Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Wick Fisher
Moose Lake Star Gazette 

Jake with the slow gait

Wick's World


This year my family will escape the dreaded shopping debacle known as “Black Friday.” I seized the day and assured our family remained mall ineligible by renting seven horses from a ranch near Phoenix.

The contract stated, “All of your party must be on the premises and ready to ride at 9 a.m.” Evidently our guide had a thing with time and promptness, which coincides with only four of the people in our party. The other three wouldn’t know how to read a clock or when to look at a watch if their life depended on it.

This year we were required to have a guide accompany us along with the seven horses. I took for granted the owners assumed a party of seven gringos from the cities would never survive a journey in which we “rode through the desert on a horse with no name.”

When lining up the trail ride, I asked the six returning veterans from our ride five years ago who remembered the name of their horse. My youngest son was the only one who got his horse’s name right; and he answered without hesitation.

“My horse was named Jake,” he said.

My wife and I then remembered the horse and knew he was right. We both had grandfathers named Jacob and felt this horse was very properly named. Jake was a lame old grey plug that always brought up the rear. He was the slow driver on the interstate who never changed lanes. Jake never changed pace or direction either. "Whoa" meant absolutely nothing to him. The old saying, “Never say whoa in a horse race,” was as meaningless to Jake as stop, go, left or right. I wouldn’t doubt Jake thought "giddy up" was the dumbest thing ever to come out of a human’s mouth.

Five years have gone by since we were out to the stables, so there is a good chance Jake is no longer around, or at least no longer on the job. If he is still alive, grazing in the pasture would differ very little from his actual days employed as a riding mount. Jake was the only horse I ever knew that traveled at the speed of grazing.

Of course, this caused problems for the rest of us on the trail ride as we all had to stop periodically and wait for Jake to catch up. Catching up to anything other than a rare desert turtle was a difficult task for this horse with no gait. Jake was a horse that probably never needed to be fenced in. If he tried to run away, by the end of the day he would still be well in sight of the corral. Jake was a legend in horse circles, as he was known as the only mount to have never been seen to gallop.

I felt Jake’s owners should have named him “No Gate for No Gait,” but how would they have known that he would grow up to be more suited to an Australian walk-a-bout than a grueling ride in the Arizona desert? By the time we were nearing the end of our trail ride from five years ago, my son was out front with the reins in hand tugging Jake to the finish line. The rest of us were in the rear helping push Jake’s rear. That was the moment I realized the meaning of the saying, “Only the lead horse has a good view.”


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