Young Doris Helps With the Horses–1920s (poem)

Young Doris Helps With the Horses–1920s
Dad drives the horses in from the field
to the water tank, where they guzzle
and snort. Smarter than tractors,
they head to the barn on their own.
I follow Dad to the barn.
Leather slaps as he unstraps harnesses
from the big creatures,
takes metal bits from muzzles.
He adds halters, flings flynets over,
their strings with knots at the ends.
Aroma of dust, leather,
and horse sweat.
Dad gives me a three-pound coffee can
to measure corn for the manger,
room for six to eight horses,
teams double-stalled down the center.
I help with double handfuls of oats,
counting from the bushel basket, while
Dad pitches hay, with its sweet dusty smell,
down from the mow and into the manger.
The munching is comforting.
I feel safe with my dad,
helping him with the big horses
at Mr. Hemphill’s farm.
After they eat, Dad lets them out of the barn,
into the pasture, where they lie down,
feet flailing, rolling to scratch their backs
while Dad and I head to the house for supper.


  1. When I was 4-5 my dad still had his team of horses. They were ‘retired’ by then. The mare was blind in one eye. He was moving them to a different pasture and put me on the male’s back. He opened the large farm gate and I rode on him to the horse barn. A memory I can still picture.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.