I first visited Texas in 1975, three years before we moved there. I stayed with Uncle Dave and Aunt Betty.
During my visit, they decided to go to Ft. Worth for her mother’s birthday. Betty’s brother Bill was a vet,
who had a ranch with some cattle and horses. She got him to take me horse back riding. How cool was this,
I would get to ride a Texas horse across the Texas Prairie.
On the second day in Ft. Worth, Bill arrives in his truck to take me to the ranch. I was ready, blue jeans
and my first and only cowboy shirt. We get to the ranch and there are two horses ready and waiting.
His sons had been there earlier and had left them almost ready to go. All we had to do was cinch the
saddles and hit the trail.
When I went to cinch mine it decided to suck wind. This is an old horse trick when it wants to make
things miserable for the rider. I reared back and kicked him in the stomach. He blew the load of wind
and I cinched him him up. I told him, “Nice try horse, you lose.” I mounted the horse who for the purpose of this
story I will call “Silver.” I don’t remember it’s name. The stirrups were a little low, but when I asked to adjust them,
Bill tells me no, that I should not need to have them higher. He was wrong.
I have ridden horses before this experience. All of the horses I had ridden were trained Western. Pull the reins
left or right, pull back to stop, loosen the reins to go. Texas, western, I made the assumption that Silver was trained this
way too. No such luck. I finally got the hang of guiding Silver down the trail, but since we were going straight, not much needed
to get him going. It was a nice gentle walk, so I used voice commands to get Silver to speed up. While he seemed to
understand English, he was not responding too well.
I asked Bill what was missing and he suggested I give Silver a lite kick. I gave the lightest kick I could muster and
Silver took off like a bat out of hell. We did about 300 yards in 10 seconds flat. I hung on for dear life and finally did
what I had been taught, I pulled back on the reins. Silver went into Warp Mode. The Starship Enterprise would have had trouble keeping up. For those of you familiar with Star Trek, you know how they always showed the lights streaking to indicate Warp Speed. That’s how the cows looked to me as we flew past them.
Across the prairie we fly, I’m trying to move myself with the horse and I can’t because the stirrups are too low.
I had the reins in one hand and with the other I was alternating between holding onto the saddle and trying to keep my
glasses from flying off. There was a slight grade to the property and then a rise. Silver and I flew up that hill to the next
plateau. Lots more wide open land with a lake straight in front of me.
”Screw this,” I though, you’re not getting me all wet. I decided my only recourse was to jump. I got myself ready for the fall
off this Texas size horse. I knew I was going to get hurt. I threw down the reins and got ready to jump and Silver stops on a dime.
I thought, “What the hell, maybe broke him.” Bill finally rides up and says “Are you OK.?” “Yes,” I mumbled. “These horses aren’t trained western are they?”
“No. They’re trained opposite of Western.”
“Thanks for not telling me.”
I picked up the reins and turned Trigger around for home. Once I knew the controls, we had a fine time. I turned him right and left we counted all the cows, looked over the landscape, all with no issues. I did my best John Wayne imitation and horse and I finally
worked as a team. All was well, I was having fun!
Until we got about 500 feet from the barn……
Silver decided he had enough and picked up the pace. I dropped the reins down and said “Whoa!”
Silver huffed to a stop and I made him stand there a minute. Bill sits there laughing and says, “He’s hungry. Just hang on and let him go.” So Silver got his way and as we neared the barn. I almost got a leg full of corral fence. We put the tack away and rubbed down the horses. Then we fed them their evening grub. Bill noted how I did not have to be told how to do any of this. I let him know 4H had taught
We went back to the house for supper and the whole gang got to laugh at the story. Bill was sitting there and said, “I am so glad I didn’t
have to come back and tell you I killed him.”
When we moved to Texas a few years later I got to ride a horse on Galveston Island. It was trained Western.