An equine dilemma

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic
Short Story

Submitted: May 22, 2013

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Submitted: May 22, 2013






Uncle Charlie died and left me his favorite horse; or I should say, his only horse. Why me? I have no idea. Nobody ever questioned Charlie’s motives unless they wished to get into a long debate about how socialism and communism were two different animals. Now that his ashes had floated down the Credit River into Lake Ontario, it was too late anyway. So I had a horse, a 3rd floor walkup apartment and a real problem.


How Charlie happened to have a horse in the first place is a tale in itself. It is destined to go down in our family lore; a legend. It seems that one bright afternoon, 4 years ago, Charlie and Grady Watson were sitting around at Grady’s Riding Academy in Caledon, seeing who could drink the most whiskey in the shortest time before falling off their chair, when they were informed that one of Grady’s mares was about to deliver. On staggering to the barn, they witnessed the birth of the ugliest foal ever seen north of Toronto. The colt was jet black, bow-legged, had huge ears and the haunches of a miniature tank. There was absolutely no way this creature would ever make a popular riding horse for children. Grady was all for sending the poor thing directly to the glue factory then and there. But Charlie and the whiskey, had other ideas. He claimed the little guy winked at him just after he was born. This was an omen, he said, and immediately challenged Grady to a fight. Grady said Charlie wouldn’t know an omen if it bit him on the ass and accepted unconditionally. Though many punches were thrown, very few actually landed and, after a lot of falling down on both sides, the tired combatants declared a truce, had another drink of whiskey and reached an understanding. Charlie could have the colt as long as he took care of him and Grady would board him free of charge as long as Charlie lived. When and if Charlie passed, all bets were off. Grady made that clear.


So that’s how Charlie got a horse which he proudly named Champ. And now he was mine. What the hell was I going to do with a horse? I couldn’t even afford to board him at Grady’s or any other place. Then I thought of Buddy Duval who was with the RCMP in Ottawa. These guys have that Musical Ride that they do with horses and perhaps they could use a healthy 4-year old stallion. Can’t do, said Buddy. We’ve got all the horses we need. Why don’t you try the Toronto Mounted Police Unit? So I did, and what do you know? They were enthused. Champ was exactly the kind of horse they preferred, black, big, strong and impressive. We made a deal. They got Champ for nothing and they made a few of my parking tickets disappear.


My life went on. Then one morning I read in the Star about Constable Abruzzi of the Toronto Mounted arresting the elusive Serial Luxury Car Denter who had been kicking in the doors of expensive automobiles downtown for months. And he was riding Champ at the time. There was a picture of both of them on page 3. I felt like a proud parent. (Actually, The Denter was not all that clever as he was apprehended wearing a heavy ski boot on his kicking foot and a light sneaker on the other.) His reign was over, however, and Champ and Constable Abruzzi were famous. People were asking for autographs and Japanese tourists were taking pictures of them left and right.


I just had to see Champ. I made an appointment and arranged to meet Abruzzi and him at their training facility the next morning. I hardly recognized my ward. He was, without a doubt, the most handsome animal there. His coat was superb, ebony black and sleek. His ears stood up as if saluting. Not a mark on him with legs like pillars. Talk about the ugly duckling story. I wanted to cry. I spent about a half hour with them and then left strutting, feeling like I was responsible for the whole thing.


As I turned away, you know what? That damn horse winked at me.



Richard Torpey May 31, 2007

© Copyright 2019 Richard W Torpey. All rights reserved.

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