Horses were a key part of life in the early years


Lorna Marquardt

I met my hubby, Donny, while vacationing at the home of my grandparents, who lived on East Lieg Avenue. I was 16 years old at the time, and he was 18. Although he had a car, Donny usually rode his horse, Beauty, when he came to visit me. Her name was quite fitting; she was a sleek, beautiful Tennessee Walker he purchased from Martin Miller. Beauty enjoyed the green grass on Grandpa’s lawn while we sat on the front porch and talked.

My hubby had horses most of his life. When he was a young boy, his dad bought him his first horse from Art Wendorff. Her name was Star. During those years, horses could be kept in the city. My hubby’s dad, Clarence, built a horse stall behind their garage. The horse stayed there during the summer months, and in the winter the horse was taken out to the Wendorff farm.

Donny would often take his horse down to the wastewater treatment plant that was located behind what is now Oak Ridge Apartments. He would tie his horse there to graze. Martin Zoglmann, who worked at the plant, enjoyed the horse and moved her around so she could continue to graze throughout the day.

Donny’s grandfather, Herbert Marquardt, lived next door to Elmer Papendorf’s store on South Main Street. Some of you readers may remember Claus Mahl, a local who had a large draft horse named Dumpling. Claus would often tie Dumpling to a stake on Grandpa Marquardt’s front yard. He would walk across to Walt Buchholz’s bar. My hubby and the neighborhood kids loved Dumpling and kept her company while Claus enjoyed a few “cold ones.”

Sometimes Claus was a little, let’s just say tired, when he left Walt’s Bar. He would climb into his horse-drawn wagon and lay down on the seat. Dumpling knew the way home, a farm located at the end of East Lieg Avenue. Sometimes Dumpling took herself a little nap in the middle of the road. I guess she thought if Claus could nap, she could, too.

When we married, we bought a piece of land in the town of Wescott. Hubby had a small barn built and he bought a few horses. He had a beautiful Morgan he named Maggie. One day the phone rang. It was Donny calling from the barn. His voice broke as he said, “Lorna, call Doc Prudom right away. Tell him it’s an emergency.” I knew it was something very serious. I didn’t ask questions.

Donny returned home hours later; he looked drained. He tearfully told me his horse had been struck by lightning. The lightning put a wide gash in his horse’s chest and leg. When I saw her later that evening, I had my doubts his beloved Maggie would survive. The large, open wound looked horrific. She was given medication to control the pain.

My hubby had asked Doc Prudom if the horse needed to be put down. Prudom said it was the first horse he saw that survived a lightning strike. He told Donny he thought the horse would make it if he was willing to give the horse medication and treat the wound several times a day. Of course, he agreed.

He faithfully cared for Maggie for months. Amazingly, she healed beautifully. In fact, there was only a very small scar barely visible. The following fall she was feisty and ready to go on trail rides again.

Donny taught me about horses and how to ride. I also learned herds have a dominant horse and there is a “pecking order” of horses.

Horses that live together often form a strong bond with one another, although they may not get along with every horse. It is easy to see which horses have bonded, as they will often stand very close to one another. They have a variety of ways of communicating; sometimes pinning their ears back or giving their tail a quick swish. They also communicate with their voices. A snort, a whinny, a nicker or even blowing through their nostrils has meaning. They also use their hooves to communicate by pawing on the ground or stomping. Donny seemed to understand them and he instinctively knew when something was wrong.

I enjoyed standing by the fence while my hubby called, “Maggie, Ruby, Tonto, Cain.” They would come running full speed from the woods, always lining up along the fence in their pecking order. They knew they would receive a carrot or apple. My Arabian Cain was the last in the pecking order. I tried sneaking him a treat before my hubby got to him. Well, that certainly didn’t work. Maggie, the dominant horse, had her say. She quickly came over, Cain dropped his carrot, and she promptly ate it. Poor guy, I should have named him Wimpy.

Lorna Marquardt is a former Shawano mayor.