The Shoeless Horse: Episode 3

The Name Game & Two with Tempers

(Look at previous pages for the Prologue and Episodes 1 and 2.)

In the 1960s there was a popular television show entitled Hogan’s Heroes.

Like this story, Hogan’s Heroes was often a series of funny takes on some serious situations, and Bonnie’s brothers and Dad were big fans.

Bonnie was still in a state of amazement that her new horse was really out there, living and breathing in the big field. There he was, every morning – grazing, wandering, tossing his mane and in actual residence just a few feet from the back door of the family home.

In precise equestrian terms, her new steed was ‘gray.’ However, to Bonnie’s wondering eyes, the horse was glowing white.

Cloud Dancer.

This was the name that had whooshed into Bonnie’s mind about three minutes after she first saw that animal. The boys and her Dad hadn’t been there the first time she saw him. The horse was roaring around, tossing his mane, glowing pale, dancing sideways as he’d paused in the driveway. He was fabulous – the colour  of clouds and full of spirit.

When Bonnie told the males in the family what name she had in mind, they laughed uproariously. Then they announced a choice of their own for the new family member.

‘ Hogan!’ they said. ‘ Hogan the Hero!

Bonnie, full of teenage hormones along with the thrill of horse ownership, was furious. This outrage entertained the males even more. The name kept being bandied about the house, and even Bonnie’s mother sometimes blurted it out. This was a bone of contention for some time.

The fact was, Hogan was rarely anyone’s hero. Later on, due to certain memorable events, the name Hogan the Horrible was spoken.

The small horse seemed happy in his generous-sized meadow, but now and then Bonnie was reminded of the terse but carefully worded warnings the horse trader had given.

‘Don’t hit him,’ he’d said. ‘Persuade him.’

In the past, Bonnie had observed plenty of horse-smacking in stalls and on the trails- riders would often give horses who were acting up a noisy slap on the neck. The horses would throw their heads up, and forget it a half-second later.

Bonnie was normally kind and sensitive to all creatures. The thing was, her horse wasn’t keen on getting his bridle on.

When Bonnie brought the bridle alongside his head, he evaded. He’d stretch his neck up as far as he could, forcing the petite girl to stand on her toes and reach for his forehead until she thought her arms would break. Cloud Dancer – aka ‘Hogan’ – was amused by this activity. He liked to do a few head lifts just to let the little human know he wasn’t a pushover, and then he’d submit to the bridle.

One day, though, Bonnie – tired and full of the aforementioned teen hormones- lost her temper.

For the third time that morning, the horse stretched his neck high. Bonnie strained, and could not get the leather looped around his ears. She flattened her hand and hauled off, smacking him resoundingly on his warm, silky neck where it curved into his shoulder.

It was as though a blast had gone off.

The horse yanked the lead rope attached to the fence and rose onto his back legs, head in the sky. The wire strand he’d been hitched to was pulled from the fence posts. She wasn’t sure if the horse made a sound or not, but his fast and violent reaction shocked her to her bones.

The words of the vendor zipped back into her head, and she wondered if she’d ever be a proper horsewoman. Could she really manage this horse?


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