In A Pickle  

Don't sleep with your horse

By Wild Bill Martin-Ock
(As told to Doreen Zyderveld-Hagel}

The horse blasted through the tough canvas material like it was a paper bag, leaving a gaping hole in the shape of his outline — just like you'd see in a Bugs Bunny cartoon.

It should have been funny, but it really wasn't.

Seconds earlier, the gelding, Sparky, had awakened from a nice, warm sleep in the cozy tent. It sure beat the -30c blizzard conditions outside. He lazily got up from the ground, front legs first, bumping his head on the side of the tent.

That’s when things got really crazy.

The horse flung his head around like a giraffe, whacking the centre pole, and then the tent came crashing down around us. The terrified beast instinctively kicked out with his back hooves, and knocked over the wood stove.

By this time, we helpless men lay there staring in disbelief, trapped in our sleeping bags on our cots. During the ensuing chaos, some men shrieked, others cussed, while a few begged for divine intervention.

Those flailing hooves, bearing 1,000 pounds of fury, were projectiles, which we hoped desperately, to avoid. One hoof packs a deadly wallop, one ton of force per square inch of hoof.

The horse wasn't aiming to hurt anyone; as he was just stampeding around, scared spit-less.

I heard a shrill scream, like that of a little girl, and feared the worst, then realized that scream was mine. We all flopped around in our bags like seals on a crowded beach.

Miraculously, no one was trampled, kicked or injured, and that wood stove was cold by then, but the ashes from it covered everything.

I do believe The Man Upstairs was listening to our cries for help, no coincidence there. Nonetheless, my hunting buddies were unimpressed, and sure were mad at me.

"You dumb blankety blank, we told you not to bring your horse into the tent for the night," they yelled.

My ego was bruised.

I was sure Sparky would have been well behaved, as he followed me like a dog into the tent the previous night. Sparky was grateful to be in from the cold, while his equine companions whinnied and stomped their feet jealously outside; in the blowing snow and howling, icy wind.

It was late November of 1980 in the Alberta foothills. My horse then shook the snow from his back, nudged me with his muzzle, and lay down, folded up his legs, and slept like a baby.

All was well until all hell broke loose in the morning, when the baby awoke, and temporarily lost his mind.

I should have known that the strangest things will spook a horse, even the sound of his own flatulence.

No harm, no foul though. Hence I was left behind to fix the tent, with threats upon my life, I might add. Thereafter, I found a couple of tarps; duct tape and bailer twine to patch up the tattered mess.

The Red Green stars would have been proud of the job I did.

After accomplishing that task, I parked the trucks, nose to nose at the mended end of the tent, which would provide a buffer from the wind on that weakened spot.

Livestock panels provided a small corral for the horses, while a tarp covered the top of it to give them some protection from the elements.

When I was finally satisfied with my makeshift repairs to our rustic tent, a remorseful Sparky and I headed out alone to hunt.

I bagged a moose two miles away from our camp, and it dressed out at 250 pounds. I had it hanging back at our camp in the early afternoon when the guys came back.

They were sheepish and empty handed. Hence we were all thankful for the moose liver and beans we had for supper that night.

Later on however, we experienced a rather chilly night’s sleep, due to the draft from the cold air and snow particles blowing in through the cracks in the renovations.

The experience would have been a real hit for a Reality TV survival show, nowadays. However, nobody had a camcorder back then, nor did we even think to bring a Polaroid camera.

We were just glad to survive the ordeal unscathed, and got the last laugh at Old Man Winter's efforts to freeze our sorry hides.

Another life lesson learned, this time in Tenting 101. Don’t share your tent with a horse.

Doreen Zyderveld-Hagel is self described as being a somewhat eccentric humorist writer.  Doreen got her writing style and inspiration from the late Erma Bombeck who is reputed to have said, "There is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humour and hurt."

More In A Pickle articles

About the Author

Doreen Zyderveld-Hagel writes about the humour in every-day life, and gets much of her inspiration from the late Erma Bombeck’s writing style. 

Doreen also has a serious side, shares her views on current events, human-interest stories and sometimes the downright bizarre. 

She can be reached at [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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