This pony's bad habits couldn't deter her love of horses

Susan Manzke
Susan riding Snicker with the help of her cousin Carol.

I don't know when I fell in love with horses but I must have been pretty young when I did. Today I'd like to tell you about the first pony that came into my life many years ago.

His name was Snicker. I was about five years old. My parents, my sister, and I had moved out of Chicago when I was three. After living in a Chicago apartment for some years, they found a half-built house in the country just down the road from my father's two sisters and their families. Mom and dad wanted to raise many animals on their 2 ½-acre plot. We started out with little things like rabbits and a dog and a cat. Eventually, Snicker was added.

He was a dark-coated Hackney pony with a nasty disposition, but we all loved him.

Snicker was only with us a couple of days when late one evening somebody came pounding on the door. It was Snicker’s last owner, and he was drunk as a skunk. He wanted his pony back.

Dad told mom, my sister and me to stay inside the house and not to come out. He did not like the way that man was acting, yelling and screaming for his pony.

My dad went outside to see if he could reason with the man. Dad had no intention of letting Snicker go. He was sure that the pony had been beaten by that man and no way was that pony going back to live with him. Dad later told me he saw whip marks on Snicker’s back.

Somehow dad got that crazy man to leave. Snicker was ours until the day he died many years later at the ripe old age of 30.

Snicker had learned many bad habits from his original owner. For one thing he bit. For another, he kicked. One thing I learned from Snicker was not to turn my back on him. When I wasn't looking, he would open his mouth and take a bite out of me. I remember one time coming inside the house after taking care of Snicker – with a perfect hoofprint in the middle of my back.

Snicker had all kinds of tricks when you went to ride him. No matter how hard you tried to stay in the saddle you often ended up on the ground. Snicker would put his head down touching his nose to the ground and kick his back feet up and you'd go flying over his head. I think everyone in the neighborhood learned how to fall off a horse after riding Snicker. My dad even couldn't stay on board if that pony didn't want him to.

Mostly, we used Snicker for pulling a cart. At least when we were in the cart we couldn't get bucked off.

Of course, when my sister and I were very little we weren't allowed to handle Snicker alone. It wasn't until we grew a few more years that he became our project to feed and water and exercise.

Susan holds a pet bunny.

Mom and her rabbits

In addition to this pony, we had chickens and ducks. And of course, my mom’s special project, the rabbits.

Dad had built a hutch that housed about four cages. It stood up off the ground, so it was easy for Mom to manage.

Every day she would go out to the hutches. Mom would talk to her furry friends as she fed and water them, until one day when something happened.

Mom heard a noise under the hutch and bent down to see what was happening down there. It seemed that she was not only feeding the Mama rabbits, but another mother who had taken up residences on the ground under the hutches, a skunk.       

After that day it was dad's chore to take care of the rabbits. Mom would not go anywhere near that skunk.

“But the skunk never bothered you before,” said Dad.

“She didn’t bother me before, but now that I know she might,” mom told him.

I was fairly young at this point, so I don't know what happened to the mother skunk or her babies. I can only guess.

There are more stories to come. I hope you come back for more.

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165;;;