Uncle Henry and the Horses

Fiction Friday Prompt.

My mother,Agnes Ayers,
aged 18
a force to be dealt will

  • There are those people that see danger at every corner. They usually die of boredom at an early age.
  • Then there those people that would not recognize danger if it pinched them on the earlobe. They usually die at an early are of carelessness.
  • There are those people that see danger but know they can deal with it and still have what they want. We were and are that kind of family.

My Uncle Henry convinced my dad first that he had a good idea. We should take pack horses and walk into the Eagle Cap Wilderness in the wilds of Oregon. The horses and all the equipment could be borrowed from the same farmer that delivered the pigs in The Pig Man, an earlier post. Packs, hobbles harnesses and all the other horse vacation requirements were borrowed. The farmer loved his live stock. He understood how they thought could have lived in a stall with a horse and been happy.

We, on the other hand, did not want anything to do with pack horses. My mother, the lady that got rid of the pigs, definitely was not in favor of this vacation plan.

My uncle was a wild sort of guy that loved the west and should have been born a 100 years earlier, or at least that is what my mother liked to say. This adventure of his was dreamed up over an elk camp late evening fire I am sure. The sisters and their husbands always vacationed together so my uncle had to have his way every three years.

We packed all the clothes, bed rolls and the food on in the cars, a horse trailer was attached to the farmer’s pickup. Do you begin to see that we really did not know what we were doing, did not have the equipment and probably should have been going to the beach?

I was four or five at the time and it was 1945-46. The six adults with, 5 children all under the age of 10, set off on foot for the first camp several miles into the wilderness area. As I remember it the trails were very clear and not hard for children to walk. Huckleberries were ripe and the wild animals were plentiful. Bear track and scat were seen soon, making the walk just frightening enough to satisfy the men, to make the woman jumpy and to keep the children from wandering off.

First night found us in a meadow, horses hobbled and us bedded down on the ground in sleeping bags closer the the camp fire than we probably should have been. My mother’s youngest sister whispered to her husband I see two little eye glowing in the fire light. Uncle Henry, her brother-in-law over heard and told her to hush, she was scaring the children. It’s only a deer he announced and turned his back. That was when the hobbled horses learned to run at full tilt in spite of the fact that their front and back legs were attached left to left and right to right.

Now, let me tell you, when a hobbled horses runs away you have got to wonder what was horrible enough to teach an animal that is that dumb the gate of a trotter.

The men ran after the horses in the dark but soon gave it up. As I remember, once a horse learns to be a trotter it never forgets. Those horses wandered all over everything every night. The horses were always found the next morning down the trail. The men, not seeing this as a problem, took a horse with their bed rolls and most of the food. (There were more than a few flaws in the plan.) They left the women with the younger children to find their way up the trail as they scouted ahead for the mystic lake with the big trout we were seeking. I might add that in those days when you camped for more than few days you needed fish to eat. Bacon and potatoes along with beans could loose their good taste after the first day and stomach aches would be sure to follow.

The men and boys slept at the lake that one night. The younger children and women made camp on the shores of a small river. We found angle food cake and onions on our pack horse and ate that for supper. We hobbled the horses and slept with the fire roaring in front of us. My aunt was instructed by her older sisters to keep her eyes closed. We didn’t want any more I see two little eyes! scaring the children.

The horses had a wonderful time…as it turned out it was probably the best vacation they had ever been on.

When my uncle mentioned horses again, my mother frowned and my dad clamped his lips shut. I knew right then the horses would not be going on vacation with us ever again.



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