ORIGINALLY WRITTEN CAROL DUERKSEN & MAYNARD KNEPP
?Why?s Merv so interested in Preacher and Patsy?? Fred wondered.
?He saw him when he stopped at our place last month,? Jonas said. ?And
now that he knows who the sire is?well, I think Merv?s hoping to get a
race horse out of the deal.?
?What are you going to do??
?I don?t know. What would you do??
Fred grunted as he tightened a nut on the drill. ?Put a pretty price
on ?em. If Merv?s willing to pay it, sell ?em.?
?I?m not sure Merv will pay a lot, and I?m not sure I want to sell
them. Especially Preacher. The kids are really attached to him.?
?The kids?? Fred laughed. ?But not you??
?Yeah, I like him. I think he could become a good buggy horse.
Lightning?s getting older, and I need to be thinking about a
replacement sometime down the road.?
?He?s a thoroughbred, Jonas. They don?t make buggy horses. They don?t
pace, and they?re high-strung. Best thing you can hope for out of him
is a fast riding horse.?
?Maybe you?re right. But? I?d still like to try.?
?How old is he?? Fred asked.
?It?s time you get him cut.?
?Well, it?s up to you, what you do. Me, I like horses, but they have
to earn their keep.? Fred stood up and wiped the back of his greasy
hand across his forehead. ?Let?s go in and have some tea. And I need
to see those grandkids of mine.?
Later that night, after the girls were in bed, Jonas and Sue Ann sat
in the dark on the front porch. Sue Ann was nursing and rocking E.J.
to sleep, and Jonas sat in the porch swing he?d made for Sue Ann for
their fifth anniversary.
?I?m sorry if I hurt your feelings when I said you make everything
complicated,? Sue Ann said quietly from the rocking chair. ?I know
this horse thing is a big deal for you. Did you get any advice from
?You didn?t hurt my feelings,? Jonas responded. ?I know I do that. Dad
had a simple answer?put a high price on the horses and sell them if
Merv?s willing to pay.?
?But that isn?t a good solution,? Sue Ann?s voice reflected a
statement rather than a question. She knew Jonas well.
?If we sell Preacher, we have to start all over with a colt,? Jonas
said. ?He?s a good horse. Why should I sell him? And Patsy, she?s a
good brood mare. We?ll want more colts in the future. Why sell her??
?Then keep them.?
?I will,? Jonas said firmly. ?But I think I?ll send them to Indiana.
Can?t hurt to breed Patsy to the same stallion?we can always sell that
colt. And if Merv wants to break Preacher for us, that?s fine. We?ll
get him back, and hopefully we?ll have a great riding and driving
?Have fun telling the kids.?
?I?ve thought about that. I think we should get them a pony they can
ride. It?ll help take their minds off Preacher, and give them
something more their size to learn on. Marie and Ben and Becca are
just the right ages to start with a Shetland pony.?
* * *
Jonas left by 5:00 a.m. the next morning, like he always did, to go to
work at the Schmidt dairy. He?d been employed there for 12 years?ever
since he turned 16. Working for the Schmidts had its perks. For one
thing, Jonas really enjoyed his job, and Harlan had put him in charge
of the whole dairy herd. Being able to drive their pickup to and from
work was another advantage. And having access to a phone came in real
Like this morning. As soon as the milking was done, Jonas used his
credit card to call Merv in Indiana. He told Merv he wasn?t ready to
sell either of the horses, but he?d be willing to let Merv borrow
Preacher until he was well broke, and he could also take Patsy back to
be bred to Legacy. Merv said he?d leave later that day and be at
Jonas?s place the next morning.
The next morning, a Saturday, was Jonas?s weekend off, so he didn?t
have to worry about missing work to meet Merv. He was concerned about
one thing, though, and that was loading Preacher in a horse trailer.
He?d never been in a trailer before, and Jonas knew from experience
how difficult it could be to get a horse in a trailer for the first
time. The only factor that might help a little bit was that Patsy
would be in there too.
Jonas had explained to Becca at the breakfast table that he?d decided
to let Preacher go to Indiana, but that he wasn?t selling him. He?d
also promised her a Shetland pony ?real soon? that she could ride, and
she seemed appeased. She insisted on watching them load the horses,
however, and saying good-bye to Preacher.
Jonas caught Patsy, attached a lead rope to her halter, and led her
into the trailer with barely a change in her stride. She?d done this
many times before.
