Entangled horses created ‘unholy mess’

From our January 2014 issue

By Victor Smider – Gibsons, B.C.

How many people are still around who can remember July 5, 1937 when Canada’s all-time high, and still unbroken temperature of 113°F (45°C) was recorded in the little community of Yellow Grass, Sk. some 50 miles southeast of Regina?

I was 12 at the time and our family lived on a farm in Grove Park, near the south bank of the Qu’Appelle River, some 100 miles northeast of Yellow Grass.

My recollection of that eventful day pertains to horses. Our family didn’t own a thermometer but we knew that things were getting pretty hot as the day progressed.

My older brother, Sid, was out in the field with a 4-horse team doing some disking or summer fallowing.

About 11 o’clock, things got too hot for man and beast so Sid decided to leave the field to get some water for the panting horses.

When he arrived at the farmyard, before he could unhitch and unharness the normally docile horses, they took off—farm equipment and all—to gain some shelter from the hot sun.

They bolted into a bushy area near the barn that was full of poplar trees, scrub oaks, willows, and chokecherries.

We then had to unharness the four horses entangled within all those bushes. What an unholy mess this created!

By late afternoon, most of the tree leaves and bushes had turned limp and shrivelled up. I don’t recall what happened to mother’s vegetable garden, but I’m certain the hot weather had a big influence on why my parents held an auction sale in October.

Soon after, all 11 of us, in a 1931 Chevrolet and pulling a home-built sleeping trailer, left Grove Park and travelled more than 1,500 miles, ending up in downtown Toronto.

What great memories!

The Smider brothers (left) Sid, George, Ferdy, and Mike, on their normally docile mounts near the barn in 1930.