Dudley and Viking

Dudley and Viking, two ranch horses from Montana had been shipped to the farm and were being held for their owners. In the view of some these were nags that would have been sent to the glue factory or rendering plant. Of course many horses destined for this fate actually found themselves targeted for the European market for horse flesh. Be that as it may, Dudley and Viking although they appeared to be pretty much broken down and worn out, were actually pretty good jumpers. As a pair, they were accustomed to being together, and one day when one was removed from the corral to be ridden, Dudley, took it upon himself to go along as well. Although the corral was only twenty five feet square, he was able to build up enough momentum to clear the top rail with ease. And then being free, he raced up the hill to where his companion had gone. Viking, was tied to the telephone pole next to the drive with the good manila lariat, while the saddle and bridle were removed from the storehouse, so when Dudley came charging up the hill, Viking forgot his manners, if he had any, and decided to go along. That rope was the only problem, and it was only after he reached the end of it did he sense that he was expected to stay. Looking back toward where Dudley was at play, revealed an awesome sight. The telephone pole and the power lines for a good quarter mile were in motion. Those aluminum cables that carry the electricity swayed in the air in a way that not even a hurricane or tornado could have inspired. The pole shook, and perhaps because of the shock, Viking reversed track and went in the opposite direction. Now instead of some twenty feet of rope in play, he had the equvalent of forty as he ran past the quaking pole. At the end of his rope, so to speak, he came to an abrupt halt, at least his head and neck did, but the rest of the horse continued momentarily in direction in which he had been pointed. All four feet came off the ground and he turned in mid air facing back toward the house. What was amazing was that he maintained his footing and didn’t fall, instead making a perfect pirouette and coming to a complete stop. Where he stood at the lariats end. The miracle of it all is that the rope did not bread, the pole didn’t come unrooted, the power lines didn’t snap or bang together shutting off the electricity and that Dudley’s neck remained intact. Viking in the meantime, continued on his way to the back of the pasture, mindless that he had been the cause of any disturbance.

Dudley was bridled and saddled and ridden to drive in the cows that were grazing in a cotton field across the road. Then returning to the house, the bridle and saddle were removed and he was given a sharp slap on the rump and sent to rejoin Viking under the persimmon trees. Which is where Henrietta enters the story.

In the draw below the house, the horses like to stand in the persimmon grove, nose to tail, swatting flies with their tails. Sometimes they will stand on three legs with the forth just barely touching the ground and other times they would give a unenthusiastic kick as if to ward off heal flies. Henrietta also likes to visit this area as the ripening persimmons on the ground often attracted small rodents which were a welcome addition to the commercial cat food that was offered. She was seen approaching Viking, who paid her not the least attention. At his left front leg, she stopped and then stretching herself to her greatest length, she began to scratch on his leg as if it were a fence post or some valuable piece of furniture. You can be sure that her claws were fully extended as she worked the leg for a couple of minutes until she must have judged the claws to be of the proper sharpness. Then she did a most amazing thing. She crouched and with a bound propelled herself up the shoulder of the horse, using those now sharp claws to bite into the horsehide to give her purchase and deliver her to his back. There on his broad back she stood. The horse moved not at all. And having the advantage of her viewing place, Henrietta looked about and then jumped down. Neither horse moved a muscle and Henrietta disappeared into the woods.

The horses continued to swat flies with their tails.

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