Dobbin’s High Hopes
Have you ever noticed that potential tragedies, when they turn out OK become funny? Like when my baby brother Mark fell out of a tree. He was about fifty feet up when he fell, hitting every branch on the way down. I dimly noted that it looked like a cartoon tree fall, but I was too worried about my brother to laugh. Mom ran to him in a panic, scooped him up (I think an EMT would disapprove) and headed for the house. As she ducked between the fence boards, she whacked his head on a board.
He was alright, getting into more mischief within the hour, but looking back on it, we started to see the humor. That’s how it was with Mr. Dobbin’s High Hopes.
I was fifteen and caring for my neighbor’s two year-old Thoroughbred stallion. He was a pain in the neck with his adolescent hormones raging, but he sure was pretty. I turned him out into the corral to clean his stall and give him some exercise. This had always worked just fine, but this day he spotted some mares in a distant pasture and concluded, like many males under the influence of testosterone: “They want me.”
The fence was five and a half feet high, he wasn’t going to?….But yes, he WAS going to. He tore at the fence and cleared it with ease, muscles rippling under his sleek coat. Now, when mares say “no” they mean “no” but dumb little Dobbin didn’t know that. I ran to the rescue, but obviously the race horse was much faster. Halfway there I heard a loud, sickening “thump.” A mare had kicked him smack in the chest. If she kicked his skinny legs and broke one, he would have to be killed.
Fortunately, he was so depressed by the rejection that he let me catch him and lead him back to the barn. Phew. I didn’t kill my friend’s horse. But the image of him clearing that fence in the bright September sun is burned into my brain. Churchill said “There’s something about the outside of a horse that’s good for the inside of a man.” I think I know what he meant.