Horses were always important members of the farming family, no more so than during the Second World War. Tractors were far from commonplace and, although farming was an essential occupation, the fuel that was supposed to be available wasn’t always. Fuel for horses, on the other hand, was generally readily available.
One problem with horses is that, at some time or other, many will come down with a dose of colic. In horses, colic can take many forms. The term may be applied at times to other abdominal problems but, in the main, farmers get it pretty right.
I can’t tell you the real name of the neighbouring farmer who was the main character (or, perhaps, secondary) in my little tale, any more than I can identify the horse. Even though both long dead, I would hate to cause embarrassment to the memory of either.
Old Jack (as I shall call him) told my grandfather he came out one morning to harness up Jupiter, the draught horse, only to find him in a fair bit of discomfort. Poor chap was standing there with a distended stomach. Jack recognised it as a dose of spasmodic colic. The local vet was overworked and probably wouldn’t be able to get there, so old Jack had to do what had to be done in an effort to get the horse well. That was important for them both.
Grandfather asked how he went about it and Jack explained the procedure in detail. Thankfully, with Jupiter still on his feet, it was easy for the treatment to be administered.
An inveterate pipe smoker, Jack filled the bowl of his pipe with tobacco, lit up and got it burning to a bright cherry glow. When satisfied it was stoked up as well as possible, he lifted Jupiter’s tail and… ahem… inserted the pipe’s mouthpiece.
Grandfather was surprised, to say the least, but Jack explained that the big horse, shocked at the intrusion, sucked inwards –just give that a moment’s thought if you will! – and got a good gutful of smoke. In a few moments, he blasted it back out, thus relieving the colic. Ten minutes or so later, Jupiter was ready for work.
Grandfather grinned and asked, “What about the pipe, old friend? You didn’t put that back in your mouth, surely?”
Jack, dead serious, replied, “Nah, mate, wiped it on me sleeve a couple of times first. Can’t be too careful now, can you…?”<Added>
Pity about the obnoxious capitals. My apologies. I had no idea clumsy old fingers had keyed Caps Lock until I'd submitted the piece. It won't happen again.