I attended Lamar Community College, in Lamar Colorado. The course was called Horse Training and Management. During our freshman year we were all assigned a colt to ride, some turned out better than others. It was a learning experience, and I suspect that some of us learned better than others! During my sophomore year a couple of buddies ((Guy and Marc) and I had some extra time during the day.
Looking back I just cannot imagine how that could have been possible!?!?! I mean we were serious academic scholars! There wasn’t a night we didn’t spend studying and aspiring to be academiens. See there? I learnt enough to make up my own word (Microsoft word does not recognize it, so it surely is not a word yet!)! Academiens, I haven’t decided what this means yet….something about a person being smart and studying….need to think on this for a while. I will need to submit it to Websters as soon as possible. I wouldn’t want anyone else to take credit for my word. HA!
Anyway, back to the story. During this free time we were offered a ¼ credit extra to ride some extra freshman colts. Of course we jumped at the chance! The only caveat was that the instructor (McBee was his name and I would think there would be some stories about him sometime in the future.) would not ride let us ride them in the arena with the freshman. He said we could start out in the round pen, but we had to ride them outside. We all hesitated at this…..for about as long as it takes to blink and said “ok”. We were sophomores and our training skill was far and above the need to ride in the arena. We only would need the round pen for the first couple of rides anyway. Wasn’t that the way God intended for cowboys to ride horses anyway? Out in the open, with plenty of space? Nothing to stop or slow down forward progress?
The horses were another story. One was a pony, which Guy and I voted for Marc to have. They were built a lot alike. Low, wide and close to the ground! That pony was hilarious. Marc was pretty close to the ground anyway, but even his legs got him almost to the ground when he sat on its back. Of course being the loving, respectful guys that we were….Marc got harassed about the size of his horse after a little while. By that I mean as soon as he got on the pony’s back, we started harassing. If you have never seen a pony lope, you should…especially a two year old! That pony moved like he couldn’t bend his legs and bounced Marc all over the saddle! He loped around the round pen like he was on the side of a hill, always leaning to the inside! But Marc persevered and eventually the pony started traveling upright; actually having a pretty good handle!
Guy and I flipped for the others and I got a little sorrel filly. My and Guys colts were pretty uneventful. A big difference from the yella mare, but that is a story for another time. Mine was also pretty uneventful. We rode in the round pen for about three days and turned ourselves out on the trails. We got pretty fast at times but, by the end of two weeks all three of the colts were handling pretty nice (a further testament to the vast horse training skill we had at the time). When things are going pretty well, you tend to get a little lax (or cocky in our case). You remember I said my colt was pretty uneventful? This is where it got eventful!
We were riding down a trail one day and we noticed a plastic Wal-Mart type bag on the ground. And being the good stewards of the land that we were, we drew straws to see who would pick it up. I lost. No problem, I was very confident (I think that meant that I was overconfident) in the colt I was riding. So I just stepped off, dropped the reins and picked up the bag. If you’ve ever been to Lamar, then you know the wind blows….a lot! About that time a particularly hard gust blew up and rattled that bag in my hands. I did not have time to see if that scared Guy and Marc’s colts because mine was leaving the area at a very high rate of speed. At this point, my ego kicked in. I knew one of the things that would bring a considerable amount of grief was getting bucked off your horse. I also knew that my fine upstanding friends would lie like crazy and say that I had been bucked off and no amount of explanation would be considered as the truth.
So, I just grabbed the saddle horn and swung onto that sorrel colt. I am now sitting on this colts back, trying to get my feet in the stirrups and gather my reins in at the same time. To compound all of this, Sorrelly was running like her tail was on fire. The handles of the bag had slipped up my arm, past my elbow and was a floppin’ and poppin’ behind my shoulder….adding to the excitement of me scrambling with my feet and hands. I felt like I was trying to lower a sail on a boat, during a hurricane. I didn’t know which one of these things to address first. Should I concentrate on getting my feet in the stirrups first, to help me stay on top of this ducking and dodging coyote I was riding….or should I gather up my reins to that I could pull this run-away locomotive in a circle….or get rid of the bag that was flangling around behind my back. We went for what seemed like miles….well ok, only couple hundred yards or so; before I gathered enough reins to pull her into a circle. As soon as I had her slowed down to light speed, I shucked that bag like I was letting go of a snake!
Needless to say, there was considerable harassing going on at the barn. But, I was not bucked off…just ran away with. This in turn saved my friends virtue; they did not have to tell lies about why I might have had to walk back to the barn. There’s a statement that I bet was never said when it comes to my friends….saving their virtue!
This whole story leads to this thought…..if you want to build a Kentucky Derby winner, you can start a Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart can provide you the tools to make any horse run faster!