2011 at 12:00 am

    Another good un!

  • Reply
    SandyCarlson (USA)
    February 5, 2011 at 11:37 pm

    I enjoyed that very much.

  • Reply
    Paul
    February 5, 2011 at 11:13 pm

    Great story! The water also caught my attention. My Grandpa used to put a well rinsed Clorox jug in the freezer about a third full of water. The next morning, he would top it off and wrap it in a brown paper bag before heading to the field. Unlike today’s cab tractors, the old tractors or teams had no place for a water jug. It was always left in the shade of the grass by a fence post. I always watched the post and wondered if we’d stop when we reached it, or make another round.

  • Reply
    Glenda Beall
    February 5, 2011 at 9:59 pm

    I enjoyed the story of Blaze. I had a similar experience with a horse named Daisy. She was a plow horse during the week, but my riding horse on the weekend. She was wide as she was long and stubborn enough to discourage two little girls when we wanted to ride her.
    Good story with lots of action and Wayne made the scenes come alive with his description. Tugged at our hearts, had tension, and we were all relieved when Blaze wasn’t hurt.
    Thank you, Tipper.

  • Reply
    Ken
    February 5, 2011 at 9:04 pm

    Tipper,
    I’m kinda like Bradley on how you
    keep coming up with such interesting writers. Nicely done,
    Wayne, I really enjoyed this story
    of your horse, Blaze. Like Tipper,
    you seem to have great writing skills too and enjoy it. Thank you
    …Ken

  • Reply
    Janet
    February 5, 2011 at 5:39 pm

    I enjoyed the story about a boy and his horse. I, too, am glad Blaze didn’t get hurt too bad.

  • Reply
    Sheila Bergeron
    February 5, 2011 at 11:37 am

    This is a beautiful story- just loved it.

  • Reply
    Wanda
    February 5, 2011 at 11:25 am

    I also remember the water jug wrapped in newspaper. I think we had four metal ice trays with the pull handles. (Our fridge was bought with moonshine & bootlegging money as was the wringer washer on the back porch) Anyway all four trays of ice went into the jug & it was cold for a while. Always seemed to have a funny taste after it got warn.
    I’m from west Tn & it was cotton fields for us. Daddy plowed with Grandpa’s mules–Kate & Jack & an old Allis Chalmers (sp) tractor. I’m the last generation to pull the cotton sack. Some of those bottom rows it took all day to pick!

  • Reply
    Becky
    February 5, 2011 at 11:11 am

    I did love this post. I could see it all as it happened.
    Sounds like Blaze got a little more bored with each step he took and was hurrying to get the job done. Smart horse!

  • Reply
    Nancy
    February 5, 2011 at 9:30 am

    I can’t imagine what it would be like to have had a horse at the age of 10 or 11 — but Wayne managed to help me understand what a treasure Blaze was to him growing up.
    Love this story, Wayne. Well told. 🙂

  • Reply
    mamabug
    February 5, 2011 at 8:19 am

    Wayne’s stories are great; I’ve been following his blog for a while now.

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    February 5, 2011 at 8:17 am

    Tipper,
    Great story Wayne…
    I am so glad that Blaze lived to work another day, and you could ride her a’courtin’. I can just see those tobacco sleds…Gosh, they were heavy themselves and then on top of that loaded with tobacco. It makes me wonder what kept Blaze going so long still increasing her pace as the work wore on and apparently not tiring…Most animals (especially mules) by the end of the day would start to ‘stub up’and be getting slower and tired. My Grandparents always used Mules..I longed to go there and see horses..but naught..
    Thanks Tipper, and Wayne for sharing..

  • Reply
    Bradley
    February 5, 2011 at 7:47 am

    He really had me going when he told about the accident. I was like Sandra and I thought Oh no, now my day is going to be spoiled if that horse has to be put down!
    Well that is what good writing does; It snares your imagination, pulls you in, awakens all kinds of emotions, makes want you to continue reading.
    Where do you find these people Tipper? All that talent almost causes me to be envious.
    Loved this story!
    Bradley

  • Reply
    Ed
    February 5, 2011 at 7:43 am

    Your “jar of water” jogged my memory. My grandpa loved to send my sister and me from the fields to the house to fetch him a jar of water. His jar was a gallon jar, and he insisted that we put a tray of ice in it before filling it with water. We then put the gallon jar into a 5 gallon bucket that was lined with newspaper to protect and insulate the jar. I carried that bucket and jar back and forth from the fields to the house lots of times as a young kid.

  • Reply
    Sandra
    February 5, 2011 at 6:35 am

    a wonderful story. i am so glad blaze was not hurt, when you started to tell that part i was afraid she was going to be injured and put down. i like stories with a happy ending. this one is great.

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