OLD TIMERS SEE BADGER BASHED!
By Norris Chambers
had access to two saddle horses, old Alec and Min. These saddle horses were not
exactly like the fancy ponies the daring cowboys rode in the movies, but they
were dependable and usually managed to take us where we waned to go. Some of
the old timers said. “Riding a horse is not much but it beats walking.” Clifton
and I rode horses frequently because we thought it was fun and we enjoyed it.
Clifton was about twelve years old when his
dad bought a horse for him. The horse was presented in exchange for a promise
by Clifton to
quit smoking. Clifton
readily agreed and he was soon the proud owner of a young, spirited pony.
One of the first things to be done
when a new horse appeared on the place was to provide it with a suitable name.
An unnamed saddle horse was unheard of in the late twenties. After considerable
thinking, cogitation and careful consideration the name “Cougar” was chosen.
My nephew, Clifton, lived about four miles from our
place as the crow flies. The winding road increased the distance to about six
was the oldest of five brothers. They lived on a sandy land farm about a mile
from the little town where my brother operated a service station and garage.
The family did not farm the land on a large scale but cultivated a large garden
every year. They also kept two or three cows to provide plenty of milk and
mother helped in the service station and the older boys took good care of the
Clifton and Cougar visited us almost every
day. Sometimes Clifton’s brother, Clyde, was riding behind the saddle. He gripped the
leather straps on each side as Cougar showed his speed and ditch-jumping
ability. Clyde was about two years younger than Clifton and already he considered himself a
good horseman. The brother just younger than Clyde,
Carl, was also acquiring considerable skill in the art of horsemanship!
Cougar had not been in the family
long when Clyde was presented a horse as a
birthday gift. This horse was older than Cougar and was considerably slower. He
was gentle and dependable and we were all waiting to hear what Clyde would name him. It was a short waiting period. His
name was to be “Badger”.
Badger was a safe and dependable
saddle horse and along with the other horses was required to perform his duty
as a farm work animal.
We had a project underway in our
sandy north forty. A levy needed some repair and my dad harnessed Badger,
Stranger and Alec and hitched them to our fresno.
A fresno is a
dirt moving metal box about four feet wide with a sharp blade on the front
bottom. A long handle on the back allows the operator to tilt the box forward
and fill it with dirt. It can then be dragged to an area where the dirt is
needed and when the rear lever is raised the dirt is dumped and the box returns
empty for another load. Three horses were required to pull this dirt mover. Clifton, Clyde and I followed the fresno around and examined the different
worms and underground wildlife that it unearthed as it scooped up the dirt.
The project was progressing
normally when suddenly a large “spreading adder” snake arose in front of the
horses and began hissing so loudly that we could hear it several feet away. A
spreading adder, although non-poisonous and considered harmless, is very
belligerent and by using its imitation of a cobra can scare just about any
creature. The fresno
team reacted quickly and each horse tried to run in a different direction. The
harness restrained them and as they pulled against each other they became
frightened and began jumping and kicking. This wild panic seemed to continue
for an eternity as the horses attempted to break away from the fresno.
Eventually the team managed to
separate and run toward the other side of the field. But Badger was limping
badly and was lagging far behind Alec and Stranger. He quit running and turned
around, looking at us as we ran toward him. Clyde
was the first to reach the injured horse.
When we got there he was examining Badger’s left rear leg.
There was a deep cut just above the hoof and it was bleeding profusely. When he
attempted to walk the foot dangled helplessly and he tried to walk on three
legs. It was evident that he had kicked the blade of the fresno and seriously injured his leg.
It was the
decision of the elders that the leg could not be healed and that poor old
Badger would have to be killed. We were all sad to hear the verdict and tears
were shed as the execution was performed.
Was there any fun in this tragedy?
There might have been a little when we found the spreading adder that caused
the trouble. The snake had been tromped into the dirt and torn apart so
severely that it couldn’t even have been used as a jig saw puzzle!