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27 June 2009


My father kept a horse named Manifesto at Paddy Farrell's, and we children rode hired animals from his stable. Paddy was whippy looking and very kind, and seemed very old to me although he wasn't at all. He and his explosive little (chestnut I think) showjumper Johnny Canuck won competitions all over and I remember watching him at the Winter Fair.

He had a brindle greyhound who liked lying in the sun. I still have some racing plates I picked up (magpie child - who knows if I had permission) from the grass next to the tack room. I used to ride a piebald pony I named Crackers, but sometimes was assigned a beastly Shetland pony that had a bull neck and would bolt in the orchard and scrape me off by galloping under tree limbs. I was six or seven and not very strong.

I was a favourite of Paddy's, so when a television show featured him, as well as bounding around the ring on Johnny Canuck he was also shown instructing me (cuteness factor) as his youngest student "jumping" over something just about flat on the ground. I had a day off school and was made to go over and over and over the obstacle. I remember being a bit disgusted that they chose what I considered the worst one :-D

Later, after moving to the United States, I got in a certain amount of trouble because I made a card for Manifesto (I suppose normal children would make cards for humans), and was grilled by the teacher about it. I didn't understand why for a number of years. Tricky, moving to another country - and the closer a language is the more difficult it is to protect yourself. At that same school we had a French teacher who didn't speak anything but French to us, and I can still remember what she looked like, her energetic air, and remember which words and how she taught them (common nouns mostly that she could put her hand on and name, exhorting us to "Répétez après moi."). I must've liked her; my classroom teacher (Miss Vecchioli) was a bit of a dunce, however.

posted by - 2:00 AM

We were taught "Aupres de ma Blonde", and "Sur le Pont D'Avignon" by Mrs. Techmeier, from Alsace, divorced from her American (World War II) soldier husband, who must have been quite a looker, because her son Willy was a knockout and adored by all us French students.
or maybe Belgium
Why on earth would you get in bother for making a card for a horse? Some teachers are just plain weird!
Because the horse was named Manifesto and I'd unwittingly fallen into a place where there was absolutely incredible paranoia about anything that could be interpreted as having to do with communism, i.e. the Communist Manifesto.
The 50s were unbelievably strange in the US ... everyone afraid of everyone else.
It was the 60s, but as my sister would say, same difference.
everything I know about relating to people I was taught by horses.
Shouldn't that be "Houyhnhnmous?"
Only if the commenter was Jonathan Swift.

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