Source:Moffat, Myrtle Nee White. Buster - A True Story

Source Buster - A True Story
Author Moffat, Myrtle nee White
Place Frobisher, Saskatchewan, Canada
Publication information
Type Article
Publisher unpublished
Moffat, Myrtle nee White. Buster - A True Story. (unpublished).

In the following manuscript article written by my grandmother, I have largely left the punctuation and spelling as she wrote it. Where I could identify people referenced in this article, I have added their names in [square] brackets.

Rick Moffat

Buster – A True Story

When our girls [ Janet and Annie Moffat] were old enough to go to school, we either had to drive them there in the morning, and go for them again in the afternoon, or procure a horse that was perfectly reliable for two little tots to drive. Fortunately, their father knew where he thought he could buy the ideal horse, and, although told the horse was not suitable for the girls, he bought him. The family who owned him, had always called him Mark, but before father reached home, he had re-named him Buster, and Buster he has been ever since.

In appearance Buster was a beautiful, little sorrel, with sorrel mane and tail, and almost always, in the years he faithfully took the girls to school, he was rolling fat, his hair rich and glossy. A little horse we could have sold many times, to people who had children going to school. One neighbor friend used to say, he was worth a quarter section of land to any man who had children; and in those days that meant something in value, as then a good quarter section was worth a few thousand dollars.

We’ll never forget the first morning we started the girls out in the covered buggy, alone with Buster, to go to the town, where they attended school. Their heads just showed above the back of the seat; and a few minutes later, after they had got on the main road, we held our breath, as a car came along behind them. But we had no need to worry. If the cars were behind them neither the girls nor Buster paid any attention to them, and if they were meeting them, Buster always gave them half of the road. An uncle [probably Roger Moffat] who worked land along the road, had many a laugh as the cars would drive into the ditch on either side of the road in order to pass the buggy. This was before the highways were built, with their speed curves, and the fast driving of today.

I honestly believe Buster would have taken the girls just as safely without the lines as with them. One evening when they drove into the yard, I noticed something was wrong, and on making an examination found the right line, once around the dutch collar and twice around the shaft. But it made no difference to Buster, and the girls were not old enough to realize the line was caught and quite useless, for guiding the horse.

As the girls grew a little older they liked to ride him around the farm. This was alright with Buster for a time, but after a while he would become tired of walking for their enjoyment, so he would trot a few steps and they would both fall off. Then he would wait until they picked themselves up, and if not able to get on his back again, they would lead him home. At times like this, the girls did not feel very kindly toward him but we couldn’t help but admire his sagacity. No matter what the children did to him when they were small he would never hurt them. When our elder boy was small I have seen him standing between his hind legs, in the stable, smiling, as though well pleased with him self. But when the two boys [ Herb and Graeme Moffat] grew older and teased him he soon learned to show his resentment and more than once he kicked them, and at other times wouldn’t let them in the stall beside him. But no one ever blamed Buster, least of all the boys.

During the earlier years that we had him, while so gentle with the children, he would try his best to buck a man rider off of his back. They always had to be on the alert for fear he would succeed in doing so. But he could and did, buck teen age boys off. One afternoon, two cousins [ Robert and Alexander Moffat] of the girls, undertook to ride him home, and before they were out of our yard, he had them both off. The elder boy [Robert Moffat], with a determined look on his face came to the stable to get an extra strap for the bridle, so that Buster couldn’t get his head down and he succeeded in riding him home. His brother [Alexander] who was some years his junior, deciding to walk, no doubting thinking, discretion was the better part of valor.

One summer relatives from Ontario visited us and during their visit; the younger members of the household were invited to spend an afternoon at the home of their uncle about a mile away. Four of them decided to ride Buster. So they got on his back and he took them as far as the pasture field, but when they didn’t put him in the field, he evidently thought they intended to take him for a ride, and he proceeded to bump them off. By this time, the girls had grown big enough to stay on when he trotted, so he took another way of dislodging them. He stood still and raised his hindquarters until the children fell off, or, as we called it, bumped them off. After two of the four had fallen, the other two took the hint and slid off. Then, leading Buster, the four came back to the house, where they harnessed him to the buggy, and went visiting in a way satisfactory to Buster.

