Thursday, December 19, 2013


Last week was mostly true: When my brother racked himself and then got launched into the ditch, the lariat slipped free of the saddle horn and the toboggan crashed to the ground, exploding into a gazillion pieces. Although Sham could jump like a jackrabbit, he did not jump the gate on that day.

Today, I am going to relate a series of incidents, all of which warrant recording for prosperity, but none of which are big enough to turn into a post on their own.

1. I read a historical account of Lady Godiva and decided to try riding my horse nekkid. Another time my sister and I rode from one part of town to the other, topless. Five of our nosey neighbors called my mother to complain about her daughters riding topless through town. My mother was mortified. BTW, I was 13 and built like a boy at the time. And yes, I do have an issue with keeping my clothes on. Especially when drinking tequila.

2. The summer of my fifteenth year, I started ponying race horses at the Fairgrounds/Race track in our city. I started the summer at 4'7" and had both incredible balance and very strong hands. I ponied four thoroughbreds before I started growing. At the end of that summer I was 5'6" tall and weighed over 100 pounds. My dream of being a jockey and winning the Kentucky Derby went right out the window. I spent the next twenty years trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life.

3. One day, bored, I followed my horse around and ate everything she ate. We sampled grass, corn husks, milkweed (incredibly bitter), carrots, beet tops, oats, dried corn and various weeds. I drew the line at the horse poop, however.

4. My brother and I decided it would be good practice for the yearly fall rodeo to ride our farmer's calves. He had four. We wrangled them into the corral and then balanced on top of a huge tractor tire the farmer had set on it's end, secured between two posts, as a place for the cows to itch themselves.  It was big enough the cows could walk or run through the opening in the tire. One of us would wait on the tractor tire and the other one would chase the calves through the tire. The one on top of the tire would drop down onto the back of the calf and try to stay on. We actually managed it several times, although we also ended up kicked in the stomach or chest as often as we landed. For some reason, though, the farmer wasn't happy with our game and made us stop.

5. I had a fascination with taking horses into buildings. I took all six of our horses into my family's house, standing four of them at the kitchen sink and taking the babies into the bedrooms. I rode my pony up and down the halls of the Elementary school. I once rode my horse down the hall of the Mormon church across the street from the elementary school. I rode my horse through the halls of our Jr High, into the gym where I cantered her in circles on the basketball floor. I never got caught.

6. We went through a knights and ladies phase, where we would make clothes out of material in our house, combined with gunny sacks from the pig feed. But it wasn't enough to just get dressed up, we also wanted to joust. We made shields out of trash can lids, swords out wooden sticks and jousting poles out of old broomsticks and boxing gloves. Galloping your pony while trying to bash your brother off the other pony with a moderately long stick that has a boxing glove on the other end was not the brightest thing we ever did. That time my brother ended up in the ER with stitches in his chin.

7. I was absolutely fascinated with Indians, the Lakota to be exact, and wished with all my heart to be able to ride the prairie and hunt buffalo. Actually, I still am. I decided at the age of 11 that I was going to learn to ride hanging off the side of my horse while shooting a bow and arrow from under his neck. I used baling twine (our stuff was made out of coarse hemp rope and could be used for a myriad of things) and braided it into the horse's mane (not an easy task). Then I spent countless hours trying to figure out how to hang with an arm through the loop, a heel hooked into the horse's flank on the offside (let me tell you, getting a horse used to that little trick took some doing) and then figure out how to draw and shoot a freaking bow under the horse's neck. Of course, this was made easier when we were able to trade the bows for our bb guns (yes, I was a well-armed child. We shot each other with bb guns all the time.) Oh, and we were riding the horses with just a loop of that coarse rope tied around their lower jaw with pieces of cloth hanging off (we had no feathers except chicken and using chicken feathers as coup feathers is just wrong.) That phase lasted until my little sister, who was the most accident prone person I have ever met, managed to miss the loop on the horse's neck, and took a header into the ground, snapping her elbow in the process. So many of our games ended that way.

8. I decided at about nine that I was going to figure out how to mount my horse the way the Lone Ranger did in the original TV show. (I watched all of the episodes!) The Lone Ranger, having thwarted some bad guy, would come running up behind his horse, jump up and slap his palms on the horse's butt, catapulting himself over the horse's rump and into the saddle. It takes a very tolerant horse for this to work. Not something I had. I was also vertically challenged for most of my childhood. Running up behind a horse, or in this case, pony, slapping both hands onto their rump while launching yourself in the air can have hilariously painful results. First, you can mistime your jump, which results in your crashing face first into the pony's rump. A mouthful of tail and a bruised nose was typical. Second, you can misjudge your jump, and instead of landing on the pony's back, you sprawl ungracefully over the top of the rump, hands trapped beneath you, while the pony crowhops away. Third, you can finally figure out how to time the hand slap and launch in such a way that you are actually airborne for your pony's back, at exactly the same time the pony takes two quick steps to one side, resulting in a belly flop in the dirt next to your pony. Said pony then spooks violently at the falling body. You, however, flop around in the dirt for the next two minutes trying to remember how to breathe. I think out of the hundred or so attempts at a flying mount, I managed two where I landed on his back, without hurting myself.

