Galloping team crashed through gates

From our March 2014 issue

By Nellie Marchuk – Chilliwack, B.C.

I recall this incident so clearly in my mind just as if it happened the other day. I was in my teens at that time and I am now 90.  It was supposed to be a fun event but unfortunately did not end that way.

Every year in the fall mom and dad would load up a wagon with bags of wheat, oats, and barley and take it to Yorkton, Sask. It would be a long journey, approximately 24 miles away. Two heavy and strong horses were to be chosen to do the job. The decision was made that it would be Frank and Jack this time.

Frank was a quiet horse, whereas Jack was just the opposite. You had to be very careful especially when going between the two in the stall. Jack would always curl up his big lip and was ready to nip at you.

Frank and Jack ready to pull the sleigh.

The journey there and back was very tiring and I remember how tired mom was when they got home. After unloading the goodies–such as flour, sugar, rolled oats, and apples–mom cut up an apple and gave each one of us a piece, a special treat.

Then mom suggested that while the horses were still harnessed someone should pick up the potatoes from the garden that had been dug, dried, and put in bags. It was a good idea but not so much for the horses.

They were hitched to a dray wagon and my younger sister, Margie, and I volunteered to do the job and how excited we were to do it. I was in control of the reins and no sooner were we on our way the horses started to run faster and faster and then into a gallop. I knew right then that we had a runaway and were in trouble.

I told Margie to slide off the dray wagon. She asked me what I would do and I said that I’d do the same, which we did. The horses kept on running, went through one gate, crossed the main road and then through another gate.

My brother-in-law who happened to be on the yard saw the horses run towards him, he started to wave his arms to stop them and fortunately he was able to do that.

He held them until we caught up to him, got back on the wagon and carried on our journey. We picked up the potatoes and came home with no further problems.

Mom asked us where we’d been all that time. Well, we had a long story to tell them! They were happy to see us safe and sound.

To this day, we don’t know why the horses played such a dirty trick on us and the only conclusion was that the horses were so upset after doing a big job by having to go into town and then asked to do yet another job, which didn’t make them happy.

To me, that makes very good ‘horse sense’.