On these ceremonial occasions, Charlie did most of the talking because you'd
have to scream at him to get him to shut up and then he'd be back jabbering
in fifteen seconds--owners made him nervous. "Oh, yes Ma'am, he's been a
perfect gentleman since I took him out that first time. Yessum, he's broke to
hobbles and coming right on down--about 2:18 ain't he, Gus? GUS! Goddamn
kids. Yep, the perfesser's (Charlie's name for anyone who'd ever read a book)
got him all hooked up and ready to go--that's him comin' onto the track right
The barn is at one end of the half mile track, the Mercedes at the other.
Brother Bob is already on the track with as gigantic chestnut trotter named
Count R Dave, son of Speedy Count, but nowhere near as speedy. Dave likes to
run rather than trot, because when he trots he bangs his shins. So jogging
Dave at the trot is something of a contest--a photo at any point it time
would show four feet in the air.
I come out of the barn behind SFB, and he's behaving perfectly with his
hobbles and overcheck precisely set to make him look like the nicest little
pony Grandma has ever seen. I'm going slow, Bob's already been out there a
while, so he comes up along inside me, wrestling with Dave. He has his normal
"Whoawhoawhoawhaowhoawhoa. It's 95 and clear skys in Grand Camaan today,
Butthead. QUIT, DAMMIT! If this horse takes off running, you better get out
of the way--it's so damn cold these lines keep slipping through my gloves."
"Look, just take him a couple of laps and get off the track. That's Grandma
in the black Mercedes."
"Oh, God. So I've gotta take care of Gus's horses, too?"
"Tell Charlie to smack him in the head when you get back. WHOOPS! "
SFB's seen the Mercedes. Suddenly, he doesn't like the hobbles and he starts
to buck. One bad thing about this little butterball is that he can maneuver a
lot better within the shafts of a cart than most horses, so, his first buck,
he breaks his overcheck and from there, there's no holding him back--he bucks
and bucks and bucks and bucks, meanwhile making ground around the track. I'm
being reasonably gentle with him, especially in front of Grandma. Meanwhile,
Dave has Bob on a romp that looks like the Ride of the Headless Horseman.
SFB and I get around the backstretch and the far turn and are approaching the
Mercedes when Count R Dave comes thundering up from behind. At this point,
SFB decides he's going to get rid of me for good and go on a romp with Dave.
He plants both his front feet and lets out the biggest kick he can deliver,
going for the home run ball.
But what this little feller hasn't learned is that hobbles have unexpected
consequences. His big kick swipes his front legs right out from under him and
he goes down on his forehead, ass in the air, with me slingshotting over the
whole mess, performing almost a full flip and landing flat on my butt as Dave
goes galloping by, Bob muttering "Oh, shit!" and snatching frantically at his
SFB has got himself all mixed up in harness and bike and is wrestling his way
toward the Mercedes. At that point, the smartest thing that has happend all
day takes place. Grandma backs up the Mercedes, heads rapidly down to the
barn and detaches "Muffy" from Gus, and is gone. We hear from her once more:
where to send the horse and a check for the training fee.
With the Mercedes gone, Dave got tired and settled down into a grudging trot
and SFB got himself wrestled to the ground by Charlie and me (actually, I
crawled over and sat on his head until Charlie got there) and we cut him
loose from $900 worth of demolished bike and harness. The hobbles were OK
Charlie said, "I knew this was going to happen. Heh heh, you hit the ground
like a sack a shit. Heh, heh, lucky you wadn't kilt by the trottin' horse. Ha
haa." Tears were coming from his eyes. I knew right then that I had come upon
a breed of insensitive nastiness the likes of which mankind had not seen
since The Hun.