The Farm Chronicles: The horse that could read

It was a crisp Ohio autumn afternoon. The kind of weather where you have to decide whether to go in shirt sleeves or wear a sweatshirt. The sun was warming the earth, but was soon to dip low in the sky bringing with it the gradual chilling of the night air. I decided to go for a ride. Over my pre-teen and teen years, Dad and I figured that we had sold about 300 horses through our small farm, mostly to 4-H kids. My part was riding the horses, finishing them up, training them so they would be safe and a pleasure to whoever bought them. We had a lifetime money back guarantee, which to my knowledge was never used. This afternoon, I decided to take Jack, an Appaloosa gelding we bought out west, for a ride.

Jack was a horse with a great tender disposition, but rather awkward moving. I wanted to walk and trot him along the road to help him get collected, just some gentle training. It was an enjoyable ride about three miles down the road past the neighboring farms and into a narrow back country road with trees on both sides blocking the setting sun. I kind of lost track of the time and it was getting later than I thought when we came to a patch where the open sky revealed just how late it really was. We turned around and started to head back to the farm. This stretch of Gilbert Road was relatively flat so I nudged Jack into a trot. His gangly legs were moving along pretty well, plus horses always go faster when they knew they were heading back to the barn. Jack was no exception. He instinctively knew the way home and he was going there.

We trotted up a short hill and made our turn on to McClintocksburg Road. Now the asphalt on this road was different. It was the type that when it got cool, the road seemed to contract into a slippery, shiny surface. Slowing down to a fast walk—remember the horse knew we were headed home and that meant getting fed—we dipped down with the road between Hawley Cemetery and the Suzelis farm and started up the small grade near the cemetery entrance. Suddenly, Jack’s legs went out from under him and down we went. The last thing I remember was seeing a car coming right at me. Somehow, instinctively, I rolled into the ditch. When I woke up there was an older man and woman holding me alongside the road, asking me if I was all right. “Yes, I’m OK,” I lied.

They asked if they could take me home. I told them I would go ahead and walk. After their protests and my stubbornness, they gave in. I looked up and thought I saw Jack standing at the stop sign about 30 yards away. Sure enough there he stood, head lowered, waiting, as if he read the sign and was obeying the law. I pulled myself into the saddle and the horse took me home. I slid down Jack and passed out in the back yard. Mom found me and was hysterical, but she got me into the house and called for Doc Owen to come quickly. He said I had a bad concussion. He said it was a good thing Jack stopped for me or I would be laying in a ditch somewhere. Psalm 20:7 says, “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; But we will remember the name of the LORD our God.” AND sometimes both horses and the Lord work to save kids that fall in a ditch.

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Bill Wilson