Horses on the Farm
remember some of the horses we had before we moved from Malvern to Brown's
Corners. We had one team at
the Malvern farm that had problems. One
of them took fits, and the other was balky.
One day the hired man had this team over by Sheppard in the field between
the house and the barn. He was
turning with the harrows and turned too short.
The harrows caught at the one end and came up in the air.
It fell down, hitting the horse, Bill, on the back leg, breaking it.
That was the end of Bill. He
was the one that took fits. (When this sort of thing happened, the animal was
put out of its misery quickly with a bullet.)
Dad bought another horse. He paid
about $250.00, a lot of money at that time.
I remember what a beautiful horse she was!
Anyway, he thought he would be good to her and turned her out in the
clover field for a while. She got
colic. He was up all night with her
but she died anyway.
Hall had a light-brown driving horse called "Gin".
She was temperamental, and his boys, my uncles Oscar and
used to be pretty handy with horses, even as a kid.
When we were still at Malvern, I took Jack with me to a team of horses
which was already harnessed and tied to the barn.
We untied them and hooked them onto the wagon - the neckyoke was on them.
We hooked it onto the tongue and did up the traces.
I got Jack up on the seat with me and then we drove over to where Dad and
Howard Milne were working in front of the house.
Father talked about that for years. I
was only about five years old and my brother Jack was two years younger.
day the vet was at the farm and the men had a two-year old horse fairly close to
the outhouse which was at the end of the long shed.
Jack, Ches and I were in the outhouse looking out the window watching
them try to castrate him. Horses
were usually castrated when they were yearlings.
When they had tried to castrate this one earlier, the one testicle was
not down, so they had to leave it. They
can do a major operation, and go up after it, or just leave it and the problem
will usually (but evidently not always) correct itself by the time they are two
years old. By the time a horse is
two, it is pretty tough to handle, and I don't blame him for complaining.
Neil (the oldest Weir boy) and the hired man and the vet were trying to
throw this horse down but they couldn't. Dad
looked over to the outhouse where we were watching and yelled, 'Come on over
here! If you are going to watch,
you might as well work!' So we did,
and the job got done. The vet's name was Brown.
was another vet in
think that once we got the horse down on the ground that we kids had to sit on
his head and his body until the vet finished the castration operation.
house at Brown's Corners stood on a very large lawn amid a sixteen-acre field
beside the CPR tracks. One day, a
colt got out of the field onto the railway and was hit by a train and killed.
He was buried in a field on the east side of Markham Road.
From then on the work horses did their best to avoid that spot in the
field. It was difficult to work the
land in that field.
horses were pasturing in the field next to the traintracks and somehow the colt
got over onto the other side of the tracks.
When he heard the train coming he made a dash for the other side where
the others were and was instantly killed.
colt's mother was "Fan" and she would never go near that field again.
Fan was a dark-bay colour and was the mother of several colts throughout
day I rode Jack, our gray horse, over to Uncle Wallace's (husband of Dad's
sister, Vera) at
recall another incident regarding horses. My
sister, Ruth, and I were just about recovered from the measles or chicken-pox
and were not yet back to school. We
decided to ride our favourite horse, Dolly, bareback to meet our brothers coming
home from school. We met them at the
corner of Tapscott sideroad and what is now Finch Avenue.
We turned the horse to accompany them.
Suddenly it took off like a bullet and galloped into the yard with Mother
watching as we entered the yard. The
horse galloped right to the board fence, stopping on a dime.
Mother thought Dolly was going to jump the fence.
In later years we discovered that our brother, Blake, had lifted up the
horse's tail and given her a smack on the rear end.
was a driving horse that was also a "pacer".
She had a gait in which the legs on each side move together.
If you were on her back and she was "pacing" it was just like
being on a rocking chair. But she
was a horse that would "break stride" often and if she did that, you
really got a rough ride.
incident happened in
I was about thirteen years old, I was visiting at Henry Kennedy's place in
I was about nine years old Father used to take advantage of the fact that there
were three of us older boys who could run machines and do jobs that were more or
less routine (or so it was felt at the time).
This particular day he had me driving a team of horses pulling the
horse-fork for unloading hay. The horse-fork was formed in such a way that if
you pulled a lever on the fork it would activate a couple of hooks on the fork
to pick up a load of hay from the wagon. There
was a pulley system through which the horses pulled the load of hay up to the
roof of the barn straight above the wagon. When
it came to the car at the top of the barn it was tripped and the car would run
across the track and take the loaded fork with it.
You pulled the trip rope when it was where you wanted it and the hay fell
down into the mow.
particular day I was driving the horses and didn't realize that I had gone past
an apple tree. When the horses
turned around they went the wrong way and caught me between the rope and the
tree, with the result that when they put tension on the rope, I was pinned to
the tree. They went around the first
time and the rope caught my ankles. The
second time the rope went around my hips, and as they were coming around the
third time I was screaming. Tom
Dunn, our hired man, was up in the mow in the barn and he heard me.
He made two jumps, one from the top of the mow to the wagon, and another
from the load on the wagon to the barn floor.
He had the horses stopped and me out of there in about thirty seconds.
I had strained my hip and couldn't walk properly for about a week.
We sometimes used to ride horses from the farm at Brown's Corners down to Geordie Little's pond which was a mile east on Finch, to go swimming after working all day. This day I put a saddle on our horse, Jack, and I forgot a very important thing - I forgot to kick him in the belly before I pulled up the cinch. Jack had a habit of hardening his stomach while the saddle cinch was being tightened. The result was that as we went galloping down the road he eased up the pressure on his belly. The cinch let go and the saddle went upside down. Here we are galloping down the road and I am underneath him with my arms around his neck. I kept asking him to stop by saying "Whoa, Jack, Whoa, Jack". He stopped and let me off. I immediately knew what the reason was that this had happened. I straightened up the saddle and as I was doing up the belt I gave him a big kick in the belly. He gasped and drew in his stomach, and at the same time I tightened up the belt and fastened the cinch.
Jack Towson (Our first cousin, about the same age as Ches):
Uncle Jim Weir had a
sense of humour. We had moved from
the city to
the new High School was being built in
particular day, Bob Burrows and I drove to the Railway Station to pick up an
order of slate blackboards for the school which was almost finished.
Each board covered 16 sq. feet, so they would probably be 4'x 4'.
They were in bundles of four each, and there were several bundles.
Bob and someone from the railway yard carried them from the storage area
to the wagon, and loaded two bundles in an almost upright position against a
brace at the back of the wagon. The
wagon was not made for such a special load.
It was just an ordinary farm-type wagon with planks lying the length of
the frame for a floor. On each side
of the front and back axles was a bolster about a foot high.
I was standing on the floor of the wagon holding the horses by the reins.
The other two men went back to get another bundle.
The horses must have thought they could go and they both took a step
forward. The slates had not yet been
secured by a rope and the sudden movement unbalanced them and they came crashing
forward - the top edge knocking me forward, over the front of the wagon.
I ended up with my legs still on the floor of the wagon and my body
between the horses. As I fell, I
yelled, 'Whoa' and they stopped right away.
I was lucky that only my leg was hurt.
It was bruised and sore - not broken.
Bob was very thankful that my leg had not been crushed by the heavy
slates. There was no such thing as
Workmen's Compensation in case of injury in those days.
slate blackboards, however, were not so lucky.
As they fell, one corner of them hit the raised bolster and each slate
lost a corner - just a few square inches - but enough to spoil them for the new
High School. All was not lost,
however, Bob had them cut a little
bit smaller and sold them to #2 Public School on Finch Avenue."
The Scarboro Heights Record V14 #11