June 8th…“DID AN ANIMAL EVER TEACH YOU A LESSON IN HUMILITY WHILE GROWING UP ON YOUR FARM IN MINNESOTA?”
Considering their size, Shetland ponies are some of the strongest horses in the world and are capable of pulling over twice their own body weight. They are also very intelligent. When Little Lady came to live on our farm, I sensed a loyal heart within her and we became fast friends. She was an equine beauty and almost always wanted to please me………except once. Little Lady, with her high intelligence, seemed to know that I was about to “show off”, one day, and she was determined to teach this young whippersnapper (me) a lesson.
I recall it was one of those perfect Summer Minnesota days when Mom’s sister brought her clan over from Austin, Minnesota to enjoy some fun, food and fellowship. Cousins Brenda, Valerie and Deanna were always so sweet to play with and make memories with. This day would be no exception to the rule, cause a memory in humbleness was in the making…..for me.
Since the cousins had come to MY farm, and since this farm was MY country boy domain, and since my cousins were CITY people…..well, I kinda felt like I was “king of the hill”……little snob that I was. After all, it was ME who had a pony and not them, right? Our group headed for the barn where I saddled Little Lady and led her outside. We then began our walk west from the barn and out through our orchard to the Alfalfa field that had recently been cut down and baled. The ground there was flat, wide open and ideal for this haughty boy (me) to “strut my stuff” with my pony and impress my girl cousins along with sister, Candice. Little Lady seemed to sense that I was being a selfish “Mr. Ego” kid as I set my foot to stirrup and swung up into her saddle. “Lady” and I had enjoyed many a fast gallop in the past, so I knew she could fly like the wind, but today was going to be different. I goosed the stirrups into her sides and yelled a loud, “Heeeyaaawww!” to command her to run. She took off at a fast pace, alright, but things began to go wrong, QUICK!
Flying like a bullet, she began to buck as she’d never bucked before……and at a RUN, no less! Before I knew it, she had bucked me out of the saddle and up onto her neck. Within a few more seconds, gravity took its course and I had now swung UNDER her neck….all the while, she was still bucking wildly! My weight, hanging from her neck, was no match for her to be able to maintain her balance at a run much longer. My sagging body had now begun making contact with her piston-pumping front legs. I deserved a spanking and so I was being butt-battered by her knees! Poor Little Lady couldn’t take it anymore as she tripped and down we went!!! That pony did a head-over-heels somersault over the top of me. As we hit ground, I quickly glanced up across the stubbled Alfalfa, at ground level, and saw her large body land just inches from my head. I would have been crushed to death by her weight if her fall had been just a few inches closer.
In the melee of the fall, Little Lady’s hoof had slammed into the back of my head and pierced the scalp which bled profusely. Dazed as I got up, my cousins, who had witnessed my catastrophe from afar, were now running and arriving on scene from where I had left them at the edge of the Alfalfa field. Poor Little Lady got up from her fall and seemed to be alright, overall, as far as I could tell. Like most farm boys, I was bare-chested during the warm Summer months, therefore there were scratch marks all over my torso from the fall. Still too stunned to ride again, we began the walk towards our farmyard as I led Little Lady behind me by her bridled reins. One of my cousins called out, “Elliott, you’re bleeding!!!” Sure enough, I had a rivulet of blood that had flowed from that scalp wound, down and around my left shoulder and the crimson flow was now cascading down the center of my chest. Reaching back with my hand to check the wound site, I could now feel a dent in the back of my head where my equine buddy had hit it with her hoof. Little Lady had just taught me a lesson by “eating humble pie” and, with the point of her hoof, had taken some “hot air” outta the head of this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.