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When my father decided he would buy the family either some ponies or horses he let people around town know that he looking to buy a few ponies or horses. The first thing we learned was how different those two species and the people who deal with them, are. We learned that the people who deal with ponies won't generally have much to do with horses or horse people; and horse people - as a rule - avoid ponies and 'pony people.'
"Ponies are awful cunnin'," said one horse person, but he said there's 100 bad ones for every good one. We were told that a pony isn't just a large dog with a strong back and it 's not just a small version of a horse - it's a pony and some, despite their looks, can be ugly.
We finally came across a pony named Juliet that you could ride and it could pull a small wagon. My father was so impressed by the cute little thing that he bought it.
For a while it was a lot of fun hitching Juliet up to the wagon and taking her down to Main Street to let her show off for all the out-of-staters.
Sometimes we'd have her pull the wagon down to the garden to get some fresh corn or beans for supper. It was a lot of trouble, of course, but still a lot of fun.
The only bad habit Juliet had was stomping her front hoof on people's tender toes. She'd be standing there all cute and innocent-like and because she was so cute people just had to come over to pet her and fuss over her. But as they stood there fussing, if they weren't paying attention, she'd suddenly stamp her hoof on their toes and wouldn't they turn ugly.
Sometimes people would ask if it was alright to pet her and I'd say “OK, just watch her front hoofs” and they'd say something like “Don't worry, I'll be careful.” But when they were least expecting it that sneaky pony would stomp them something awful.
I was twelve when we bought Juliet so I knew my share of the bad words that were in popular use at the time. But once I started taking cute little Juliet around and she started stomping on peoples' toes, well, let's say I learned more curse words and creative expressions than I probably would have learned from the entire United States Navy.
One Sunday afternoon my brother and I took Juliet to town with the wagon and hitched her outside Hall's Market and went in for ice cream. When we came out the local pastor, Rev. Kellogg, was petting Juliet and going on about what a cute pony she was.
Before we could say anything Juliet - looking innocent as a lamb - brought her sharp little hoof down on Rev. Kellogg's left toes and he let loose a string of standard expletives and colorfully constructed phrases that just about burned the ears right off me. I only wish now that I had taken notes.
We didn’t tell too many people about the 'Rev. Kellogg incident' but I can still repeat from memory some of his more creative clauses.
Soon after that my father concluded that we weren't 'pony people' and we all agreed that selling Juliet might be for the best.
We sold her to a nice couple in Thomaston who told us we could visit her whenever we wanted. We then began the search for a good horse, after concluding that we were horse people all along.
John McDonald is a humorist and storyteller who performs regularly throughout
New England. Contact John at or 899-1868.
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