We're raising a new colt, and it puts me in mind of the fabled Richard Brautigan story about "the worst bunch of horses ever assembled in a corral." It is a short chapter from the The Hawkline Monster
. The Governor of Oregon
Greer, Cameron and Magic Child went over to the blacksmith's shop to get some horses for the ride out to Miss Hawkline's in the morning. They wanted to make sure the horses would be ready when they left at dawn.
The blacksmith had a collection of strange horses that he would rent out sometimes if he knew you or liked your looks. He'd had a bucket of beer along with his dinner that evening, so he was very friendly.
"Magic Child," he said. "Ain't seen you around for awhile. You been someplace? Hear they're killing people over Gompville way. My name is Pills," holding out his beer-friendly hand to Greer and Cameron. "I take care of the horses around here."
"We need some horses in the morning," Magic Child said. "We're going out to Miss Hawkline's."
"I think I can do you up with some horses. Maybe one of them will get that far: if you're lucky."
Pills liked to joke about his horses. He was famous in those parts for having the worst bunch of horses ever assembled in a corral.
He had a horse that was so swaybacked that it looked like an October quarter moon. He called that horse Cairo. "This is an Egyptian horse," he used to tell people.
He had another horse that didn't have any ears. A drunken cowboy had bitten them off for a fifty-cent bet.
"I bet you fifty cents I'm so drunk I'd bite a horse's ears off!"
"God-damn, I don't think you're that drunk!"
And he had another horse that actually drank whisky. They'd put a quart of whisky in his bucket and he'd drink it all down and then he'd fall over on his side and everybody would laugh.
But the prize of his collection was a horse that had a wooden foot. The horse was born without a right rear foot, so somebody had carved him a wooden one, but the person had gotten confused in his carving, he wasn't really right in the head anyway, and the wooden foot looked more like a duck's foot than a horse's foot. It really looked strange to see that horse walking around with a wooden duck foot.
A politician once came all the way from La Grande to look at those horses. It was even rumored that the governor of Oregon had heard about them.