Friday, December 11, 2015

Charlie, the big white work horse


Recently my brother Max, in photo on left with sister, June, and I had a long conversation on the telephone. We don't see each other often these days. I wish someone had time to bring him to see me or just bring him up to where I can meet them.

He tells me these wonderful tidbits of family history that I can't wait to write as soon as I hang up.
The most recent story involved a big white horse named Charlie. Charlie was a popular name in our family. My grandfather's name was Thomas Charles and my father's brother was named Charlie.

But back to the horse. Daddy owned Charlie, the huge work horse, when he moved the family to the farm on Fleming Road in Dougherty County, Georgia. Charlie is part of my earliest memories. 

Charlie had the good life in winter when he didn't have to work in the fields, but in the spring when it was time for the plowing to begin, his vacation was done. Daddy harnessed Charlie to a big turning plow to start breaking land for planting and headed to the field. Charlie's energy level was up to the clouds and he almost trotted while pulling the heavy piece of equipment. Daddy said he could hardly keep up with the big horse. But by day's end, Charlie had slowed to a normal walk, his massive neck bowed under the strain of the load. 

An example of the harness used for plowing a horse or mule.  

Charlie worked the land for many years until he developed a fistula on his withers. Although it could be lanced and drained, it came back again and again. The veterinarian told my father there was no cure. Charlie could no longer be depended on for plowing. The harness rubbed where the fistula swelled. He was turned out to pasture and would have lived out his days there except for a man named Mr. Buntin who made his living buying and selling and trading livestock. One day he approached my brother Ray at work and asked if there were any animals on the farm for sale. Ray said no, and then he remembered Charlie. Charlie was no longer any good as a farm horse, and it costs to feed a big animal like that. 

Mr. Buntin made the decision not to buy Charlie, but offered to swap a green two-year-old mare for the older horse. I don't remember any of this as I was very young, but Max and his brothers were in their teens and they loved the idea of a pony to ride. So Charlie was taken away. I imagine if I had known, I would have been crying.

 A man was hired by Mr. Buntin, to get the horse into town. Charlie would not load on a truck or trailer and he would not let anyone ride him. The hired man led Charlie about a mile and decided he would ride him instead. He managed to climb aboard the broad-backed horse, but it was said that Charlie bucked him off, and he sailed as high as the top of the nearest pecan tree. When he came down, and picked himself up, he took Charlie's lead rope and walked him the ten miles into Albany.

american cream draft horse
I don't have a picture of Charlie, but this looks much like him. 
I won't tell you the fate of old Charlie as I am not absolutely sure of what happened to him. 
Click on the link below and read my poem about Charlie the big white horse who was responsible for my ongoing love of horses.


2 comments:

DJan said...

I will imagine Charlie in that big pasture in the sky, kicking and bucking and having a great time. Great story! I love horses, too. :-)

Vagabonde said...

I like the story of Charlie – he must have been a great horse. I also like the picture of the white horse that you show. Whenever I see a horse close I take its picture. I always liked horses but in Paris only saw them with the mounted police. When we moved to a suburb I was lucky to belong to a ranch and would go horseback riding weekly. When we went to Rome, GA, a while back there were horses in a field. We stopped and several came close to look at us – I took their pictures and need to place them in a future post – horses are so beautiful to watch.