Horseshoes in the Dust

18 Mar


Dusty harnesses, stiff as cardboard, hung from hooks in the back of the shed.  Collars, tugs, backbands and breeching retained their crumpled shape if I lifted them from the hooks.  Once I attempted to clean and soften an ancient bridle, to no avail.

Horseshoes lined the crossbeam over the woodpile and turned up in the dust on the shed’s floor and sometimes elsewhere around the farm.  Our farm hadn’t seen horses since the late 1940s when grandpa got his first tractor.

I liked one set of shoes in particular.  They were pony-sized, and I only found three.  I visualized the pony who had worn them and made up stories about her, since my dad didn’t want to talk about horses.  Later he mentioned their beautiful, perfectly-matched team sent to slaughter because there was no market for horses after tractors came in.

I didn’t learn to drive a horse until four years ago.  I didn’t find anyone to teach me until then.  But it was a lifelong dream, started by the harnesses hung from the walls behind the tractors.

My biggest trouble learning to drive was that I was a Western rider.  The horses I rode all neck reined.

When driving, all you have are your reins and voice.  And your whip. That was hard for me to fathom and took rewiring my brain.

I love driving every bit as much as I hoped.  I don’t know if the harnesses and horseshoes are still back in the old shed in Wisconsin.  Maybe the new owners threw them out.  But I am sure horseshoes will still turn up in the dust if someone goes looking for them.


2 Responses to “Horseshoes in the Dust”

  1. wefarm March 18, 2013 at 9:23 am #

    I live on a farm in Wisconsin and my husband occasionally finds old rusty horse shoes in the fields after he’s plowed. They’re all huge, having been worn by big draft horses. We have many lucky horse shoes hanging in barns and sheds… hanging properly so their luck doesn’t fall out, of course 🙂

    • A New Path March 18, 2013 at 10:00 am #

      Very cool. Those vestiges of the past bring some good luck. I turned the ones I found upright, too. My family had medium sized horses (going by shoe size)- I think they doubled as transportation to town pulling a wagon. Our farm was in the Kettle Moraine of Eastern WI. I still miss the beautiful countryside.

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