2012-07-28 / Columnists

HORSE TA ES

Stout, Solid, Stubby, and Sturdy: Pudge Lives Up To His Name
by Candice C. Dunnigan

“Once you see him, you will not forget him.”

This is a horse who lives up to his name. Pudge is a very stout, sturdy, little fellow, who lives and works at Jack’s Livery Stable. He is part of the drive-it-yourself group of horses there. He is dark, almost black in color, and has an air of grandeur in a stocky, stubby, engaging frame.

It seems that the crew of driving horses who work and live at Jack’s always seem to have a very strong following. The ride and drive stable has a viable repeat business every summer with clients who return every year and want to drive their “favorite horse.” It is rather nice that return customers ask for a horse by name.

It was quite busy the morning when I paid my call on Pudge. The stable yard was full of people. There were folks at the business desk wanting to ride, others waiting for their saddle horses and guide, and a couple who wanted to rent a buggy and horse to drive. The sun was bright, and there were rainbows shining inside the spray showers as the horses were getting their morning hosing.


Pudge is a very stout, sturdy, little fellow, who lives and works at Jack’s Livery Stable. He is part of the drive-it-yourself group of horses there. He is dark, almost black in color, and has an air of grandeur in a stocky, stubby, engaging frame. Pudge is a very stout, sturdy, little fellow, who lives and works at Jack’s Livery Stable. He is part of the drive-it-yourself group of horses there. He is dark, almost black in color, and has an air of grandeur in a stocky, stubby, engaging frame. Pudge, however, was oblivious to all the commotion. I went back to see him with James Mitchell, who works at the barn. He also happens to be a great Pudge fan. The horse was quietly in his stall, eating breakfast. In fact, we had to nudge Pudge, who didn’t want to budge. Pudge was not anxious to leave his spot. Right then, it became obvious that this is a horse who could not care less about any limelight from the press in the local news. He paused, regarded me with large, full eyes, and put his head back into the manger. It took a little push and tug to get him to back out of his stall. Once out, though, he amiably ambled out into the bright and busy yard. Then there he stood, with a “so this is what I’m all about” air.

What a horse. Pudge is up there with one of the mightiest of the mighty, and solid. But, when it comes to comparisons to the other draft horses on Mackinac, he is a mini package. He is most likely of Percheron descent, and he is just about as wide as he is tall. What struck me first about this horse was his massive neck. That is one thing about draftbred horses, their neck and shoulders are so large, and their legs are so strong with wide bones. He has a neck akin to a wrestler, or a bulldog.

Pudge is short backed and very compact. The way he is put together is reminiscent of the old style of Haflinger horse. Pudge has a short, bobbed tail and his mane is now “roached,” or clipped very short to the neck. I was told that when he first came to the Island this spring, his mane was long. In some ways, he strongly resembled a steed ready to find his jousting knight. As a matter of fact, before he went into the buggy service, one of Jack’s riders, Kevin Leach, did put a saddle (a wide one) on his back and rode him on the trails.

Pudge has a sweet face and a kind eye. He let me take a look at his teeth, which revealed that he is not very old. He came from Wisconsin, ready to work, but certainly not “made” for livery duty right away. The crew had to work with him backing into the shafts of the wagons. Pudge, in his defense, probably was leery of the poles, as the tight squeeze between those shafts must have taken some time getting used to. He did some time hauling the buckboard around as he learned his way on Mackinac.

Patience, practice, and perseverance with horses, as with most things, work wonders. Pudge is now pulling his own light blue four-seater on Mackinac Island. He joins the ranks of some wonderful working horses, which have been a part of that livery stable. These include Henry, Bud, and Beth, and all of them are characters. I’m certain he will help to make memories for all the visitors who come by him this summer. Mackinac has so many wonderful working horses, which really make up the backbone of our Island.

By the way, is it a coincidence that Pudge also rhymes with “fudge?” You be the judge.

Have a wonderful week.

Candice Dunnigan is a resident, writer, and equestrian on Mackinac Island. She belongs to various national and local equine organizations.

Return to top

Click here for digital edition
2012-07-28 digital edition