Barry Hill is a Game Warden in the western part of the state, and he tells some good stories. One of the best is the time he was asked to ride in a parade, in the neighboring town, called Shotgun. It was “Shotgun Days”. What does that mean? Don’t know…nobody knows. It’s just a weekend celebration that every small town has…celebrating the past, or the future….or just celebrating today, because the tourists are here, spending money. It happens every year, and part of the festivities is the parade down Main Street: Fire Department, High School band, old cars, clowns and tractors. This year, Barry dressed up in his uniform, polished the boots, and put on clean hat. He had a three year old colt that was coming along nicely, and was pretty clam, for the most part, except for a few quirks, but Barry thought he could handle the parade ok. So, Barry packed the old mule with old fish stocking cans, like you see in the movies. They are metal cans about 35 gallons in size, with a fish on the side. We use to pack fingerlings into the high country with these cans, and they look neat on the back of a mule, sticking up in the air on either side of the pack saddle. And him riding in full uniform…very original and inspiring.
But, some days it’s better to stay in bed. Barry knew he was in trouble when he got all saddled up, leading the mule on the colt, they put him in front of the band. ‘Not a good idea’, said the colt…but Barry was too proud to say anything. The horse went to dancing around, but Barry was able to keep things under control. Off they went down Main Street, waving to everybody. Quite a sight. Made the Department proud!
About half way through the parade route, the band blaring and drums banging, trumpets blaring and kids screaming, and horse a dancing… the rope from the pack mule got under the horse’s tail. This, of course, spooked the horse, who clamped down hard on it with his tail, and there was no freeing it from the saddle. The horse, not sure what was attacking him from behind, starts backing up fast. That brought the mule, tied to the other end of the rope, around to where he was facing the horse eye to eye. The horse backed up till it hit the curb, which stopped his motion. Barry spurred the horse forward. The horse took three steps, which put him face to face with the mule, and the fish cans on top banging together… ‘clang, clang, clang’. That, or course, put the fear back into the horse, who started backing again. This time, when he hit the curb behind him, he reared just a bit. Barry spurred him forward again…face to face with the mule, the fish cans and the noise, which caused him to back again, this time with a lot more energy and fear. People were getting excited, running and shouting, and a dog joined the fray by barking at the horse, which caused more fear in the animal’s eyes. The horse backed again in a fury, and this time he reared straight up. Barry said ‘I knew he was going over, so I stepped off.’ The momentum threw Barry back against the brick wall of a building. He said ‘Ya know, I watched the whole thing in slow motion… The horse went up and then back, back… And, ya know, that plate glass window must have bowed three feet before the horse fell into Dr. Sunday’s dentist’s office.’ Fall he did, cutting off his right ear on the glass. Barry went in and retrieved his horse, led him out the same way he went in, blood all over him, the horse, the carpet in the office, and everyone standing around. Barry tried to put the ear back on the horse but gave up, stuck it in his shirt pocket, and headed for the truck, horse and mule in tow, leaving a trail of blood and the barking dog.
They got to the horse trailer, which Barry had had to disconnect from the truck to fit into the parking spot. Barry tied the horse, and walked over to get the pickup, when the dog that had been harassing them for the entire time came running out from under the trailer, under the horse’s belly, and bit him in the back leg. That caused the horse to rear again, pulling back, and dislodged the trailer from it’s chocks. The trailer began to roll backwards down a gentle incline…and landed in the front grill of a Cadillac.
Barry got the pickup hooked to the trailer, horse and mule loaded, and headed for the vet’s. He left town heading east, drove about a mile, and ran out of gas.
IM not sure what he said on the radio when he called in the accident, but the report he wrote was a literary masterpiece. The one eared horse is still in use over at Shotgun, and the State paid for a remodel of a Dentist’s office. No more parades for officers, however.