I really wasn’t out to prove anything last Thursday; I just wanted to take my daughter’s new horse for a little ride before she got on to make sure everything was all right. Dixie, the 5-year-old paint mare does not look anything like the Lone Ranger’s silver stallion, but she did a great impersonation of his “Hi-ho Silver, away!” stance on two hind-legs. I just was not ready for it, and when she flipped all the way over backwards, I could not believe this was really happening.
It is not that I am inexperienced with horses, maybe just a bit rusty. I grew up racing ponies across the pasture and jumping ditches for fun. Somewhere there is still a shelf lined with fun-show trophies I won barrel-racing, flag racing, pole bending, and all-around good-time having.
I never had much fear of horses and my first words as a young equestrian were not “whoa” or “easy” — they were “faster, faster.” First, there was Trixie, the fat little Shetland that could really fly if the reins were let loose. I remember she liked to twist the bit between her teeth so I had no control over stopping her, and then she would take off like a bat out of blank and head for the barn. There was no stopping at the barn door either. It was good I was a skinny little thing at the time, because we often sailed through the barn door at a pretty good clip. There was no stopping that pony, and I loved her for it.
My second horse, Dusty, was a middle-sized, part Arab, sorrel gelding that loved to race the wind down Kansas hedgerows. He and I also won several of those fun show trophies and I spent many happy afternoons aboard his back exploring creeks and forgotten field roads. I don’t remember falling off him ever, except maybe that one time I fell asleep reading a book while on his back. I landed with a thump below him but he was kind enough not to step on me.
I also remember riding a golden mare for a friend who wanted her exercised one summer when I was a bit older. I can’t remember the name of the horse, but I do remember a wild ride down a country road when the curb strap broke and she was going full tilt towards an intersecting highway. What is a country girl to do? Well, I bailed off into the ditch and held on to the reins, eventually pulling her to stop, fixed the strap, and climbed back on for the ride home. It was a very surprised bystander who saw me coming back down the farm drive covered in mud, but the horse certainly got her exercise that day.
There were a few other notable horses in my life through the years, like Buck, my high school and college barrel horse who lived up to his name at the start of every session. There was Pats a wonderful trail mare, and Cricket, Rosebud, and Pretty. But none of them ever tried to do a movie star impersonation like dear Dixie did to me last week.
It’s funny how many things flash through your mind when the possibility of death or serious injury seems unavoidable. As Dixie began the rapid descent down over the top of me, all I could do was pray. And God heard me. Dixie’s full weight came crushing down on me for only an instant. As the small of my back and my head hit the ground, the saddle horn slammed into my upper thigh muscles. Dixie rolled to the left, sprang up, and took off running. I lay in the middle of the oat field wondering how bad it was going to be if I moved. There was no doubt I hurt! Since it didn’t appear that anyone else in my family was going to hear my wobbly yell for help, I slowly rolled over and tried to get up. Pain like fire shot through my leg and my eyes were swimming, but gloriously nothing seemed broken! I was able to get up from that crazy Lone Ranger fiasco and walk, a bit more like drag and shuffle, but all parts worked and I was so thankful.
A week later I still hurt, my leg is more black and blue than normal, but it is all a very colorful reminder of how lucky I feel. Thank God for small miracles because I know I experienced one. It seems that everyone I’ve talked to about the incident has friends or relatives who have gone through similar circumstances but emerged with broken bones, concussions, and life-changing injuries. I am so thankful I am up and walking around. But I am definitely working on the horse-riding vocabulary now. It is going to be all “whoa” and “easy” ... no more “faster, faster” for a long time. I am done with that. And I have no future aspirations to ever impersonate the Lone Ranger again.