On Being Careful Around Horses
Your comments about this column are welcome ~ e-mail Frank at
founded 2004 by ron cruger
A place for intelligent writers
by Frank Shortt
A place for intelligent readers
2016 Spectator Ron - The Spectator All Rights Reserved
The Gilroy spring sunshine, always hottest in summer, began its ascent over
Pacheco Pass. Birds sang lullabies as I headed for the corral intending to do a little riding before settling in for the inevitable
work at hand. Ground squirrels were busy digging their burrows. Whistling a popular tune, I approached the corral with all the bloated
confidence of the young.
I had ridden those two horses all last summer. They
seemed as tame as lambs. Not one time did either throw me. I could curry them easily without getting kicked. Neither of them ever
shied away when saddled or bridled. I could easily walk all around either without getting a bruise. Both horses neighed a greeting
as if they remembered me from last fall. The neigh of a horse can be very deceiving!
“You be careful, those horses have been up all winter. They’re rarin’ to go, so they’ll be hard to ride, ‘specially Ole Brownie. You’ve
got to be a little stern with them for a while,” my father-in-law warned me as I meandered out to the corral.
“Aw, I ain’t afraid of those two old nags! They know who is boss around here!”
He smiled as I walked past him. As he smoked his pipe, the smoke drifted my way as a reminder that he knew what he was talking about.
He was an expert rider who knew horses, especially his own. He had been riding horses since he was knee-high to a grasshopper. He
could tell the age by looking at their teeth. He knew every habit, good or bad, that each of his horses had. It was said that he was
descended from the Vaqueros of Old Mexico.
I thought I knew more about riding
horses than even the owner of the horses. I could ride anything that I could saddle. I was a little tad macho in those days being
in my twenties. It was hard for me to admit that I did not know about something. I went straight to the corral just like a marten
to his box. The two steeds whinnied as I approached, eager to be out of the cramped up stable. They both looked quite energetic. ‘Ole
Brownie’ seemed to be the less skittish of the two so I chose him that morning.
I bridled and saddled ‘Ole Brownie’ without any mishap. He seemed a little nervous, but nothing I could not handle! This horse was
usually a little more high-strung than the other, but he always rode real easy after settling down, just like sitting in a rocking
I laughed vainly as I led Ole Brownie out to the yard.
“I will ride him just like I did at the end of last fall when we stabled him for the cold weather,” I thought.
This was my mistake!
As I mounted, Ole Brownie stiffened his legs, began rearing
up, fishtailing, lowering his head between his legs, and scampering around like a Billy goat! Before I knew it I was sitting astraddle
of some new blackberry vines my mother-in-law had planted. It was too late for caution. Ole Brownie was heading for the gate, and
My father-in-law smiled knowingly, once again, as I walked past him
on my way to pull the thorns out of my posterior. The smoke from his pipe drifted my way as a reminder to always listen to the one
who is the expert.