Chapter 8 - Part 3
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Loop Poetry Contest
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My Faith
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Halloween Poetry
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 Category:  Biographical Non-Fiction
  Posted: April 5, 2020      Views: 60

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Aussie is a wheel - chair person with a passion for poems and short stories about Australia. She likes to express herself through both mediums. She is an an artist who likes to paint in all mediums. Writing has become an outlet for her as she is ext - more...

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Blaze was our means of support in the fifties.
"Faithful Work Horse" by Aussie

Sydney 1955: I was ten years old. Dad had decided to get away to the country because of the polio epidemic sweeping the cities. He was offered a job looking after a vegetable farm in the country.Ploughing furrows, planting seeds and finally working with others to harvest the crops of barley and wheat. Caring for Blaze, the huge draft horse that came with the property. Dad had to support the four of us, work was scarce. After the war, he came home from four years of fighting in New Guinea. His work there entailed being a postal officer for the soldiers.

My sister and I had never been on a farm before. Mother was born with a silver spoon in her mouth (came from a wealthy family.) She failed to adapt to farm life; decided to spend time with the Landlord instead. She left us for a week, I was too young to understand why.

The ramshackle farmhouse was adequate for our needs, glad to have a roof over our heads. My sister was a stuck-up loner who had no time for me. I used to talk under concrete, probably still do! She never forgave dad for taking mum back after her time with the landlord.

From what I can remember all those years ago, I will try to relate to you; my childhood memories:

The day was bright with wispy white clouds overhead. Dad rose early so he could get Blaze ready for the ploughing. Boy, was he a big horse, I had never seen a horse so tall; in fact he was the first working horse I had set eyes on. He was nineteen hands tall and had feet as big as dinner plates!

Dad was no stranger to horses, he had worked for his family business before the War. Cart horses were used to carry second-hand hessian bags from industries using them for wheat, corn, barley and most other grains, including flour. Back in those days, there was no plastic bags, the hessian bags were given back empty to our business for mending instead.

I was bored and so I climbed up on the stool in the bathroom and painted the mirror with toothpaste. Mother was not impressed and quickly shoved me out the door to help with chores. My sister had already taken off to the farm next door, she was allowed to ride the mare they owned and sometimes she rode Blaze, when he wasn't working. The mare's saddle was too small for Blaze, she rode him bareback. Dawn was eighteen, confident with horses and I think lonely for young people her own age. There was nothing for her to do on the farm and so she was tetchy most of the time. Except when Blaze had been mated with a mare in season, three farms away. She was a working horse too. Beautiful just like Blaze.
Blaze's owner wanted a new colt to work the property. Of course I wasn't allowed to watch the going's on between the horses, wouldn't have understood anyway.

I wandered over to the barn where dad was working. Sharpening the plough and getting the harness ready for work.

"Daddy, why does Blaze stamp his feet at night time?"
"Well, he hasn't been looked after properly and needs to be shod. He has worms in his feet from being in the wet earth for so long." Dad had hold of his front hoof, resting between his knees.

"What's that pink stuff?" I was fascinated watching dad clean Blaze's hoof out and painting it with Condies Crystals.

"Just an antiseptic to keep the worms at bay until I can afford to have him shod."

Blaze was a placid stallion, kind in nature and he knew dad cared for him; unlike the previous owner. He would pull the plough all day with my Dad's steady hands.

"When can we have him shod? He keeps me awake stamping his feet."
"Oh, the farrier will shoe him next month." Dad put Blaze's hoof down and started on the next hoof. My dad was kindness itself, loved animals and I was his favorite daughter. Looking back to those days, my love of horses had begun.

After he had finished with Blaze's hooves, he untangled the harness and slipped the Pelham bit into his mouth. This type of bit was used for hard mouthed horses, which he wasn't. "Must get a softer bit for his mouth, maybe a snaffle," dad mused.

Finally after harnessing the big fellow to the plough, dad put the long reins around his neck. He needed both hands to steer the plough. I went and climbed up on the old, rusty tractor sitting in the sun. I was so proud of my father, I loved to watch him and Blaze at work.

"Now, don't spend too much time out in the sun," Dad squashed his old hat down on his head.

Little did I know that today would be the worst day of his life and the beginning of the end of his country days.

At once I spied a huge black snake rise from a furrow. Dad had not seen it because of Blaze blocking his line of sight.
I shouted in my childlike voice, "snake, snake!" He didn't hear me.
Blaze reared and bolted.

There was no way dad could pull him up and worse still, the long reins were caught around his neck. Blaze was pulling him through the furrows towards the barbed-wire, boundary fence.
Mum came running and we both watched in horror as dad was dragged through the fence.

Dad lay mangled by the barbed-wire as Blaze blew hard from galloping. The neighbors came and tried to untangle dad from the wire. He was bleeding profusely as his legs were tangled by the wire. The ambulance was called and dad spent a couple of weeks in hospital. He was badly scarred and had one-hundred and ninety stitches.

The Landlord wanted to shoot Blaze. My sister stood her ground (she was very tall) and told him it wasn't the horse's fault.
"Well, what are you going to do? Take over from your father and plough the land?" He smirked.

The rent was paid until the end of the month, we had some breathing space. While dad was recovering, we got a letter from the War Department to say we had been approved for a War Service Home. Blaze was retired to the farm where the small mare lived. The mare he had been mated with gave birth to a healthy colt.

Sam was a beautiful youngster, roan in colour with white socks and a blaze of white on his forehead. Unfortunately for him, he was doomed to the same work as his father.

After we left the farm, dad had a permanent limp and was badly scarred from the knees down.
He managed to go back to his family business as an industrial machinist, standing all day wasn't an option for him. We had a lovely brick home in the suburbs of Sydney, of course it wasn't the freedom of the country and no horses. Cars were the new way of life by then.

Sixty plus years ago these memories are still fresh for me. I went on to having a riding school and decided to start a branch of Riding for the Disabled. Horses are in my blood, God's majestic creatures.

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