The Miracle of the Big Grey Mare
Dad was always buying and selling draft horses as well as saddle horses, and we were supposed to break and train those he bought, to increase their value. The latest team of draft horses were two full sisters, one coal black; the other grey. Dad believed in simplicity in names so named them Blackie and Grey. They were 4 and 5 years old, respectively, weighed nearly 2000 pounds apiece and had never been harnessed. In addition to that, Grey had a mean streak and tried to crush you against the side of the stall whenever you entered. We carried a stick with one end sharpened to a point whenever we entered her stall, to place between her and the wall. It took a few weeks of pulling the heavy tillage equipment before it was safe to put them with an older horse as a team of two.
I was sure I could handle Grey if she was hitched alongside the big roan horse called Bess. I
hitched them to the two wheeled cultivator and started for the south forty to cultivate corn. I hoped to do a long, long day and wear that big horse down. I stopped in the lane on the way to the field to adjust a bolt, standing behind the seat. Both horses kept stepping forward then backward, so I grabbed the lines, gave a hard jerk, and yelled “Whoa”. Instead of “whoa” Grey jumped, and for some reason Bess jumped with her. They were off across the hay field with me pulling the lines as hard as I could. Soon they were going faster than I could run and I was dragged face down in the dirt for several yards before the lines slipped from my hands. As they approached the fence, they turned left and followed the wagon tracks. The fence was on their right and the open field on their left. They were following the wagon tracks down the lane in a full gallop and panic.
I was terrified, for at the end of that lane were three barbed wires, stretched across the lane for a gate. The way they were running they would not and could not, stop in time to avoid hitting the barbed wires. I had seen pictures of horses with flesh torn to shreds as they flailed in panic when entangled in barbed wire. Even a simple wire could sever a tendon. I started praying “Please God, not the barbed wire. Slow them. Stop them.” Suddenly their heads snapped to the left and both were thrown to the ground. I could not imagine how my prayer had been answered, until I reached the prostrate horses. The left line had flipped to the left, and slipped through the spoke of the cultivator wheel from the outside. The rapidly turning wheel had wrapped the line around the hub like a winch. At the speed they were traveling, the line tightened so quickly and with such force that it snapped their heads to the left and threw them both. Had it been the right line it would have thrown them into the fence. Was this
a miracle in answer to a prayer? What constitutes a miracle? Perhaps it is a one in 10 million chance of an event occurring, but it occurs at the precise essential moment. What was the probability that the left line and only the left line would somehow flip through the rapidly turning spokes from the outside and wrap around the hub?
I unbuckled the harness, and led Bess and Grey back to the barn. My scrapes from the dragging helped me convince Dad that I had not left them stand unattended, and that I had done everything possible to stop them. I wanted another chance to see those big horses properly trained, and to see how much they could really pull, but given all the trouble they had caused, they were on the way to the sale barn the next week! - Lowell Hill