Another time, a nephew of fathers was visiting with us in the summer time from Souris. He expressed the wish to round up the cows for the evening milking and his uncle told him to take Buster, as he was always used for purposes of that kind. When they got to the pasture Buster deliberately bucked him off, and then quietly ate grass while the boy gathered himself together, and climbed on his back again. Had Buster run away, and left him to bring the cows the best way he could, the boy wouldn’t have been nearly so indignant.

Occasionally, Buster would bring the cows to the stable on his own initiative. Probably, the men had whistled for him to come for his supper, and he thought he might as well kill two birds with one stone, so he brought the cows with him. It was just as good as a movie to watch him. His lovely coat, glossy and shining in the sunlight, as he started the cows moving, nipping one and then another to get them started, and springing into action, quick and dynamic, if one dared to turn back on him. Once he had them all coming to suit him, he walked sedately behind them.

One summer, a cyclone went though the district where we lived, killing several people, and destroying much property. In the autumn there were a number of buildings erected and a good deal of neighborly help was practiced by the people. Father and a neighbor were helping to build a house for a family who had lost everything and used to ride back and forth together. Coming home one evening, Buster kicked up his heels and started to run, much to father’s delight and the surprise of his neighbor. He turned to father and asked him if he, Buster, ever acted like that with the girls. Father said he didn’t think so, but the neighbor was firmly convinced he was no horse for the girls to drive.

About this time an uncle and aunt from Ontario visited with us, and one afternoon uncle and the two girls went to town with Buster and the buggy. Uncle was a little suspicious of Buster and in town, told one of the girls to watch him. When uncle saw her again she was a block or more away from Buster and uncle was quite annoyed at her. He asked if he had not told her to watch Buster, to which she replied she was. We never knew just what Buster did that day to disturb uncle, but when they came home, I saw him talking very earnestly to father, and I felt sure something was agitating him very much, but I had no idea what it could be. As soon as I could, I asked father what the trouble was and he said uncle was certain Buster was no fit horse for the girls to drive. We were just as certain in our own minds, that Buster would never bring any harm to them, wilfully.

Between our farm and town there were two railways, and one way we went to town we crossed the tracks twice and the other way we had to cross them four times. Naturally, we were a little nervous about the crossings and warned the girls never to cross if a train were coming anywhere near. We never thought of counting on Buster as their guardian angel, but such he proved himself to be. One evening the girls came home and told me I need not worry about the trains as Buster absolutely refused to go on the track when a train was coming, but just as soon as it had passed he was on his way again. He would swing into a trot as soon as he left home and, unless stopped, would keep it up mile after mile, without urging.

Buster was small enough to be the ideal school horse, and big enough to take a place with the work horses, as occasion required. Always interested in Buster’s doings, I used to ask father how he kept up his share of the work with the big horses. His answer was that Buster was always in is place, and more, he always kept the horses next to him in their places too. There was no doubt about it, he was boss of the barnyard, and always claimed the right of way where the other stock was concerned. I have watched him go for a drink when the work horses were at the water trough. When he started he would be walking quietly enough, but as he drew nearer, first his tail would begin to swing, then his ears would go back, and he would begin to trot; and by the time he reached the trough most of the horses would be running in different directions. As soon as he had a place to drink they could all come back and drink, too. But what puzzled me, was how he managed to put fear into the other horses, because they had all the weapons he had, to put up a fight.

In case of accidents, or anything going wrong with the harness, he always stood still until things had been righted, or repairs had been made. While he would run away when in a team, we never knew him to so do when alone. One day, the girl who was living with us, and one of our children were driving along the road, when a dog jumped at Buster, from behind some bushes. Buster jumped into the ditch, falling and breaking a shaft; while the girl and our boy were thrown over the dashboard and fell behind him. Afterwards, the girl told me that as soon as she said “whoa” he never moved, until they were safely away from him.

He was mischievous too, for sometimes he would lead the girls around and around the yard, trying to catch him. He would eat grass until they almost had their hands on him, and then he wasn’t there. They laugh at his antics, now, though it wasn’t any fun for them at the time. Another habit he had that amused them was the way he would back into a pair of shafts, when they were preparing to leave town. If they weren’t there to hitch him into the first pair, he got into; he would try another pair. He was a wise little horse.

School days are long since past for Buster, and his time here, is quickly drawing to a close. Age, and the drought years, have left their indelible mark on him, but he still has the intelligent, undaunted spirit; which we all admired and loved. We shall always remember him, as the best horse in whose care we entrusted our dearest possessions, and never once did he prove unfaithful to that trust.

What greater tribute can we pay him?