Horse team had father fixing many harnesses

From our January 2012 issue

By Myrtle (Orsen) Matthews – Sedgewick, Alta.

In growing up on our farm in Sunny Valley district of Saskatchewan, the farm horses were a big part of our lives. Bing and Bang were our dad’s pride and joy. They were brothers, Clydesdale and of Hambletonian, dad said.

He raised them from colts. Bang was gentle and quiet, easy to ride and handle.

Dad made a bit of twisted No. 9 wire for his bridle so Bang couldn’t get it between his teeth. If he did, you couldn’t hold him. He liked to run and pull. He was gentle with us kids when we went to feed him.

Bing was a different story. He was a year younger and bigger than Bang.

He liked to show off and wouldn’t hesitate to nip or strike with his front feet, but he didn’t kick when being hooked up. If you rode him, he liked to trot stiff-legged so he wasn’t pleasant to ride.

Grabbed by pant leg

Once when I got on him just outside the barn door to go for the cows, he grabbed me by the pant leg and pulled me off. He had tried this once before and didn’t reach me.

Bing and Bang were bays with white stockings and white blazes on their foreheads.

They loved to pull and wouldn’t stop when dad gave them the command to start, until something on the harness gave or some part of what they were pulling did. Dad repaired a lot of harnesses.

They were trained to stand when the lines were dropped to the ground and not move until they were picked up.

One time dad pulled up to the doorstep with the sleigh box full of groceries he had brought from town. He dropped the lines, unloaded the sleigh, and took the groceries into the house.

A gust of wind moved the lines and away they went, sleigh box and all, down the hill to the barn, running over the buggy and flattening it.

The barn door was open about a foot. They tried to go through it and couldn’t. They did a job on the door and their harness but didn’t wreck the sleigh box, just the buggy.

Enjoyed showing them off

They waited patiently for dad to come. More repairs had to be made. They were strong workhorses with a lot of stamina and speed.

When I was 12, I learned to drive them on a 14-foot hay rake. My job was to rake the hay in sloughs into windrows and bunch it so the ‘sweep’ could pick it up for loading on the rack.

I did this until I moved to Saskatoon to go to business college. I loved the work.

Dad enjoyed showing off Bing and Bang in the local parade, brushing them until they shone, with manes and tails braided.

After he talked to them in the barn, they’d be hitched to whatever they were pulling, with heads up high, necks arched, tails up, showing off – especially Bing. They were handsome.