My nephew just went off to college and I told him not to do anything I wouldn’t do. Then I thought better of that, there wasn’t much that I didn’t do! So I told him to be safe instead! It did bring to mind some more stories of my college years, looking back it is pretty funny …but my buddy Matt probably didn’t think so at the time.
Matt, Rod and I ran around together a lot. Matt being the oldest, he was the designated purchaser. He collected the cash we had (if we had any!) and went to the liquor store. He generally led Rod and I down a path of destruction by contributing to the delinquency of us minors. Well, ok, we were already a couple of delinquents before we me Matt. But once Matt was involved in the mix, it was Katy bar the door! There are a lot of stories I could tell on the three of us, and I will tell some more in the future (statute of limitations and all).
Once we were cruising around trying to come up with enough cash to have a party and we saw this girl that Rod was sweet on (well ok, we thought she might have some money to contribute to the cause). She boarded her horses just down from Rod’s house so we stopped in. The guy that owned the place had Shetland ponies, and if I remember right he drove them as teams, but did not ride them. So when we got there Rod very subtly started talking to the girl about a party. By subtly, I mean, he said “do you want to come to a party?” She told him to take a flying leap so we started disparaging the ponies.
I think the owner got a little miffed and the girl started egging us on to ride one of them. (Looking back, I can see an evil process going on that I missed then). She told us she would buy a case of beer for each one that we rode. Boy, the lights went on for us. I, mean, come on! How hard could these little rascals buck? Heck, we were so confident that we decided to make it a little more fair and wouldn’t even saddle them! Well her eyes lit up and she thanked us for being fair minded. (Good golly, I believe we were set up!)
Catching them was fairly easy, the owner had 8 or 9 of them and we were giddy with the thought of that much liquid pleasure. We thought we would ride these dinky little things within a couple hours and back at Rod’s before night fall! (Oh, I laugh now….)
We caught the first one and Matt jumped up and said he would go first. Now looking back that was probably fortuitous for Rod and I, but at the time we were a little bummed. But we thought we should all be able to ride three each, what the heck….let him go first. Matt was about 6’4”, so he had a lot more leg than he had pony underneath him. But he was game, so he stepped over that Shetland and sat down.
What happened next is hard to say. There are rumors that a spaceship came and zapped that pony with some kind of ray gun. It turned that seemingly gentle little critter into a jumping, pitching, snapping, snarling buckin’ machine! He bucked so hard and fast that when Matt went off over his head, he pulled the bridle off with him. He was slammed into the V between the ground and a big wooden feeder. At that moment we got a lesson in physics….cowboy physics anyway! When a moving object comes into contact with two immovable objects, something has to give. Unfortunately for Matt, it turned out to be his shoulder.
All of this happened so fast that we did not know Matt had messed up his shoulder; Rod and I were involved with the time honored cowboy tradition of raggin’ Matt about getting bucked off this little tiny horse! We were hootin’ and hollerin’, just carrying on like a couple of idiots. Of course the girl was right there with us, giving it to Matt for all she was worth. He had not hardly stopped moving before we were right there, trying to get the bridle from him so that we could have our turn. When Matt got up, he couldn’t lift one arm and he had a big bulge on top of his shoulder. Of course that sobered us up pretty quick, we decided that it would probably be in his best interest to get him back to the dorms and doctored up with some aspirin. That’s right…I said aspirin. Turns out Matt had torn his rotator cuff (I think I remember that right…). He had surgery that next summer.
Of course riding the ponies again was out of the question; the owner was worried about a lawsuit and wouldn’t let us back on the place. We were willing and able (the prize was still on our minds), but the opportunity passed. So no party happened that night and Matt did a considerable amount of whining. I mean come on, we gave him aspirin!
Like I said, it was fortuitous that Matt rode first. It probably saved Rod and I from some form of injury. Fortuitous is a big old word and if you look up the definition, it fits well.
Fortuitous: happening by lucky chance