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by Ginger Gerken Plisko Laplante
Mischief wasn’t a fancy show horse. She was a family horse who brought fun and
pleasure to all of us for 35 years rather than making her mark in the larger world of
competition, although I think she could have, had we been oriented that way.

Mischief came to us in the mid 1960’s when my husband, Mike, chatted regularly with
one of his customers about their horses and learned that he had great hopes for
racing his yearling filly. Then one day the customer came in mad as a hornet. The
filly had gotten out repeatedly since he had sold his other horse and this time had
tossed her head on the way home and knocked his tooth out. Now he wanted her out
of there and fast.
MischiefBarrelRacingMischief Barrel Racing
So we drove up to have a look and found a scrawny bay yearling tied on a
30 foot rope in a barnyard. She was friendly and thought nothing of having
my small step daughter put on her back so we bought her for something like $125.
The illegitimate daughter of Miss Marion Grey, a yearling Standardbred, pasture bred
by an unknown, probably a pony, she was named Miss Marion’s Mischief and totally
lived up to her name for all of her 36 years. She spent a year fattening up and
growing at my father’s Connecticut farm where she began by letting all the horses out
by laying a 3 bar gate flat on the ground and also managed to escape by opening a
supposedly horse proof people gate. While there she also grew to her adult height of
14.2 with her shoes on.

On her return to New Hampshire Mischief received her basic saddle training with my
12 year old step son riding her behind me on my mare, telling her to trot when I did
and so forth. He also took her to a pony club camp where she astonished everyone by
jumping out of her stall to join the young people having a class right outside and
standing on her hind legs reaching up to sniff and see if Bill was up there in the
sleeping loft over the stall. We also hauled the two of them to several small local
shows in our area. Bill soon lost interest in working with horses but his younger
sister Lee Ann was mad to be on a horse from the moment she saw one and soon took
over riding Mischief.
Horse Mischief In Top BuggyMischief In Top Buggy
Meanwhile I trained Mischief to drive and we began many years of driving one or
another of my antique vehicles happily for miles and miles on our dirt country roads.
She drove in a major parade at the age of four, gave carriage rides around the park for
my museum, more rides for a bank opening a branch in a carriage house, took a
friend to her wedding, pulled the Shaker ladies in a surrey at the bicentennial parade,
took me from my second wedding to the reception at the farm and went out regularly
for years with The Granite State Carriage Association.

We and the kids also did a great deal of casual trail riding with her
and she and I once won a judged trail ride because
the Judge thought we were having such fun doing it. Mischief would go anywhere and
through anything without a fuss. In her spare time she taught all our horses how to
cool off by wallowing like a hippopotamus in the farm pond.

Lee Ann and her father soon began serious work training Mischief under saddle and
they went to all the small horse shows in our area showing her on the flat, in trail
classes and over jumps in an English saddle and winning ribbons in nearly everything
except English Pleasure. Mischief moved like a Standardbred which apparently
counted against her.

Then one day Mike suggested that they try the pole bending, which they
had never done before, and Mischief roared through them in her English
saddle changing leads for every turn. From then on she was also shown in all
varieties of gymkhana classes winning buckets of ribbons in them also. She
eventually became the Junior Barrel Racing and Gymnkaha Champion of New
Hampshire.
Horse Mischief Sleighing GSCA GunstockHorse Mischief Sleighing with GSCA at Gunstock
If a show offered a driving class Mischief competed there too, often winning the class.
Wanting to encourage driving classes, we went to all shows in the area that offered
them, once hauling Mischief, two ponies and three vehicles to a show and making up
almost the entire class. We also went to the first Maine Carriage Days with Mischief, a
large pony, 2 harnesses and one Meadowbrook and played juggle the vehicle
throughout the show where Mischief won the road marathon but literally fell asleep in
the pouring rain waiting for the cones class and then when her turn finally came,
simply could not wake up enough to miss hitting the cones.

Throughout the years Mischief also continued to live up to her name, escaping when
she could, racing straight away, and so tearing the lead rope out of one’s hands,
especially when it was time to get into the trailer, taking advantage of any door
opening she might dash through, making sudden turns into a field entrance under
saddle and so forth. But, with all her tricks she never did anything dangerous and if
she got herself into a pickle she never panicked but always yelled for help until it came.

There are numerous family stories beginning “do you remember when
Mischief..… “ She also provided us all with endless pleasure throughout the years not
only because she was endlessly interesting and seemed to be able to do absolutely
anything asked of her, but also because she so obviously enjoyed it all herself.
We lost Mischief to a brain tumor when she was 36. The world is much emptier
without her.
Ginger Gerken Plisko Laplante
Canterbury NH

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