9. I once managed to lock myself in a suitcase. We were talking about going on vacation and hiding ourselves in a suitcase in order to fly without paying for a ticket. The locks on the suitcase jammed. It took almost an hour to get the suitcase open because the metal latches jammed and fused, requiring adult intervention to pry me out with a screwdriver. I am very claustrophobic as a result.

10. The town I grew up in holds an annual Little Buckaroo Rodeo, which has become very tame compared with the events we participated in. I was the first girl to compete. It was a scandal. I rode bucking ponies to the buzzer, steers (tossed at 4 seconds. Riding cows is just not my thing.), ran barrels, tied a goat, and pulled a ribbon off a pig. I got my first buckle for competing. That rodeo is still going on, but they don't seem to let the kids ride any animals but sheep now.


  1. I just wrote a big comment and I think it got deleted....

    2 - I fostered this same hope forever as a kid and young adult. Then I grew in HS and grew an additional inch in college to top out at 5'6" and my dreams were forever smashed. Now I figure my back-up career can be to be the double for the starring actress in horse films who cannot ride because I have the same body type to most people cast in those roles.

    5 - I have this fascination, too! Just no building to take a horse in yet. I do routinely take Griffin (especially) and Q (sometimes) into the tack room JUST BECAUSE.

    7 - OMG. I had a book as a kid that chronicled this little boy and his mustang. It talked about how he learned to ride in that manner. I vowed to do it but never did. Braiding the loop into the mane always baffled me.

    8 - I laughed. I laughed some more. And then I giggleSNORTed. I always thought about doing this but never did for reasons you listed.

    Aaahh childhood. I'm glad I'm still a child in many aspects haha!

  2. I agree with Lauren, these are awesome! I can't believe you got away with so much of this stuff! :)

  3. I laughed so hard at far too many of these because I did similar things...Thanks for such a great post!

  4. I love your stories!

    #1 LMAO...Omg, I once decided to ride my Paso bareback in running shorts and ended up with HIVES...I don't even want to think about riding naked!

    #2 I toyed with this idea until my boss and the owner of the tack shop in Tampa told me, when we were moving to South FL, "If you exercising Thoroughbreds at the track, call me and I'll find you a good safety vest." I thought it was pretty awesome that she just assumed I'd be interested in doing that (which I was but I had never mentioned) and at the same time it really made me think about the dangers of said thing. I was 26. It sucks to grow up!

    #3. Hilarious. I used to try all of my Paso's food before feeding him. Including his hay.

    #5. I had a fascination with riding horses on tracks. The first time I succeeded was when I rode my Paso Fino to school on a weekend and galloped him on the PE track. I still consider it one of the best rides I ever had on him!
    And check out Stacey's blog! She took her POA Mocha into her house!

    #7 I was always fascinated by that stunt in particular and always wished I had the body type to even dream of attempting it (I was overweight up until the time I was 16 and by then I already had a brain). Plus it doesn't work as well when your horse is gaited. But how BADASS that you got to attempt it! And with BB guns!!

    #8. What Liz said...giggle-snorted too! I had a boyfriend that once asked me if I'd ever tried it and was kind of upset when I told him no. I dared him to do it. He thought about it and passed. Hahahaha...

    You had the best childhood. Love this TTT series!!

    1. Yes, riding a horse naked is not for the faint of heart . . . the stupid, maybe. I had swelling and hives and hair places that no woman or girl wants any of those things . . . my action/consequence function of my brain didn't really develop until I was about 30. Thank god I survived myself.

      I am also very lucky that I only broke my arm, my SI joint, my left shoulder dislocated (partial separation) and a lisfranc fracture of my right foot during my childhood. Of those injuries, only the broken arm was treated. The rest were left to heal on their own. Still.

      I was about nine when I decided I would be a jockey when I grew up. If I had stayed small, I would have been awesome. I had exceptional balance and strong hands, but alas I grew. Now I'm pretty happy it didn't happen. Wish I could find my exceptional balance again. Thinking maybe it's playing with Peter Pan's shadow and I need to track it down.

    2. Your reference to Peter Pan's shadow made me grin from ear to ear. I can totally see what an amazing jockey you would have been. But then the story would have completely different. A good story, nonetheless, but a different one. I too am glad you survived all of your adventures! Thank you for sharing these stories with us!

  5. You crack me up. Hilarious. One year for Halloween I dressed up like lady Godiva (nude color body suit, fake boobs, blond wig and I even glued on pubic hair to my lower region (bad idea, it grossed me out) Jan went as my horse (rented the costume) :) ha ha If I ever find a picture I'll send it to you.

    Also. Now I can't breathe and I want to stretch my legs out. 1 hour in a suitcase is 59 minutes and 48 seconds too long. HOLY SHIT HOW DID YOU NOT DIE !

  6. OMG I love all those stories. I can't believe all the crazy things i did as a kid with horses, i'm happy to know i'm not the only one!