Before we get started let’s set the record straight, No Horses Were Harmed in the course of this wreck or any other horse wreck I share with you. So please!!!! If you are an animal rights extremist and can’t find the slightest humor in the horse coming out on the winning end of a good wreck then just stop reading right now, PLEASE!!
On the other hand, if you’ve had a few good horse wrecks in your life and enjoy hearing about somebody else being on the receiving end for a change, I’m your huckleberry!
Green As Grass
Now a little backstory, when I got my first horse there wasn’t internet, no cell phones, and it was a time when trainers didn’t share their trade secrets. To top it all off I grew up in town and had not sat a horse until I was able to have my own as a young man. I had just gotten out of the Marine Corps and settled in Northern California. I found a little horse boarding outfit west of Concord, CA out at the end of a little country road called Morgan Territory Rd at the base of Mt. Diablo.
I had located a good old fashion “horse trader” (had no clue what that implied back then), and picked out a big, soggy 3 year old sorrel gelding. Of course I didn’t know the first thing about riding so no test ride, just paid the man and he delivered it to the stable the next Saturday.
Spoiler alert, I had no idea this horse hadn’t even been started and all I had to go on were the westerns I watched as a kid, you just saddle up and away you go, right? Well I was in awe, this youngster looked like a shiny copper penny, beautiful! I imagined the hours he and I would spend riding Mt. Diablo, the adventures we would have discovering hidden hideouts of old bandits from back in the day!
So I break out my ten dollar saddle pad and my seventy-five dollar saddle (ugh!) and I get the saddle on him. It doesn’t go too bad although he did hop around for a bit like a frog on the end of my lead rope but it didn’t last long and I thought it looked kind of cool. Once he settled down I got my bridle and rein set I bought at the local feed store for about forty bucks, you know, the kind that come with the “free” curb bit (ugh again). Well, with a little coaxing I got the bit in his mouth and the headstall over his ears and he only smashed me in the face once during the whole procedure, not bad!
And Away We Go!
Now comes the moment of truth, my maiden voyage, the beginning of living the dream I held dear for years, of being a bonafide cowboy! My plan was to ride down the long lane, cross the county road and enter the park area at the base of the mountain and hit the trail, I had no idea how much “hitting the trail” could hurt.
I get my foot in the stirrup while holding my left rein a little short and the horse starts to spin in a tight circle which kind of worked out cause it sorta helped me just spin right up into the saddle. I get my foot in the stirrup on the off side and point him down the lane. He locks up tighter than “Ole Dick’s hatband” so I give him the classic kick, kick, kick with both heels and away we go!
Now lucky for me this colt had a long, thick mane, and luckier still I had me a fist full of it with one hand and my reins in the other. At first he bolts, maybe 20-30 yards and then all of a sudden his head completely disappears and he goes into giant frog leaps, I’m thinking in that “nano-second” I’m a natural, look at me riding this bucking horse (course he was frog walking, not bucking, but I had no point of reference you see).
Houston We Have A Problem
Well in our frog walking demonstration we covered the length of the long old lane coming into the place, but at about the last forty yards he bolts again and as we’re approaching the paved county road at break neck speed I’m trying to see if there were any cars coming cause I’m under the distinct impression he’s not stopping at the road! All I can say about what happened next is that it was a good thing I was young, fresh out of the military and nothing but bone and muscle from head to toe, because when he got to the end of the lane and saw that shiny looking pavement which for all I know he mistook as water, he locks it up and gives one mighty buck and sends me airborne! I cleared the entire width of the road with room to spare, I flipped completely over (I still remember the East German judge only scoring me a 4-just think on it, it will come to you #olympicgymnast), and landed, skidding on my back down the embankment.
He was waiting for me at the barn when I got myself gathered up and made my way back up the lane. I walked up to him and caught the reins, rubbed him on the neck and said, “Good ride, let’s do this again tomorrow!” That horse and I spent two years together and I survived many a hard lesson, but we did finally come to an agreement and covered some miles. I eventually sold him to a buddy of mine that I didn’t particularly care for, if you get my meaning. (Humor People!)