So the first horse I tried out turned out to be a lemon. There was nothing for it but to keep on trying. The right horse just had to be out there.
The next horse that arrived at the ranch was a friendly-looking mare. The initial stages of saddling and mounting all went well enough. I was feeling pretty positive.
As luck would have it, once again I was going to be riding down the creek. I don’t remember the details, but I imagine we’d missed some cattle and we were just checking the pasture again. The difference was that this time Scott would be riding with me.
By my calculations I was nine at the time, which would make Scott five. Probably not quite old enough to manage one of the nags on his own, which meant he had to ride behind me on my horse. I wasn’t thrilled about it and I bet Scott wasn’t either. Who wants to spend the day staring at his brother’s back?
Once I was mounted up I rode up close to the corral fence where Scott had climbed up and was waiting for me. I got the horse up beside the fence and he jumped on. She didn’t seem all that pleased with the extra passenger but neither did she buck him off so we were good to go.
We started down the creek while everyone else spread out to cover their areas. It wasn’t all that comfortable for Scott, riding behind the seat, kind of half on the edge of the saddle and half off, with his legs dangling down over her flanks.
I figured out early on that this wasn’t one of those horses with a fast walk. Maybe it was the extra passenger or maybe she was just a bit lazy, but she really plodded along, just taking her time.
Which really wouldn’t have mattered to me at all, but I knew I had to be at the meeting point pretty close to when Dad got there or I’d hear about it. So, after a while I spurred the mare into a trot, you know, to make up for lost time.
And that’s when it happened.
The horse began to trot. Scott’s feet, without any stirrups to hold them, began to flop, effectively kicking the mare in the flanks over and over.
Which she did not like one bit.
Three or four of those, she just kicked up her heels…
And Scott went flying off.
He squawked and went sailing through the air and landed in the sand.
I stopped the horse and went back for him. Once I saw that he was okay, I started laughing and that’s when he got mad.
Which I would have been mad too. I just got bucked off a horse and there’s my brother up there laughing at me? I would’ve thrown rocks.
Well there was nothing to it but to find a spot where he could get back on. I wasn’t strong enough to help him on and he was too small to reach my stirrup and pull himself on. We had to find a big rock that he could climb up on and then I maneuvered the horse in close enough that he could jump on.
Once he was on, she gave him a look like, We won’t be having any more of that funny business, will we?
But what else could we do? Now I was even further behind schedule. I tried getting her to walk faster, but that didn’t help. Finally, after warning Scott to hold on, I kicked her back into a trot.
Scott’s heels flopped around, her heels flew up in the air, and Scott went sailing once again.
Being a tough, hardheaded sort (which you kind of had to be out there on the ranch), and since we were in the creek, Scott wasn’t hurt. Other than his pride.
I of course made it worse by laughing even harder this time. He yelled at me, he yelled at the horse, and we started looking for another place he could climb up and get on.
“You just have to hold on tighter,” I told him.
Telling him that didn’t make him any happier and it didn’t work either.
I spurred the mare into a trot, Scott kicked her in the flanks, and she kicked him off.
She must have bucked him off a dozen times that morning. Scott got to where he was so mad he couldn’t see straight. He yelled at me, I yelled back at him, and then when we arrived very late to the meeting point, Dad yelled at both of us.
That was the end of that horse.
(Note: It was about the fifth horse that I found Cortez, a pretty little bay mare with a soft mouth and gentle gaits. She had a bad habit of kind of freaking out whenever I tightened her cinch, but other than that she was a great horse.)