My Father, Percy Carter

Percival Carter with his S model Jaguar.

Percival Carter with his S model Jaguar.

Training a young unbroken horse to the stock whip.

Training a young unbroken horse to the stock whip.

Percival John Carter was born in Melbourne in 1891. His father died when he was 3 years old. His mother raised the family on her own. Percival was infatuated with horses at an early age, and told me stories of watching the blacksmiths tend to the horses when he was just 5 years old. It was a hard life, with 4 other siblings in those days. He used to work at a young age to assist his family, and by 13 he was assisting drovers, moving stock around the Melbourne suburbs, and on some trips to Wodonga in NE Victoria. Dad was married a couple of times, and my story is from his last marriage and family until his death.
He was a great  horseman and cattleman, and his career in both those fields made him a legend to all who knew him, or knew of him. Apart from droving stock from Victoria to Queensland during the droughts, he also acted as an agent, buying herds of cattle on behalf of his clients. Many in Gippsland acquired their whole dairy herds from my father. He was also an agent for Angliss Meats, and travelled the country, buying up cattle on behalf of Angliss for their abattoirs. Apparently he could judge what the  dead weight of the cattle would be, just by looking at them. He had some great reputations for his skills. He also  broke in and trained the young horses, all types of horses, stock horses, children’s ponies, and race horses. He even had dares with other horsemen, about retraining horses. I recall he took a  top rodeo horse, and taught it not to buck so it could be ridden by any competent horseman. We knew him as the horse whisperer, long before that description became popular in the press. He was so very kind to horses, he was never cruel or rough like a lot of so called horseman. He said you had to gain their trust, that was the only way that you could then trust them, to do what you asked. He was still breaking in and re-training horses just before he died, at age 83 and 9 months. He was retraining  a big racehorse, the horse stood 18 hands high, the jockeys were frightened of the big horse. This one used to buck and no one knew why, so they sent the horse to dad. My father had the horse for a few hours, and figured out the horse had an internal problem with its back, which required an operation. Apparently a nerve may be cut or damaged, during castration, or during a horse’s life, which creates substantial pain for the horse, when a weight is placed on the horse’s back, like a saddle or rider. Hence the bucking, to remove the weight or pressure which caused the pain. Once the horse recovered from the operation, he went on to win many races, and there was no more bucking. The owners and trainers were lucky, that  they had someone like dad, to save the horse for them. Dad was still active at the Cattle sales at almost 84 years old. He was very active, in mind and body for his age. A steer had knocked him down and trampled on him in the cattle yards, he was taken to hospital and spent six weeks there. He told me one day, his chest was still black and blue from the bruising, but staff were not doing much. He said they are just waiting for me to die. I was outraged. My older brother was living in Townsville, and he arranged for dad to fly up there, and my brother would get the help dad needed. Dad had never been on an aeroplane before. He was amazing, but I guess anything would be better than being left to die in hospital. Unfortunately Dad tripped on an obstacle at Mascot Airport, which apparently triggered a blood clot in his leg. By the time her arrived at Townsville, the leg was numb. He was rushed to hospital, and the Doctors waited a week, trying to decide what to do. At his age, in his condition an operation  was dangerous. However they opted to take his leg off, to stop the blood clot reaching his chest.  Dad tried to joke about it, he said he thought he would get a cork leg, as he heard they were not as heavy as a wooden leg, and wondered how he would be able to handle the horses, and continue his work. Unfortunately Dad did not survive. The Doctor said the shock to the body of having the leg removed was the final straw. It was so sad, this man who loved and cared for animals all his life, would have his life ended by one.

Only a couple of years earlier, his family and friends travelled from around the country, they came to Wodonga, to celebrate Dad’s 80th birthday. It was a huge party, held at the Wodonga Bowling Club function room. There were some wonderful speeches made by many of his friends, giving praise to this kind man, and his wonderful accomplishments.

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