Some of my mother's favorite Tiko Stories are about how he would play jokes on people- her in particular. My mother would often help me out around the barn with all kinds of chores. It wasn't long before Tiko discovered that he could intimidate my mother.
When Mom would be shoveling, Tiko liked to come and stand in the pan of the shovel, just as she was about to lift it off the ground, Mom would then try pushing him off, yelling, and threatening to swat him. He would just flick his ears like she was an irritating fly but he couldn't hear her. Finally she would swat him and he would run away, flipping his tail and kicking playfully in the air. It was a horse version of mockery if you had ever seen it.
His next trick would be to stand back and watch the wheelbarrow begin to fill with her efforts with the shovel. When the wheelbarrow was just about full to the brim, and not a second sooner, it was time for him to strike. He would wait until Mom had her back turned, usually the moment she was leaning her shovel up against a tree or the barn so that she could push the wheelbarrow out of the corral. In that moment Tiko would quietly sneak up to the wheelbarrow and place his nose against its side, and push it over ever so gently, spilling all the contents out. Mom would get so mad she would try to swat him but he would stay well out of reach. He would even curl his upper lip back in a horse laugh.
In the wintertime Tiko loved to run and slide on the ice. He was an expert on just how far he would slide in one run, as he would slide to a stop with just an inch between his chest and the top of the electric fence. Mom again became his target for his favorite variation of the sliding game.
Tiko would stand in the upper corner of the corral, hip-shot in the sun, pretending to be dozing. Mom would enter the corral with a wary eye on her nemesis. When she reached the halfway point between the gate and the barn, Tiko would suddenly burst into action. He would run full tilt in her direction, altering course as she began to run for the fence. At the very last second before they would collide, Mom would dive under the fence, sliding on her belly, and Tiko would skid to a stop with his own body just an inch away from the fence. He would give a big whinny and dance off to his sunny corner to try to look all innocent and lure her back in for another round of Pony-style Chicken.
But Tiko and Mom were friends. He even helped me rescue my mother and little sister once.
Our bus stop was a mile from the house. I would ride Tiko to the bus stop with my little sister behind me. Mom would walk down in order to ride Tiko back with my sister after I was on the bus. We always rode bareback in the winter so that Tiko's body heat helped keep us warm.
This one time I had ridden Tiko down to the bus stop, and traded places with Mom to ride with Karen back home. They had just started out and were about fifty feet from me, when all of a sudden Tiko began to blow and snort in fear. A moose came out of the woods right beside them. Tiko tried running away, but Mom fought for control. She knew that she and little Karen could not stay on bareback at a full run.
Tiko was terrified though, and he jerked hard on the reins. The force of the jerk pulled Mom forward, up onto his neck. This broke the hold little Karen had around Mom's waist and with her slick snow pants on Karen lost her balance and fell off the running pony. She landed face first on the icy road even though she had out her hands out to try to break her fall. Her chin was split open in a two inch gash that went to the bone.
Meanwhile, Mom tried turning Tiko to run towards me so that I could catch him if she fell off, or even stop him if she stayed on. Before they got to me, Tiko dropped his head and Mom fell forwards towards thound. Her instinct was to curl her body and roll, to protect her head from hitting the ground. She hit and bounced like a ball. When she hit she landed on her neck and the side of her head, losing consciousness.
I ran to my mother lying in the road, and my three-year-old sister crying and bleeding. I had seen my Mom land on her neck and I was terrified to move her in case her neck was broken. I put pressure on Karen's chin and used my mitten to try to stop the bleeding. Tiko came up to me as I was trying to decide what to do. I knew help would not come soon. The bus would not see us down the hill from the bus stop. And Karen and Mom needed help fast. They could bot go into shock and die.
Tiko nudged me, then Karen and Mom, as if apologizing for his fear and their falls. I had to ride him back home and get Dad.
I carefully slipped Mom on the ice out of the middle of the road. She was semi-conscious now. I told her I was going to ride Tiko home for help. I sat Karen down in the only warm spot available, on Mom's legs. I put her hand on top of the mitten I had been using to staunch the blood and told her everything was going to be all right. I gave her a job to help keep her mind off her own pain, telling her to keep Mom awake by talking to her. Then I tried getting up on Tiko. He was too tall for me to get up without help. I led him down the road a little way and then got on using the hill to give me an advantage. I rode home as fast as he would run, and he ran faster than he ever had before. Dad heard our hoof beats coming and knew something was wrong. He was already waiting at the bottom of the driveway when we rode up. As soon as he heard that Mom and Karen were hurt he jumped into the car and raced down the road to them. He took them to the hospital while I cooed and dried the sweat off Tiko's hair before it could ice up. I put him in the barn and went to wait by the phone.
Karen had to have stitches in her chin, and Mom had broken the inner ear on one side, losing part of her sense of balance forever. But they were OK. Tiko had been part of the cause of their injuries, but thanks to his speed and willingness to come back to us after his fright, instead of running to his barn like his instinct would have told him to do, Mom and Karen did not suffer frostbite or shock. He was a hero to us.