I grew up in a family that all grew up on ranches working cows and horses. My mother grew up in western South Dakota during the depression and WWII and on into the fifties and on. Riding was a way of life and during this time she broke a bunch of Shetland ponies to ride. She told me later that they were a pain to break.
During this time the movies were also the big entertainment of the time, western movies especially. My mom did all the trick riding that you would see them doing in the movies back then. She would take off on a lope with the horse and drop down on one side and hit the ground with both feet the momentum bouncing her across to the other side where it was repeated until she decided to land in the saddle. She would also do what can best be described as handstands on the horse while it loped in a circle. To do this she would lean across the saddle till face down on one side and holding on to the saddle horn and straps on the back of the saddle and then put her feet straight up in the air, doing an effective handstand, as the horse would lope around the corral. I watched her do all this stuff in the old home movies we had. You remember the old 8mm movies of the day? This was eons before video and digital videos.
Well of course after hearing these stories about trick riding and seeing mom do them on the movies I had to try it. I talked to my best friend Max about it and he thought it was a great idea also. So with the thought planted and getting watered everyday it was growing it was only a matter of time till we had to try it.
The day came and we got our horse out to do our tricks on, well guess what the only one that was available for me was H-bomb. I looked at him dismayed I just knew he was going to try and kill me. But if we were going to do this we had to use him. We got smart, a first I know, and never left the corral. We figured that way there was less room for them to run away.
Max went first on his nag he got her loping around the corral at a nice slow pace and he got both feet on one side and his head on the other and miracles of miracles he did a head stand hanging on the side of the horse. I just stood there dumb founded I couldn’t believe it. He even managed to get back down and in the saddle. Miracles never cease.
Well it was my turn so I kicked H-bomb in to a lope and we go round and round and round. Max yelled if I was going to do it or not, or was I chicken. Well I knew I had to do it or I would never live it down so I get laid across the saddle and I grab the horn and the straps and I manage to get my legs in the air. I was doing it, I was doing it, huh oh, huh oh, I could feel my legs going on over. I tried to stop them and get them back up but it was to no avail. I went on over and off landing on the ground on my back with a thump.
“Am I dead” I managed to squeak out.
“Nah, you’re fine, now get up and quit lying around” was the response I got out of Max; lots of sympathy there.
I got back up and of course there stood H-bomb just looking at me like he was a sleep. I walked over and got back on and away we went again. I tried it again and guess what, I had the same results.
“Am I now dead” I asked.
“Nope, you’re not very good at that are you?” Max said.
Well I got back up and there stood H-bomb, surprise. The one time I wanted him to run away and there he stood, dang. I got back on but I wasn’t going to try that again so this time I decided to do the bouncing thing.
I got him going again and I got down on his left side hanging on the saddle with my feet about a foot off the ground as we went around the corral, I swallowed and dropped my feet down and before I knew it I was back up and sitting in the saddle. It worked; holy crap it worked. Yahoo I yelled and ripped my hat off and threw it in the air.
I thought this worked so good I stopped and got my hat and we did it again, this time I bounced all the way to the other side and then back to the saddle. This is great, something I could actually do and H-bomb was actually behaving.
Max and I congratulated each other on what we accomplished. I could do the bouncy thing and he could do the head stand thing. So every time we when riding for the next few weeks we kept practicing and we actually got good at it.
Another rodeo was coming up, remember in Wyoming in the summer there are rodeos every weekend somewhere. So we were entered in the next rodeo and when the weekend came around we headed out.
Of course I was going to try calf roping again and on H-bomb, besides the bull riding. Every since the first rodeo when I got walked all over by a bull and H-bomb jumped out from under me in the calf roping I have been working his butt off and he was better at it now. How dumb can I get?
Anyway we are at the rodeo and the first day went fairly well, I actually managed to catch the little bugger and get a time, I know my grandmother could have do it faster, but hey I caught the little bugger and got a time, I was happy.
The next day we were at it again and my turn came up for the roping. I get H-bombs big butt backed into the chute, get the rope tucked, looked at the calf and this time I did nod and we were off. H-bomb caught that calf in about three jumps, a lot faster than I could get my rope in action but after a second of hesitation I got that rope out and around the little buggers’ neck. H-bomb slammed on the brakes and I jumped off and threw the calf to the ground made three fast loops around his feet and jumped back with my arms in the air, TIME.
I was dumbfounded I had actually did it and as I sat there listening I heard the announcer tell the crowd I had done it in 16 seconds. I was ecstatic I was actually in the money.
I felt so good I decided to show off and show them the trick riding I had learned. I turned H-bomb around and loped back and as I was doing this I got down on his left side and I did the bouncy thing to the other side and back. The crowd loved it so I decided to do it one more time and I got down hit the ground and when I was going over H-bombs back with my legs struck straight out behind me he slammed on the brakes.
I shot over his head like I had been shot out of cannon landing about ten feet out in front of him. I didn’t want to move I could hear the crowd laughing and having a great time then I felt something beside me. I looked over and there stood H-bomb looking at me and then the smartass put a hoof on my back, not heavy, but he put it there pinning me to the ground like bug on a board and then he whinnied as loud as he could a couple of times and the crowd went nuts with laughter.
I crawled out from under his foot and stood up and here came the clowns again. They ran up and made a big scene of bushing me off and going over to H-bomb and pretending to try and lift him up on their shoulders, the crowd was eating it up.
They asked me again to join them because I had to be working out this act with the horse because there was no way that this was not planned. I just looked at them and told them not yet, this horse may be cat food before too long. With that said I gathered up the reins and climbed on and rode out the best round of applause that day.
The day was over and we loaded up and headed back home, Max had placed in the bull riding so he had some money, I had placed in the calf roping and had some money so we were happy but I was beginning to wonder about that horse. Every rodeo so far he been the hit of the crowd, I may have to re-think the clown offer, I might get a good price for him, it is a thought.