Saturday, November 10, 2012

Fox - our temperamental mare.

Following is a story from my adolescent time, and as the German proverb says: “Beautiful is our adolescence, but it will not come back.” I hope you enjoy this story. Picture: I was twelve years old. - Werner

Our temperamental mare named Fox (Fuchs in German) because of her colour; the only other colour was a white strip on her face.


See photo: Fox and me during the war.  I loved that horse, I was really attached to Fox and I can remember vividly that I cried when she died. I could say that Fox was our (one horsepower) “motor”. She pulled our wagon full with produce from our farm, or us, if we wanted to go somewhere. That was the normal mode of transport then. She pulled the big sledge in winter with the whole family on it, going on short excursions to enjoy the wintry white landscape. In summer, Fox was particularly invaluable in pulling the plough and other farm implements to till our fields. But I derived my greatest pleasure from Fox, when I went riding with her on a weekend. And of course there was a “bonus,” she gave birth to two lovely foals in the time we had her.

In the summer time, we put ear caps on Fox (see picture) to keep out the small irritating insects, which loved to “congregate” inside her ears and caused her to constantly shake her head.  I was 12 years old when the photo was taken and, as you would have guessed, it was summer, consequently I was “topless” and I, like all other youngsters at that time, wore braces to keep my pants up - not belts.

Fox was an exceptional horse; as far as horses go, it can be best compared with the characteristics of a dog, friendly to their own people, but wary of strangers. Yes! That was our Fox. I have never experienced this in any other horse.  When strangers approached her she would put her ears back shake her head and give them a dirty look, often for extra emphasis, pulling her lips up and showing her big teeth.  That was the obvious reason why the army didn’t want a bar of her.  Everybody in the village knew about her and gave her a wide berth when she was ‘parked’ somewhere. There was definitely no chance of strangers “horsing around” with her.
In 1939 at the beginning of World War Two, army officers came to our village of Bischoffingen, to confiscate the strong and healthy horses from the farmers, to be used for the war effort.  Fox was one of the many they selected and I was worried that we will lose and possibly never see Fox again. But Fox; true to his wily form showed the army in no uncertain way that she didn’t want to join the army. She displayed her temperament, ears back, shaking her head, pulling up her lips and bucking - and the soldier who was supposed to lead her away was too frightened of her and let go of her. It took only a very short time for the officer in charge to say that they didn’t want her as she would be far too much trouble for the army. I of course couldn’t have been happier with this decision.

I recall one particularly Fox incident as vividly as if it had only occurred a short while ago.  Before every winter, everybody stocked up on coal, which was used for heating.  The coal dealer ordered the coal by railway wagonloads and the villagers went with their horses and wagons to the railway station to pick up their required quantity of coal. Grandfather and I, with wagon pulled by Fox, also went to get our quantity of coal. But to find out how much coal one had loaded we had to drive first with horse and wagon on a big weighbridge to get weighed, then after the coal was on the wagon we had to drive onto the weighbridge again to find out how much coal we had to pay for.

As we arrived at the railway station, we found that a long queue of wagons and horses had already formed and people sauntering about.  This was a slow process as only a couple of railway wagons at a time were opened and everybody had to shovel their own coal into their wagons.  But no one did really mind to queue up, this was a welcome opportunity for villagers to have a chat with each other, about various matters, but the subject that came up invariable, was the war.  But here was extreme caution required not to say something against the Nazi government, you never knew if there wasn’t an informer hanging around – and that would have been a matter of life or death.

Our local blacksmith carried out the shoeing of Fox and I can assure you that there was no love lost between the blacksmith and Fox.  As it so happened, grandfather was talking to someone and standing about one meter away from the hindquarters of Fox. He was unaware that the blacksmith, who was also in the wagon queue, was walking along the wagons and inadvertently came too close to Fox. She put her ears back, shook her head, neighed and at the same time kicked forcefully with her hind legs sidewise and sent grandfather flying. 

