Paddy And The Barbwire Brand

The Picture

 

Paddy drew by Wendy Liddle, a cowboy cartoonist

The Poem

The Barbwire Brand
 
My ponies rear
has kissed the fence!
Now brandin’ him
makes no sense.
                                             © Katie Kidwell, 1994
 
from the book:  “Well Hell.’
Illustrated by:  Wendy Liddle

The Story

Today, I thought I’d share the story of my last Cariboo horse. Being an Irish girl from a family of Irish names, it fits his name was Paddy.  Bruce Kiskaddon would have liked him.  In his words, he was the “old breed with a moustache on the lip.”

My first horse as a young girl came from royalty. When I married, I wasn’t allowed to buy anything higher than “meat price.”  Now I don’t regret the horses I owned this way, just the abuse they had suffered before me.  I know I gave them a better life for their remaining years. Paddy was one of them.
 
Paddy’s life started outright, but he had the wrong trainer.  This man who “broke him” was a neighbour out our way who loved to do everything “the cowboy way”.  His reasoning was, “You gotta make them buck and then get all the buck out of them.”  This approach, as most enlightened trainers know, creates a bucking horse.
 
So “broken in” Paddy returned home to his owner, a casual hobby rider.  Sensing his gentle colt was now a little uppity, he sent Paddy off to another trainer a little distance away.
 

This is where it gets a little complicated  

The second trainer had a brother-in-law who was also a vet.  When Paddy returned home from the second go-a-round, the word was, “he had the flue.”  His swollen body and inability to move was vouched for by a local range rider.  Yes, she too had seen him laying down at the trainers all swollen up with…the flue.  Remember this for further on.

How I Met Paddy

I met Paddy when the Swiss owners of our ranch asked me to help find a horse for Albert.  A friend told me her neighbour didn’t want his horse, and it had befriended her horse on the other side of the fence. Maybe Albert would want to take a look at him.

Albert liked him and asked what I thought.  I was concerned about the enlarged “capped” knees he had on his front legs.

“Oh, yeah,” said Paddy’s owner, “he had the flue, and he can’t bend his front legs now.”

I cautioned Albert, but he thought everything would be okay.

Back at the ranch, Paddy didn’t like Albert.  He didn’t like men and threw him when he was startled by an oil spot on the pavement.  It was a hard landing for a Swiss gentleman who had never ridden before.
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One day Albert phoned me, Paddy had backed into a barbwire fence and needed doctoring, and he had to go to Montana.  Would I take him back to my place and take care of the cut.
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So I did, and Paddy and I had a great three weeks together.  He was the only horse I’ve ever had that would trim your flower beds and not walk through them.
However, the barbwire cut left a scar, but that was nothing…
.

When Albert returned, he told me he was going to ship Paddy for meat, so I bought him.  One day I had the “brother-in-law” vet come and inspect Paddy.  I wanted to know the real story.
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He said, “I’ve never seen the flue do that to a horse’s knees.  That horse was put on the rocks.  It’s the way he trains them.”
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Paddy lived out his life with me.
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He laid down by putting his front legs out straight in front of him.  He got up this way too.  I rode him mostly at a walk, and then later Paddy, and I escorted my elderly (80 plus)  neighbour “Jud” and his (30 plus) horse “Bud”.  I took coffee in a thermos, and we’d ride up the hill to some tree and get off to drink and eat cookies and tell stories.  Carrots for the horses.
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It wasn’t a good feeling the few times Paddy tripped on the trail, so I rode him less and less, and he got fat.  This made it harder for him to get up and down.  He never had a chance to grow old.  But he played with my husky/wolf cross, who liked to lead him, with the rope in her mouth, around the yard.  AND he was loved by my orange cat Teddy.
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Paddy got his feelings up a few times at Jud’s horses and one year reared up and got his front hoof caught on the top wire.  I counted 26 barbs with blood and hair.  Jud gave Paddy a stall in his barn, and I doctored him there.  During this time Jud’s goat fell in love with him.
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The night Paddy left, the stars seem magnified around the moon.
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It made me think he wasn’t wasting any time getting over to the other side.  I told my friend Wendy about Paddy and a poem I wrote for his earlier, barbwire backup, at the ranch with Albert.   Her illustration of Paddy is here, along with my poetry.
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I wrote Paddy’s story here so you could know the more of it…
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© Katie Kidwell, 2015  True to You (no longer on-line)
© Katie Kidwell, 2019 The Living Of Loving