Written by Richard Barnum
“George! George! Come away!” cried his father. “That pony may kick or bite you!”
“Oh, no, Tinkle won’t do that,” said Mr. Carter. “Tinkle is a gentle pony, which is more than I can say of some I have. A few of them are quite wild. But the only bad thing Tinkle ever did was, one day, to leave the meadow and get stuck in a swamp. But I got him out.”
“He wasn’t really bad, was he?” asked George, who was standing near the pony, patting him.
“Well, no, I guess you couldn’t call it that exactly,” said the stockman with a smile. “Tinkle just didn’t know any better. He wanted to have some fun, perhaps; but I guess he won’t do that again.”
“I won’t let him run away when I have him,” said George.
“Oh, ho!” cried Mr. Farley with a laugh. “So you think you are going to have Tinkle for your own, do you?”
“Won’t you get him for me?” begged the little boy. “Mabel and I could have such fun riding and driving him.” Mabel was George’s sister. She was a year younger than him.
“Do you think it would be safe for a little boy like mine to have a pony?” asked Mr. Farley.
“Why, yes, after Tinkle is trained a bit,” said Mr. Carter. “He has never been ridden or driven, but I could soon get him trained so he would be safe to use both ways. Do you think you want to buy him?”
“Well, I might,” said Mr. Farley slowly. He was thinking whether it would be best or not. He did not want either of his little children to be hurt by a pony that might run away.
“I’ll tell you what we’ll do,” said the owner of the stock farm. “I’ll sell you a horse for yourself, and then I’ll start at once to teach Tinkle what it means to have someone on his back, and also how he must act when he is hitched to a pony cart. I am going to train some of the other ponies, and I’ll train him also. He is old enough now to be trained. Then you and your little boy come back in about two weeks and we’ll see how George likes Tinkle then,” finished Mr. Carter.
“Oh, I’ll love him all the more!” cried George. “I love him now, and I want him for my very own! He is a fine pony!” and once more George patted the little creature.
“You couldn’t do that to some of the ponies,” said Mr. Carter, as he and George’s father walked back toward the house. “They would be too wild, and would not stand still. But Tinkle is a smart little pony.”
“Good-by!” called George to Tinkle as the small boy walked away with his father. “I’ll come back to see you soon,” and he waved his hand at Tinkle and Tinkle waved his tail at George. At least George thought so, though I imagine that Tinkle was only brushing off a tickling fly.
But one thing I do know, and that was that Tinkle really liked the little boy who patted him so nicely.
“He has very soft, nice hands,” said Tinkle to Curley Mane, another pony, as they cropped the sweet grass together. “I’m sure he would be good to me.”
“Are you going to live with him?” asked Curley Mane.
“Oh, I don’t know,” Tinkle answered. “But I’ve always noticed that whenever any strange men or boys come to the farm here, in a few days afterward some of the horses or ponies go away, and I guess the men and boys take them.”
“Yes, that is right,” said old Dapple Gray walking up beside the two ponies. “You’ve guessed it, Tinkle. The Man, here, raises us horses to sell. I’ve been sold more than once.”
“Is it nice to be sold?” asked Tinkle.
“Well, it all depends,” was the answer. “The first place I was sold to was not nice. I had to draw a grocery wagon through the streets, and the boy who sat on the seat used to treat me not very well.”
“What did you do?” asked Curley Mane.
“Well, I’m sorry to say I ran away. It wasn’t the right thing to do, only I couldn’t help it. The boy fell off the seat of the wagon, I ran so fast, and he bumped his nose. Then the wagon was smashed and I was cut and bruised and I had a terrible time,” said Dapple Gray.
“Then the grocery man brought me back here, saying he didn’t want me, and after that I was sold to some men that made me draw the big shiny wagon that had a chimney spouting flames and smoke. I was treated well there. I had a nice stall with plenty of hay to eat and clean straw to sleep on. Sometimes I had oats, and I got so I could run very fast indeed.
“But it was hard work, and I soon grew tired. So they brought me back here again. That’s what being sold means. You never can tell where you’re going.”
“Do you think some of the horses here were sold to that man and little boy?” asked Tinkle.
“We can tell pretty soon,” answered Dapple Gray, “by watching to see if any horses or ponies are taken away.”
And, surely enough, the next day one of the men on the stock farm took away one of the horses. He was called Hobble by the other horses because, when he was a colt, he hurt his foot on a sharp stone and had to hobble for a week or two. But he soon got over that. And Hobble was the horse George’s father had bought for himself, though Mr. Carter named the horse Prince.
“Good-by!” called Hobble, or as we must call him, Prince, to his friends as he was led away from the stock farm. “Maybe I’ll see some of you again before long.”
“I don’t believe so,” called back Dapple Gray. But neither he nor anyone else knew what was going to happen to Tinkle.
When Prince had been driven to a big city, a few miles away from the stock farm, he was taken into a nice clean stable where there were one or two other horses.
“Ah, so that’s the new horse I bought, is it?” asked a voice, and looking behind him, from where he was tied in his stall, Prince saw Mr. Farley. Of course Prince did not know the man’s name but he knew he was the same one who had been at the stock farm.