Preacher followed Jonas dutifully until Jonas stepped into the
trailer and expected Preacher to go in as well. He?d never seen
anything like that contraption before, much less been asked to go into
it. No way. Huh-uh. He tried to back up while Jonas, equally
determined, held on tightly to the lead rope. Jonas quickly looped the
rope around part of the trailer for leverage and to help him hold the
strong yearling. Preacher?s neck was stretched tight, his halter and
rope taut. His agonized breathing came in shallow gasps, and his eyes
rolled back in fear.
?Daddy!? Becca cried from where she stood, watching. ?You?re hurting
?Stay back, Becca!? Jonas ordered from inside the trailer. ?Maybe you
should go back to the house.?
Becca didn?t leave, but neither did she say anything more. She knew
she?d better keep quiet if she wanted to stay and watch. And she did,
as much as it hurt to see what was happening.
?Come on, Preacher, it?s okay,? Jonas encouraged. ?Come on, big guy.
Patsy?s in here. You can do it.?
Preacher leaned forward just enough to ease the tension on his
halter. He stood at the trailer entrance, breathing hard, regarding
?Here?s some grain, Preacher. Come on,? Jonas continued in a low
soothing voice. He shook a can of grain just out of Preacher?s reach.
Preacher knew grain, and he loved it. He stretched his neck into the
trailer, his lips begging for the treat. But his feet remained firmly
on the ground.
?Merv!? Jonas called. ?Come try lifting his front feet in.?
Under normal conditions, Jonas could do anything with Preacher?s feet.
He?d been lifting them since the day he was born. But these weren?t
normal conditions, at least not as far as Preacher was concerned.
Merv slipped beside Preacher, keeping an eye on the horse?s ears and
body language. A horse in this position could throw himself down, lash
out with his feet, kick?anything. A person couldn?t be too careful.
?Let?s go, Preacher,? Merv said, reaching down to pick up the right
front leg standing in front of the trailer. He lifted it the 12 inches
up to the trailer floor and set it down.
Now Preacher felt very unbalanced, and he didn?t like it. Just as he
started to pull back again, Jonas tightened the rope a little more.
Once again, Preacher pulled back with 800 pounds of determination.
Suddenly, without warning, the rope shredded, and Preacher crashed on
his back legs with a thud. He recovered in an instant and whirled
around, wild-eyed and ready to run.
Jonas was out of the trailer in a second?talking, calling, assuring
the frightened horse. He worked his way up to Preacher and reached for
?Get two more lead ropes out of the shed,? he told Merv. ?Strong
Jonas hooked one of the ropes to Preacher?s halter again, the other
one he tied to the end gate of the trailer.
?We?ll encourage him from the back,? he said, and Merv nodded
knowingly. He?d been through this before too.
It took a lot of time and patience to get Preacher to the position
he?d been in before the rope tore, but finally he was standing with
one front foot in the trailer. Merv slipped around to the other side.
Leaning heavily on the horse, he lifted the other unwilling foot up,
then backed away quickly and grabbed the rope tied to the end gate. He
slowly pulled the gate toward him until it bumped Preacher?s
hindquarters. Preacher jumped. Jonas pulled quickly. Merv pulled the
gate closer. With one lunge, Preacher stood in the trailer, trembling.
Merv latched the door while Jonas quickly tied Preacher, then he
escaped through a small side door.
Jonas wiped the sweat from his brow and grinned at Merv. ?Maybe part
of his training at your place can include trailer loading.?
?Yeah, there?ll be an extra charge for that,? he chuckled. ?But we
sure can do it.?
?Speaking of extra charges, I was wondering if you?d want to get a vet
out and have him gelded while he?s there,? Jonas said. ?I was going to
do that this summer, and I don?t really want to wait till he gets
?Sure you don?t want to keep him a stallion?? Merv wondered.
?I don?t know why. I don?t need a stallion. And I sure don?t need a
horse acting studly around here?they?re too dangerous.?
?OK, we?ll see what we can do,? Merv answered. He didn?t sound very
convinced, Jonas thought. But maybe it was just his imagination.
?I?ll bring Patsy back when we know she?s bred,? Merv said. ?I?d
better hit the road now. We?ve got a long trip ahead.?
Becca walked slowly up to the trailer and stared at what she could
ORIGINALLY WRITTEN CAROL DUERKSEN & MAYNARD KNEPP