- June 15, 2022
- Jan Swan Wood
Back when we were raising horses, we had two proven saddle horse mares who had both foaled stud colts one year, and they were as opposite as can be, but became best buddies out in the pasture. The Thoroughbred colt, LeRoy, was all legs, big, gangly and full of mischief. Spider was a Quarter Horse colt that was soggy made, keen headed and not quite as full of mischief. Oh they were a pair. They spent a great deal of their time messing with things they shouldn’t, having horse races where Spider would win for the short distance, but LeRoy would win for the long distance. Their mothers were often victims of their shenanigans, as well as the mineral feeders, salt troughs, gate latches, water tanks, and the other foals.
Our closest neighbors had a particular attachment to LeRoy as they were instrumental in him even being alive. So, they watched him pretty close. One day our neighbor, who LeRoy was named after, was driving by our pasture. He observed Spider sound asleep, laid flat out on the ground, his mother grazing nearby. LeRoy was apparently done with his nap and wanted to play. He approached Spider and nudged him with his nose. Nothing. He increased his nudges, even nipped a little, pawed him with a foot, and still Spider wanted to nap some more. Finally, LeRoy appeared to give up and walked off about 20 feet. He turned and looked at Spider peacefully resting.
All of a sudden, LeRoy launched himself toward Spider. Neighbor LeRoy watched with delight as colt LeRoy ran full length of Spider, stepping on him with every foot. That got him up! He was peeved and let LeRoy know, but it didn’t phase the colt. Soon they were off playing, just as LeRoy wanted, and neighbor LeRoy’s day was made by his namesake’s wise apple effort to get his buddy up.
When the foals were weaned that fall, Spider and LeRoy were still buddies and kept up their steady antics in the corrals. We had some rubber feed tubs scattered in the corral to feed a horse in if needed. Those two colts would play with them by the hour. Tug-o-war was a favorite game, as was keepaway. One would run around with the tub in his mouth and the other would chase him. More often than not, the tub would end up thrown out of the corral when they were tossing it around. A few times I even found it on the offside of the eight foot tall windbreak fence. I’d also spot it in the air higher than that fence while they were playing.
The big blue ball inside the automatic waterer was one of LeRoy’s favorite toys too. He would dunk it over and over in the waterer, delighting in the water splashing out. He’d bite it too and finally, one way or another, managed to make it leak so it wouldn’t float anymore. He was a funny nuisance. Spider liked to play with it too, but it was kind of a “one colt toy” by its location in the fenceline, so Spider would spend his time opening any gate he could reach. LeRoy was also a proficient gate opener, but Spider was a master by the time he was grown.
As they grew, Spider was left a stud and finally matured at shy of 15 hands. LeRoy was gelded and grew to an imposing 17 plus hands. They still rassled by the hour and had mock fights on their hind legs. The rubber feed tubs were thrown even further over the fences when they got bigger. They played rough but never hurt each other, which was pretty amazing.
Spider was kept on the place as a saddle horse and stud, and LeRoy was sold to the rancher who owned his sire. The two buddies were split up, but occasionally, they were reunited on that ranch when Spider was taken there for daywork. They were always friends until the ends of their lives. Their antics are still chuckled about today. I’ve raised quite a few horses, but never a pair like those two and gate latches are sure simpler since they’re gone.
About Jan Swan Wood
Jan was raised on a ranch in far western South Dakota. She grew up horseback working all descriptions of cattle, plus sheep and horses. After leaving home she pursued a post-graduate study of cowboying and dayworking in Nebraska, New Mexico, Montana, Wyoming and South Dakota....