Wednesday, 26 May 2010

A horse called Midnight

Waiting at the dentist's yesterday, I had a call from Lynn to say that she was at the back of the island and could see a cow over on the mainland (she couldn't tell at that distance if it was a bullock or a heifer) standing in water up to it's belly, on a rocky promontory which is covered at high tide (not the one above).

She was only mildly concerned and I said I was pretty sure it would swim if it needed to. She said she would phone the owners anyway, and when I was called into the surgery I told the story to the dentist. He said he didn't know cattle could swim and I said, 'How do you think John Wayne got the herd across the Rio Grande?'

Or indeed, Clint Eastwood in Rawhide:

Though the streams are swollen
Keep them doggies rollin'

Horses are good swimmers too. I remember, as a child, sitting on the stern seat of the punt while my father rowed, his face in a purse-lipped expression of hard concentration which we all remember. Behind us, at the end of two long ropes, were a pair of horses, and the trick seemed to be to keep just far enough ahead of them for safety, but to avoid stressing them by tugging at their heads. My father grazed horses on a neighbouring island during the summer, and made use of their natural swimming ability to get them there.


Talking of horses, and Rawhide: Eastwood's character Rowdy Yates rode a horse called (in real life) Midnight, a well-known and ultra-reliable cast horse who starred in many westerns over the years. He was a particular favourite of legendary stunt rider Martha Crawford-Cantarini, who once asked the studio if he was for sale. Yes, they said - for $40,000. This would be in the early 1960s! Obviously she declined; then years later she had a call to say that Midnight had broken down (gone chronically lame) and that they were going to send him for slaughter. Martha was just an hour away, so she hitched the trailer and picked him up there and then. She put him out to grass, and during five years of happy retirement Midnight was never backed again. Martha's view was that having earned the studio so much money, he deserved the same from them - but they said, surprise surprise, it was uneconomic.

Martha Crawford-Cantarini received the Golden Boots Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005, for her contribution to the industry.

If you are wondering how Lynn's incident ended, a short while later the cow waded gingerly ashore.
blog comments powered by Disqus