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Riding Wild Horses
~~not for sissies~~

by Maxine Sommers


When you live in Texas during the summer months stunning heat is your constant companion. How do I rectify this problem? Simple: each May I lock my house, pack my car and drive north across the country towards the wilds of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The area is blessed with cool weather and is covered with lush forests filled with a wide variety of magnificent, towering trees. There are miles of two lane country roads which skirt well kept farms that are worked with both modern machines and horses.

Driving by a neighboring farm one morning I came upon a large field filled with grazing work horses. I got out of the car and walked to the corral fence. For the most part, the horses claim to fame seemed to be their size: exceptionally big. That is with one exception, a young mare—who was delicate in appearance and radiating natural beauty.

She was light brown in color, had a white stripe on her nose and the most gorgeous thick, blonde mane and long blonde eyelashes you could imagine. (I named her Dolly Parton immediately.)

Since my house was located near their pasture, on occasion I stopped by to visit Dolly. One day I asked the owner if I could take a short ride on one of his smaller horses.

“Sure, we do have one small black horse, but he’s wild. His name is Bob, and you’ll need to be careful not to spook him . . . do you think you can handle him?"

“Not to worry," I exclaimed, and while trying to look like a country girl I added, “I have never fallen off a horse.” I neglected to mention I had only been on a horse on two occasions.

The next question followed: “Do you know how to put a saddle on?” the man inquired.

“Oh sure,” was my quick reply. “I can do that!”

Before he could change his mind, I picked up the saddle and slid it over Bob’s back. (No small feat since he was dancing around and looking at me with shifty eyes.) After checking the cinch and with a quick leg up, off I went.

Bob began at a slow trot with me sitting smartly in the saddle. Relishing my new sense of accomplishment and feeling brave, I gave good ol’ Bob a slight touch of encouragement with the heel of my boot. It was at that moment I discovered Bob had two speeds, slow and fast . . . nothing in between. Bob shifted into FAST.

Across the pasture we galloped at the speed of sound. It began to rain, the wind came up and the saddle began to slide sideways. Now picture this: I was no longer upright; the saddle (with me in it) was slowly sliding down towards the ground. Clutching the reins for dear life, I was actually riding on the side of horse with only one boot in a stirrup. The other leg was loose and pointing straight up in the air, my body no more than 4 inches from the muddy ground. I realized if I let go of the reins I would be dragged for a while with Bob’s hooves making mincemeat of me. Fearing I could not hold on another second, I lost my cool — like any damsel in distress — and I shouted: “HELP! HELP! HELP!”

Hearing my shouts, two of the hired hands ran out of the barn, jumped up on their horses and began a fast gallop towards me. I thought, “Just like the old movies, will I be saved in time?” Sure enough, cut off by one of the riders, Bob came to an abrupt halt which caused me to let go of the reins and get tossed smack-dab into a large puddle of muddy water directly in front of the run-away-horse — what a sorry sight that was. Believe it or not, as I lay there flat on my back, covered with dirt, small sticks and mud, my hero jumped off his horse, leaned over me and said, “Are you dead?” After considering the question I answered, “I can’t swear to it, but—I don’t think so.”

With that he turned to wild-eyed Bob who was stomping and snorting and seemed to be enjoying the excitement of the whole experience. My hero, the farm hand, examined the culprit’s saddle. “Oh, Boy!” he exclaimed in disbelief, “whoever put this saddle on did not tighten the cinch.”

I managed to get up and limp across the field towards the safety of my car while the men were discussing the saddle snafu. Did I want to get involved in any discussion regarding the dumb woman who put the saddle on? NO!

My hero laughed as he shouted across the field to me: “When do you want to come back to ride ol’ Bob again?” I replied, “When pigs fly!"

That was the last time I stopped to visit Dolly and Bob.

The lesson learned, you ask? Well, forget my plans for returning to Texas to become a trick rider in a rodeo. And finally, I think it’s safe to say I have given up riding wild horses.


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A Texan and veteran travel writer, Maxine Sommers may be reached at this e-mail address: CLICK HERE

Please write Sommers for permission to reprint this article.

~ Read more of her travel articles at USADEEPSOUTH ~
Montgomery, Alabama ~ The Cradle of the Confederacy
Black Bear Treasures in the Smokies
Looking for Southern Hospitality


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