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Cousin Boone & The Half-wit Haflinger

Posted by Head Wrangler, 29 November 2010 · 258 views

The summer that my uncle brought home the haflinger in the back of his truck, I knew that it didn’t bode well for our dude ranch. In the first place, we were mostly an old-fashioned, traditional ranch, using quarter horses and paints for our trail rides and rental horses. We did own one Hackney pony, named “Hitches Boy”, (ostensibly for cart-driving use), but his main attributes tended toward tobacco chewing and extreme flatulence. Come to think of it, those were my Uncle Bob’s strong points, too. But that didn’t stop him from operating a small-time dude ranch in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York. He called the place ‘Oleo Acres’, but you’ve probably never heard of it ~ after all, it WAS one of the cheaper spreads….

     Problem was, of his 3 wranglers, I was the only 1 who’d even heard of a Haflinger before, and that was only because my folks had bought me ‘The Big Book of Horses’ for my birthday the previous November. Over the long , cold winter months, I had read & re-read that tome, more or less memorizing all the breeds mentioned in it, and their main characteristics.  And looking back on it, I guess that it was only fitting, since I was Uncle Bob’s head wrangler, after all. Not necessarily because of my knowledge or experience, but because I was older than the other 2 ~ and age Does have its privileges!

     Not being particularly adept at fractions, my cousin Boone wasn’t real fond of having to deal with quarter horses, so he really spazzed out when our uncle wheeled in and unloaded Snoopy, the Haflinger gelding he’d been given on his way home from the mail route that day.

     “What the heck is a half Linger, anyway?” queried Boone. “Some kind of a trick horse or somethin’?”

     “Naw,” Uncle Bob replied, “they’re a multi-faceted breed from over in Austria. They can be ridden, they’re great for pullin’ carts and buggies, and even sleighs, come winter. Heck, I figure we can pick up some extra business during the slow season by chargin’ folks for sleigh rides, ‘specially around the Holidays.”

    “Aw man,” whined Boone. “First quarters, now halves and multis…..All this math is startin’ to stress me out, ya know?!”

     “Well, the math looked pretty good to me ~ when I saw that ‘Free Haflinger’ sign on my way home today, I took it as a good chance to increase business around this place. You guys do want to get a Bonus at the end of the summer, don’cha?”

      “Yeah, sure,” I piped up. See, as Head Wrangler, I was also kind of the unofficial spokesman for the trio. “But Gramp always says ‘Folks generally get what they pay for’. Ya really think this free horse is gonna be of any value to us around here, or just another mouth to feed? I mean, if he was such a great animal, why were they givin’ it away?”

     “Well, darn it, Bill ~ some people just aren’t that sharp with their business dealings,” my uncle retorted.

      “I guess you’d know about that alright, wouldn’t ya, Uncle?”  I know, I was supposed to respect my elders, but this wasn’t the first hare-brained, get-rich-quick scheme my uncle had engaged in ~ it was just the most recent.

     “Darn right, Junior. You’ll be laughin’ out the other side of your face when I make my first million!” Bob replied.

     Yeah, irony is just wasted on some folks, I guess……





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