One thing this site has brought me is some good friends who I have never met in person. One such would be the lovely woman who writes the “Musings From A Tangled Mind” blog. (It’s wonderful, you should subscribe and read regularly.)
The other day she posted this, I went and made some smartass comment (as is my wont), she responded with a goofy answer, and we went back and forth (see the comments section on her post), I ended up saying, “I’ve got some old issues with horses…” and she ended up saying, “I can tell. LOL 😀 You should tell that story too. Cause now I’m curious.”
Ok, I can tell this story half asleep (the first full week at the new job has been wonderful, but the days are long and my sleep is short), so here’s one for you, Wendy:
I was maybe nineteen. I’m pretty sure I was out of my parents’ house by that time. We were all living in Orange County, California, they in Huntington Beach and I in Westminster, a couple of exits north on the 405 Freeway.
There came to pass a weekend trip out to Temecula. These days Temecula is a land of wineries and hot air balloons, but in the mid 1970’s it was a dusty, small town out in the middle of the desert. We went to visit some long lost relative of my father’s, possible a cousin.
My father came from the dirt farmers of southeast South Dakota, and with very few exceptions (my father being one of them) they’re still dirt farmers. Or at least they have a lot of dirt farmer blood in them. (And before anyone gets their knickers twisted over the term “dirt farmer,” I learned it from them and they wear it as a badge of honor and pride, not an insult.)
My father’s cousin had the sort of place you can still see out in the desert,but they’ve moved out a hundred miles or so as the urbanization and gentrification has taken over. Now you find places like this out in Anza, Mohave, and Agua Dulce.
Nothing paved. Dirt, dirt, and more dirt. A nice A-frame house, just fine for one person. Rough fences everywhere, made mostly of really old, weathered, skinny, broken tree trunks. Plus the odd cactus and wad of barbed wire.
I’m the oldest of eight kids (it’s not just the dirt that’s fertile in southeast South Dakota) and we were all there. It was hot as hell, we were (as usual) fighting all the way for the two hour drive out there, and there was nothing to do. I doubt he even had a television to distract us, and this is way, WAY before the days of smart phones, pocket game consoles, and DirecTv.
At some point, the cousin asks if we want to go horseback riding. Sure, a couple of us will give it a shot even though it’s slightly hotter than the surface of the sun out there. Why not? At least if we get heat stroke we’ll get to ride in a nice, air conditioned ambulance to a nice, air conditioned emergency room.
Out to the barn and there are two horses. The first is named something like “Widowmaker T-Rex” and he looks a lot like those red-eyed, fire-breathing beasts the Ring Wraiths rode in the Lord of the Rings movies. The second is an old, old, old swayback mare who had three hooves already in the glue factory.
My youngest sister, who was ten or eleven at the time, walks up to the pawing, rearing, hell demon of a beast and starts petting its nose and the demon beast says, “Ooooh, yeah, that feels good! Right there. A little more towards that ear. Yes, right there!”
She mounts up, having to my knowledge never been on a horse in her life, and ten minutes later is doing moves like she’s trying out for the Olympic dressage team.
I’m her big brother, I can’t let her show me up!
I start to mount up, have problems, but eventually get on the swayback mare. Who sees demon beast prancing around out in the yard and sees her chance. She takes off like a bat out of hell out of the barn, through the corral, and toward the road. Freedom! Sweet freedom! Let my people go! With a hearty heigh-oh silver, away!
I’m clinging to her neck for dear life. As we head off down the road and I’m considering something stupid (like jumping off head first into some cactus while she’s running at top speed) or even more stupid (like trying to regain control – after all, I am the 19-year-old male human full of testosterone, right?) I hear in the distance, fading behind me, my father’s cousin yelling, “Just let her go and don’t fall off. She’ll come back home eventually on her own!”
Eventually she did, forty-five minutes to an hour later, with me still clinging to her neck for dear life and hurting in places that I didn’t know I had places.
There’s only one thing that could make it worse. Well, make that seven things, as in my brothers and sisters. The teasing was merciless.
Meanwhile, the swayback mare has had her fun and is now home, ready for a nap. She heads to the barn, through the corral – where my eight-and-a-half-years-younger-than-I sister is still practicing dressage, yelling”Isn’t this cool! You should try it!”
Absolutely 100% (which equals 80% to 85% here) true, I swear.