Learn’n Gaelic to a Pony

Years ago I spent some time being tutored by a couple of seasoned driving trainers, as we were frequently driving buggies in local parades. This now horrifies me.  I have seen, over the intervening years, far too many of the things that can go wrong when, instead of being between your stirrups, a horse is 10 feet out in front of your wheeled vehicle, connected to you by long reins.

In view of the upcoming celebration of St. Patrick, it is also curious to me that my mentors (tor-mentors?) had names like McAllister, O’Carroll and McLennan.

Closeup of the eye and fur of the face of a donkey.

One year I was commissioned to train a pair of Belgian mares as a team to pull a wagon. All too late, I was informed that these gals had run off with and demolished a wagon. Gentle giants my left foot! As I spent a year working with them, rehabilitating their warped minds, I found these men’s methods were tremendous help. We finally molded those mares into a team, and we drove them on some trail rides! They actually became fun to drive and when they left here we were even a little wistful at their leaving. The things I don’t miss are: lugging around 50 pounds of harness and getting stepped on by dinner-plate sized hooves, carrying half a ton of mare!

Once, when a somewhat troublesome pony was trying Tom O’Carroll’s nerves, I remember him threatening the pony with

“well now, I guess I’ll be taychin’ ye Gaelic!”

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