The look on Fox's face after this bit of hind leg acrobatics, what a horse would consider a brilliant kick, said it all, “sorry mate that was meant for that darned blacksmith!”  Grandfather got away with a big shock and a black and blue cheek of his “behind,” which lasted for some weeks and it was painful for him to sit on the chair. At a family gathering, grandfather showed us half his colourful buttock and said that the other half looked exactly the same. But he forgave Fox, he knew who the kick was meant for, he just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.

We of course all know that life isn’t meant to be easy. I hope you enjoyed this little story. - Werner

My thought for today. - Werner
Beautiful is our adolescence, but it will not come back. -German proverb.

(Schön ist die Jugend aber sie kommt nicht mehr.)

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17 comments:

Renee said...

Good story Opa, and nice to see a photo of you as a young boy. Brett is the spitting image of you. Was it old age that got Fox in the end?

– Annette said...

A beautiful story, Werner –

Pam said...

A charming story, Werner.

Jenny said...

I loved your story about Fox, Werner. Nice to know a bit about you when you were young. My own family migrated here from Silesia, in 1838. I often wish I could have gone there (although the Land exists certainly, but it is no longer called Silesia)

If I had plenty of money, it would be the first place I would go back to my roots.

Heather B. said...

What a lovely story, Werner, I really enjoyed reading it. Your children and grandchildren must be delighted; learning about your youth. Unfortunately not many people write about their history.

Barbette said...

Well,Werner, I must confess that I haven't visited your blog site for quite some time....your post below promised me some fun and interesting reading. I thoroughly enjoyed your current Fox - our temperamental mare...having whetted my appetite, I whiled away some more time reading through some of your older subjects. All in all an entertaining and enlightening read.
Keep up the good work!

Michael Trout said...

Werner, what a great story. Very enjoyable.

Megan said...

My thoughts exactly Renee (re.looking so much like Brett!)
Thank you for the story Opa. Sounds like your grandfather may have been lucky to come away with just a badly bruised behind!!

Nancy and children said...

What a wonderful and well-written and easy to read story, I read it out to my children and they loved it too, and said poor grandpa. I would like to take this opportunity and say thank you for your interesting and informative postings – your blog is a real treasure trove.

Fran and Matt said...

Everybody must have an interesting life story or life experience, unfortunately not many people like to write, and I’m one of them. Thanks goodness that we have people, like Werner, who do write, otherwise I would not have had the opportunity to read this lovely story. Thank you for sharing it.

Gaye said...

Werner, I had a horse which we rode to school that had a white stripe down her nose.. lovely story Werner, thanks for sharing your memories, I do not know why but hearing of experiences like this makes me feel so sad.. it was an evil time.... but a cute insecure kid in that photo.. you have not changed much...

Helga Vetter, Germany said...

I remember when uncle Phillip wanted to pick up some containers at the railway station; using Fox and the wagon. Fox with his intrinsic dislike of strangers; bolted as soon as uncle Phillip touched the reins. He sprinted like being in a horse race, with hapless uncle Phillip unable to get control over the wily Fox.

Fox turned around in a paddock on the outskirts of our village; headed for home and stopped in front of our house, to the great relief of uncle Phillip. It is needles to say that uncle Phillip was far from being amused and had some unflattering things to say about Fox. By the way, I’m Werner’s sister.

Lorna Jackson said...

I loved your story about Fox.

molly mandy said...

hi werner! this is molly. my first time to leave u a comment. i love your story, beautiful, im touched. your are right, life is never easy, im still pretty upset but i will hv to grow up become stronger.

Molly Mandy Hong Kong said...

Hi Werner! This is molly. My first time to send u a comment. I love your story, beautiful, I’m touched. You are right, life is never easy, I’m still pretty upset but I will have to grow up become stronger.

Alice and family said...

We love horses; we have three. We all enjoyed reading your lovely horse story, Werner.

Martin Maurer said...

Eine schöne Geschichte, Werner! Sie hat mich in die alten Zeiten zurückversetzt, an die ich oft denke.