Good Old Horse Sense

     H. L. Hastings was born and raised near the little city of Rockland, Rhode Island.  His father was a very godly man who practiced his beliefs in a genuine way.  His faith in God proved not only to give him inner-peace but direct intervention for safety and protection many times.  The most outstanding incident concerned the family’s faithful and patient old family horse.

     The past week had been spent in smoothing tool handles in preparation for the planting season, and all the work caused an oversight in other needs.

     Mrs. Hastings told him there was a need for some rye to be taken to the nearby mill for grinding into flour.  Mrs. Hastings had a special combination of whole wheat, rye, and white flour that was the envy of all her neighbors as well as the pride of the large family.  So it goes without saying that Mr. Hastings immediately went to the open barrel below the work area in the three-story barn, poured the rye into several large sacks, and made his way rapidly to the mill.

     It was a beautiful early spring day.  There was a crisp feeling as the cool air blew across his face.  The horse seemed to be in good spirits and made its way easily down the very familiar road to the mill.  Mr. Hastings thought about how good it was to be living out in the fresh air of the country.  It was good to be alive.

     As they turned a small curve at the bottom of a slowly descending hill, Hastings spied the beautiful creek that rippled with sparkling, clear water across beautiful brown and gray rocks.  The little bridge that crossed the majestic scene had been there for years and years before he was even born.

     As he drove the wagon towards the edge of the first wooden planks, the horse balked.  Hastings popped the reins gently to prod the horse on across, but instead of obeying perfectly as it had done hundreds and hundreds of times before, it pulled to the right of the bridges approach and tried to turn around.

     Hastings gave the horse a firm stroke to no avail.  He popped the whip hard across it back, forcing the wagon up onto the bridge.  But the horse would not go any further.  It refused to cross the bridge.

     After getting off the horse and walking around the bridge to inspect it, he found nothing wrong.  So he climbed back into the wagon and sharply commanded the horse to move forward.  The horse went forward, but instead of staying straight, he pulled so hard towards the right that the rear wheels of the wagon went over the log guard along the dge of the planks.

     The farmer jumped out and the horse stood still, holding the front wheels catching on the log guard, so the wagon did not go over.  In this position the sacks of rye slid off right into the water below.

     When a neighbor came along shortly after Hastings, he saw those heavy sacks sink right to the bottom.  The two went down into the water to pull them out..

     He returned home, spread out the grain on two large tarpaulins to dry.  The entire morning had been waste.  But more than that it was such a mysterious event.  The horse had never done anything like that.  The gentle old horse behaved perfectly well all the way home.  Grazing out in the field he looked absolutely calm and tranquil.  Why did he do such a stupid thing.

     Hastings prayed extra long at the noon meal that day.  He thanked God for His protection in that accident which could have taken his life.  He also thanked the Lord for not losing the horse or the wagon. But even after the prayer had been offered, the family still could not figure out why it happened.

     “I prayed this morning, as I always do,” Hastings told his family and the two hired hands.  “And I remember being impressed to especially ask for His protection as we worked.  Now I guess I see why.  But I still don’t understand why the horse would prove to be the source of a problem.”   

     “Well,” one of the workers said, “maybe that wasn’t the protection you were supposed to be praying for.” 

     “What do you mean?” Hastings asked. 

     “Well,” the young man said, maybe the horse did that because you weren’t suppose to go into town today.”

     No one commented on that as they made their way back to work.

     “We finished smoothing all the ax and hoe handles.”  Using pieces of glass to place the finishing touches on the handles made them very smooth, preventing some uncalled-for blisters and sores.

     “Do you want us to help you reload the rye?”

     “The rye wasn’t soaked too badly, but let’s let it stay out in the sun for the rest of the day.”

     After the evening meal, Mr. Hastings and his wife went out onto the back porch to quietly sit together in their favorite swing. Looking over the peaceful scene before them as the last hour or so of the sun’s rays peeked in and out of the trees that lined the back of their yard, they both felt it was indeed good to be together out where you could really see God’s handiwork.

     “Mamma,” Mr. Hastings said as he raised straight up from the porch swing, “Mamma, look at that!”

     “Look at what?”

     “Look at the rye out there on those tarps!”

     “What’s making it sparkle like that?” she asked as they were both off the porch and making their way towards the yard.

     “I don’t know, but we’ll soon find out.”

     Standing over the rye that had now dried off the water particles it had retained from the creek, Mr. Hastings exclaimed, “Ma, those sparkles we saw out here in the rye is nothing but little pieces of glass!”

     It was not long before the family knew the answer to the strange event of the morning.

     “The rye was in two open barrels below where you were smoothing the ax and hoe handles.  This glass fell down into the rye.  If we had had it ground at the mill, we would have all eaten it in the bread.”

     “Sure enough,” one son added.  No one would have seen it, but when we ate it every single one of us would have died.”

     On the edge of the tarpaulins, at the setting of the sun, the family knelt before the God who had made the beautiful new England land and gave Him heart-felt thanks for His strange provisions for their lives.

     When the family horse died ten years later, it received a full family funeral, with all the honors.  Over the fireplace mantle in the living room hangs the picture of the horse, inviting all visitor’s inquiries to hear the story of the horse who had more sense than his owner.