My Horse

I OWN a tall, domesticated horse of the semi-angular type of beauty. He has an open countenance, a hollow back, and an expressive hazel eye. A former owner of the horse removed the other eye. This person was vexed and mortified because he could not catch the horse, and in the heat of the debate assaulted the animal with a gun. The horse has been sceptical about the trustworthiness of human nature ever since. I have owned him for a long time now, but I have not yet won his entire confidence. His name is Parkes.

He associates with a number of illiterate quadrupeds that roam the bush here, and they all regard Parkes as their chieftain. When any member of the mob finds a patch of couch-grass, Parkes depresses his ears and sidles alongside with a sour look. If the animal knows Parkes he goes away. But if he stays there, Parkes bites his neck and kicks him until he does adjourn. Then my horse eats the grass in a thoughtful way, and afterwards gets another horse to reverse ends with him, and whisk the flies off with his tail. But Parkes does not whisk for the other horse. He is too languid.

Many people think it is easy to catch Parkes, but they are wrong. They are deceived by the statuesque attitude he assumes when another horse is being caught. But when you approach Parkes with a bridle, he smiles satirically and goes away quite rapidly. That is, if you have only a bridle. But if you have a tin dish of corn, he takes the corn with him. He gets it by degrees from your hand, and when you grab for his front hair he ducks and cross-counters with his front paws. He is very quick with his left.

Last winter I made a rug for Parkes with two flour-bags and a

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clothes-line. He was pleased with the effect, and at once struck up an intimacy with a neighbour's cow, although before that he was a very bashful horse in female society.

The neighbour's cow's name is Mike. Her owner was facetious and named her Mike Howe. But (he is dead now) I am told he was otherwise a most estimable man, and a model husband and father.

Mike and my horse became very affectionate, and my horse got quite vain and haughty, because of the distinguished look the rug gave him. But one day, when he was trying to help Mike's calf into a lucerne paddock, the rug became disarranged. The ropes straddled his back, and the main body of the rug clung confidingly to his abdomen. When he next called on Mike, she received my horse coldly. He was hurt at this, and came home to me to have his garb refitted; but I took it off and made it into a meat-safe.

Mike never afterwards associated with my horse. She even pretended that she did not recognise him, and dropped his acquaintance altogether. Her cruelty broke my horse's heart, and he has never since recovered his old gaiety of spirit. He pushed Mike's calf down a shaft last week; but he is still gloomy and abstracted.

I think his disposition is permanently soured.