In reply to a story someone else told on a board I am on, I wrote this. Thought some of you might enjoy it.
The hardest lessons are the ones we remember the best.
I had taken a “colt” to break for a lady. Saddlebred, she told me, with pride. When I first got on him, remember this was before I’d ever heard of Ray Hunt or Tom Dorrance, he just stood there. Plumb gentle giant. did I mention he stood about 16 hands? So I’d tip his nose to try and untrack him. At this time in my life I had been taught to not wear spurs on a colt, the first few rides. I’d tip (and was really getting a “soft feel” but I didn’t know anything about a soft feel at that time) . Tip and thump, thump, thump, with my heels’/calves of my legs. Nothing. So I look around and see a big 2 inch rubber hose about 2 feet long. Aha! A nice quirt!
I get back on and again ask him with my legs, tip his nose and nothing is working so gently tap him with said hose. His head comes up a little and you can see there is a tiny little light going on in the small brain area. But it still isn’t registering. So a little harder thump on the butt and he almost moved. Leaned real good! So one more, harder, tap and he actually moved his feet at least one step. I soon found that it wasn’t the thump so much as the “whoosh” sound of air coming out of the hose that made him move. I only explain this to show you how gentle and slow this horse was.
Fast forward a week or so. We are making progress. He has learned to move off my legs in a forward fashion and turn somewhat from the signal of the reins. I need to go up west and get the horses in. So we lope up every hill and walk down the other side, as he is acting a bit more frisky than usual. We finally find the horse up the creek and start them back. I didn’t just bust him into a run as he’s acting quite a bit more frisky. Did I mention it takes me about a week to get this horse to stop, at this point in his career?
We get them going, but they are drifting too far north so I am trotting to get up to turn them which only make them go faster. Finally we achieve a lope and there is a pucker mark in the seat of my saddle, but we are doing great!
About then we top a gentle slope and get to the top and the other horses are leaving me, and ol’ stupid is wanting to join up with them, so I go to hauling on the reins. Evidently he decided he could get there faster if he loped higher. Next thing you know we are taking great big, high leaps, in a very fast forward motion and I can only handle about so many of them before I take a swan dive right over the point of his right shoulder (I always went over the right shoulder. Still not sure why?) I hit, hurt, bounce and roll for what seemed like about a quarter of a mile. Don’t remember now what all I skinned and bruised, but it must have been a lot as I still vividly remember this, 40 some years later.
I get up, walk back a quarter of a mile, pick up my hat and put it on and by then I can kind of see where I am and remember what caused this, as for a bit there every thing was dark and fuzzy, seems like. Find my horse, who hasn’t gotten too far away. Get him caught and very carefully get on and ride home. Took the pickup and went and got the horses in so I could catch my broke horse, which had been my intentions all along. (They had almost followed me home, dirty pups!)
Later Dad asked about some stain on my clothes or a rip or some outward sign of my fun so I told him about it. He said, “Hell, I’ve always told you to never try to gather horse on a colt!”
Up until then, I had forgotten that. I never have since!
Yup, the hardest lessons are the ones that stick with you the longest. 🙂