“I wonder,” thought Prince, “where the little boy is that was patting Tinkle.”
He did not have to wonder long for he soon heard another voice calling:
“Oh, Daddy! Did the new horse come?”
“Yes, he’s in his stall,” said Mr. Farley.
“And did he bring Tinkle?” asked George.
“No, not yet. Tinkle won’t be ready for a week or so. And I am not sure I am going to get him for you.”
“Oh, yes you are, Daddy! I know you are when you smile that way!” cried Mabel, who, with her little brother, had come out to the stable. “Won’t we have fun, George,” she cried, “when we have a pony of our own?”
“We surely will!” said George.
“Don’t be too sure,” returned Mr. Farley, but he could not keep his eyes from laughing, even if his lips did not smile.
Prince soon made friends with the other horses in Mr. Farley’s stable, and they rubbed noses and talked among themselves in a way that all horses have.
And now I must go back to the stock farm to see how Tinkle is getting on, for this story is mostly about him.
“Well,” said Mr. Carter to one of his men a day or two after Prince had been sold and taken to Mr. Farley, “I think it is time we started to train Tinkle, if that little boy George is to have him. We want to get the pony used to having a saddle on his back, and also teach him how to draw a pony cart.”
So Tinkle began to have his first lessons, for animals like horses and dogs, as well as trained animals in a circus, have to be taught lessons, just as you are taught lessons in school. Only, of course, the lessons are different.
Tinkle was driven into the stable yard and while one of the men was patting him and giving him some oats to eat—which Tinkle liked very much—another man slipped some leather straps over the pony’s head. Tinkle did not like this, for never, in all his life, had he felt anything tied on his head before. He tried to run away and shake it off, but he found himself held tightly by a long strap, which was fast to the other straps on his head.
“I wonder what in the world this is?” thought Tinkle, when he found he could not shake off the straps. Afterward he learned it was a halter, which is the rope, or strap, that is used to keep a horse or pony tied in his stall.
So this is what Tinkle was held fast by, and when he found that no amount of pulling or shaking would get it off his head he stood quietly.
“Maybe if I am good they’ll take it off anyhow,” he thought.
But Tinkle had many more lessons to learn. I will not tell you all about them here, because I know lessons aren’t too much fun, though we all have to learn them.
So I’ll just say that after Tinkle had become used to the halter he was given a bridle. This was not so nice, as there was an iron thing fast to it, called a “bit,” and this had to go in Tinkle’s mouth so he could be driven.
“Oh, I don’t like this at all!” cried Tinkle as he tried to get the bit out from between his teeth. But it was held fast by straps, and a man pulled gently first on one strap, and then on the other, moving Tinkle’s head to the left or right. Soon the pony found that when his bit was pulled to the left it meant he was to walk or run that way, and so, also, when the other strap, or rein, was pulled, he must go to the right. After a while he did not mind the bit at all.
Next Tinkle had to learn to have a saddle fastened to his back. First a blanket was strapped on him, and Tinkle tried to get this off by rolling over and over. But the blanket stayed on, for it was fastened by straps, and soon the little pony did not mind at all. Then when the saddle was put on he thought it was only another kind of blanket at first, and when he came to know (for his mother told him) that all horses and ponies had to wear saddles part of the time Tinkle did not mind.
Tinkle was frightened when one of the boys on the stock farm got in the saddle on the pony’s back to have a ride. It was the first time Tinkle had ever had anyone on his back and he really was quite frightened. But he soon grew used to that also, and trotted around, walking and running as the boy told him to.
“Well, Tinkle is learning quickly!” said Mr. Carter one day. “As soon as he learns to draw a pony cart he will be ready for that boy George to drive.”
Being hitched to a cart, with harness straps all over him, did not feel comfortable to Tinkle at first.
“I don’t like this at all!” he thought. “It isn’t any fun!” But he found he could not get away from the cart, which followed him everywhere because he was hitched fast to it. Then he was driven about, made to turn around, and to the left and to the right by a boy who rode in the pony cart.
“Well, I might as well make up my mind to it,” said Tinkle, telling the other ponies what had happened to him.
“Yes, indeed,” remarked Dapple Gray. “That is what you ponies and we horses are for—to give people rides, or to pull their wagons. That is our life and if you are good you will be treated kindly.”
“Then I am going to be good,” said Tinkle.
In another week the pony could be ridden or driven very easily, and Mr. Carter sent word to Mr. Farley to come and bring George with him to the stock farm.
“Oh, what a fine pony he is!” cried the little boy as he saw how easily Tinkle was ridden and driven. “Do get him for me, Daddy!”
“Yes, I think I’ll buy him,” said Mr. Farley, so he paid Mr. Carter for the pony. Tinkle was taken to his new home, George and his father riding in the pony cart. Mr. Farley drove, but let George hold the reins part of the time.
“For you must learn to drive if you are going to have a real live pony,” said George’s father.
So Tinkle left the stock farm, and went to live in his new home, a big city stable.