Imagine being a young man at the turn of the 20th century, trying to make enough money to save a small western farm from being foreclosed on. The only way to do that is to load the grain you’ve harvested onto a horse-drawn wagon and drive it miles into town to sell at a fair price.
Except you have only a few wagons… and barely enough horses. And, to make the whole thing cost effective, you have to load the wagons to capacity.
And there’s a steep valley between you and town.
It goes down at a ridiculous grade on the near side, and then almost straight back up the other side. The wagon brakes aren’t strong enough to hold the load going down. And even if you do make it down safely, the horses aren’t strong enough to pull a full wagon up the other side.
This was the problem that a young man named Ralph Moody recounts having faced in his iconic book series, Little Britches. And, physics aside, Ralph was going to beat that hill.
So his Swedish friend — a big, unflappable man who was wonderful with horses — agreed to try something a little crazy. They loaded a wagon to the max, and his friend ran the horses right at the near drop-off.
He never touched the brakes, all the way down the hill. In fact, he did everything to urge the horses to go faster.
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