Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Local News

May 4, 2013

THE PLAIN SIDE: A sleepy solution turns into a full-out horse race

Children: Do not try this with your horse (or pony or any live animal). Results may vary and they could certainly be much more devastating than the ones Freeman Gingerich reaped when he attempted the stunt.

My friend Freeman of rural Shipshewana is no dummy. He has many bright ideas and intelligent insights and, what’s more rare, the ambition to apply them. He is human, though, and it has been proven before — sometimes smart people do dumb things.

Freeman lives north of town and works west of it on busy U.S. 20.

Freeman is on his way to work on a frosty morning this past winter. He has elected to drive his horse and buggy with the extra chilly temperatures and stiff western wind today. Riding his bicycle would bring the advantage of stimulation and would likely deliver him to work wide-awake. But this morning it is just too cold. Freeman hitches Ranger to the buggy.

The relatively warm interior of the buggy and the rhythmic cadence of Roger’s hooves do cause a problem. Freeman is beset by drowsiness. He tries opening the front. He tries shaking himself. But after a few minutes, he catches his head nodding again. It surely won’t do to fall asleep while driving. He is a mile and a half north of busy U.S. 20 and wants to be alert when he gets to the highway.

Inspiration strikes. Freeman thinks of a sure way to wake up. If he gets out of the buggy and runs alongside for a bit, it will surely get his blood pumping and infuse him with a dose of oxygen. Ranger doesn’t trot all that rapidly anyway and Freeman figures he can easily jog beside the buggy while keeping one hand on Ranger’s lines. After jogging for a stimulating half mile or so, he will simply hop back into the driver’s seat and be wide-awake for the highway portion of his trip. Brilliant. Right?

“Whoa, Ranger.”

Ranger is not accustomed to stopping in the middle of the road, but he waits obligingly while Freeman climbs out and rearranges the lines to his liking.

“Giddyap, Ranger.”

Ranger feels his load is a bit lighter and hears an extra set of feet pounding behind him. In his early days, this would have spooked him, but he has covered too many miles to be alarmed at little things now. He trots along at his usual pace.

Freeman is fast waking up. This is fun. His left hand stays on the lines while his right arm pistons alongside as he trots along with Ranger. The narrow country road doesn’t allow Freeman room to run on the asphalt but the gravel shoulder is firm enough for a decent running surface.

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