Rolling on an overturned boat of leather, warm breathing waves between your legs, smelling musty hair and moist wool with deep rumbles of a creature 200 times your size. The experience of riding a horse as a child. I was placed upon a steed before I could walk. Granted, I chose not to walk until I was two years old but I do remember riding a Shetland pony at my maternal Grandfather’s rehab ranch. He would also hitch the pony to a small cart for me to tool around the yard. He was raised on a stockmen’s ranch in Iowa, they breed and trained animals to be sold to other farmers and traveling shows.
Once Grandpa placed me on a regular sized horse I refused to return to the Shetland. I loved horses. I was only scared twice. The first time was when the chestnut mare was giving birth and having a difficult delivery. Grandpa had to get into the pen with her and I thought the baby was killing her. I cried and Gramps told me to hush. She was such a nice horse that I was angry at the colt. All turned out well and I befriended the colt.
The most frightening experience involved a skittish Arabian. I was six years old and walking it in the driveway, as I had done before. Beautiful animal but it slipped on a piece of loose dirt and began to buck. I couldn’t get it to stop so I dropped the reins and gripped the saddle horn. I knew enough not to yell and spook the horse into frenzy. It could have galloped onto a nearby road and harmed or killed both of us. Grandpa heard the commotion and ran over to grasp the reins. I jumped off and staggered to the house. I was bruised from hitting the saddle with my thighs and buttocks. The breath was knocked out of me with my hands, arms, neck and shoulders hurting.
Grandpa calmed down the horse and came in to check on me. I was upset. I’d never been on a horse that bucked more than twice. I was rattled and shaking. He said that I had to ride the horse again. No way, no how, I protested. Gramps must be crazy. He said that the horse was certainly more scared than me. If I didn’t do it right away I would probably be afraid of horses for the rest of my life. I cursed him and he cursed back. He gripped my arm and led me to the horse. He lifted me up into the saddle, grabbed the bridle, and walked us around the yard. Both the horse and I were shaking. I truly learned what the phrase “Get back on the saddle again” means. You have to face your fear or it will haunt you.
I rode horses on his farm until he had to sell it due to overwhelming emphysema. I was irate because I was finally old enough to buy a horse and train it. I wanted to be a barrel racer and participate in the 4-H Horse Show. I was quite bitter that he had to get rid of the farm. I inherited my grandfather’s favorite saddle, Posse hat, and a couple of his leather satchels. I oil the saddle yearly and keep it away from the curious cats. It has nominal value since it was not a high-grade saddle. The smell reminds me of Grandpa. He was born 100 years too late. He never fit in with modernity and would have been happier as a cowboy instead of a farmer.
The night I placed a bid on my house I dreamt that I converted the one car garage into a two-horse stall. Impossible to do in town, plus, they are terribly expensive and take a lot of time to maintain. I herd cats instead. We are distant relatives of William Cody, aka Buffalo Bill Cody, and have relatives who run a small rodeo. I considered going on the road with the rodeo but opted to attend college, alas, another missed opportunity. Mmm, dusty cowboys…
© 2012 Ima B. Musing