My first ride on a horse and my lifelong inability to ride a horse.
Part 2 from Friends Of My Childhood.
Several weeks after I moved to town and met Mike, my first true friend in town, we went on our first great adventure. As a five year old who had been a farm kid up until a few weeks ago many things were new and exciting to me. It was a bright cloudless early spring Saturday morning and something happened to me that I would never forget. I rode a horse, for the first timeóalmost.
Mikeís family owned a horse, and not just any horse; they owned a great white horse, named Silver, after the Lone Rangers horse in the movies and stories. But this horse reminded me more of a great white whale, it was the fattest horse I had ever seen and my legs would barely spread wide enough to sit astride this great whale. And it was scary looking with white skin, beady red eyes and what looked like very short legs. When I first saw him I was not sure if I wanted to ride or run. Silver also looked very old, at the time I thought he must be about fifty or sixty years old and I decided to ask someone later how old horses get. He looked so old I was afraid that if we rode too long or too fast he might fall over dead.
Silver was stabled at the local county fairgrounds, a place of many adventures in the next few years. I could never figure out why Mike didnít keep Silver at home, in town, they had a big yard. We waited patiently as Mikeís mom put some kind of a rope and leather collar around his neck and head, threw a blanket on his back and led him outside for our great ride, and my first ride. We didnít get a saddle; I suspected later that no one made saddles big enough for a horse this fat, so they couldnít buy one and thatís why we didnít get one that day.
I never knew that city people needed horses, we didnít even have one when we lived on the farm. Mike had one, so maybe his dad used it with his job in the F.B.I , or maybe his dad was the Lone Ranger, I didnít think so, I would ask someone about these things later, probably my sister or my dad.
Mikeís mom, who must have been very strong, boosted Mike up and then sat me behind him onto the red blanket that covered part of the back of this great monster for my first ride. It felt good to be riding a horse, even if Mikeís mom was holding the reigns. We slowly walked the huge animal out toward the infield in front of the grandstand. As we walked I could feel myself sliding, slowly, to the right. I tried to scoot back up onto old Silver, but I was too far gone. I didnít yell I didnít cry, I just fell, fell off, right on my head as we crossed the gravel walkway leading to the infield.
Thus began my lifelong inability to ride a horse, any horse, without something happening that would require medical attention. In high school I was thrown, stepped on and bitten over a period of two summers by several different horses with one thing in common, they hated me. But it was years later, as an adult and father that I relived the horrible nightmare of that first ride and fall.
I had been riding well, I was proud of myself, I was alone this time and it felt good to be back in the saddle and then, all of the sudden, without warning, I was on the ground. This time I could not hold back and the tears streamed down my face, as I lay beaten and broken on the ground. Was I hurt badly, or was this just a reaction to that fall of many years ago when I didnít cry? Lucky for me, I didnít need to answer that question. The Assistant Manager of K-Mart was there in an instant. He put another quarter in the box sat me back in the saddle again, told me I was all right, and off I rode, I could feel the wind against my tear stained face, and it was good. I was a cowboy, back in the saddle again.
On that first ride, after Silver nearly destroyed my young life, we rode back to our homes on E street, Mike laughing uncontrollably, me sniffling and whimpering, and Mikeís mom fuming and hollering at both of us. I liked riding in their car; it was a brand new blue and white Desoto. It smelled good and had slick seat covers that I was determined not to slide off of. We pulled into Mikeís driveway I jumped out and without a word ran home.
Iím not sure to this day what injuries I suffered when Silver viciously and violently threw me to the ground that day. But I believe I must have suffered some sort of terrible brain trauma or I wouldnít be writing this story and I wouldnít be watching all these television westerns.
Why else would someone subject himself to all of this grief?