Peggy Sanders
Oral, S.D.

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January 27, 2014
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Peggy Sanders: Confluence Chronicles 1-25-14

Isn’t it funny how differently we react to experiences in life? Real horsewomen (and men) have been dumped off their rides oodles of times yet still get back on and enjoy it. I’m not a member of that club. Horses scare me. I rode as a kid just for fun but the memories are more negative than the good. I was too scrawny and short to saddle my own horse, and even then I didn’t like to depend on others to help me do things. We did often ride bareback though, which alleviated some problems. The horse I rode knew I wasn’t good at catching her and she did her best to allude capture when I was alone. That didn’t help my attitude toward horses.

The rides I remember are such as when I pretended — the operative word here — to be a barrel racer, out in our wintered-down hay field. Trouble was I didn’t know enough about it and it was the start that did me in. I imagined a real cowgirl doesn’t hang onto the saddle horn and would start up suddenly and fast to run barrels. I sat the horse loosely and relaxed, kicked her into high gear, and promptly fell off. Since then I’ve observed how much barrel racers do use their horns.

Then there was the time my older brother and I were riding double — bareback — me on the back, of course, and we both fell off. He had a pocket full of marbles and I got little round bruises. Another time riding double but with a saddle, I fell off — into a patch of prickly pear cactus. I had a few good thorns in my lower arm. We loaded back up and went for the house. As my brother pulled the stickers out with pliers and tweezers, my nose started running and I sniffed. The poor guy thought I was crying and he was hurting me. It actually didn’t hurt — much — but it did itch.

The most spectacular wreck, well, it seemed like it at the time, occurred when I was maybe 7. We were at a neighbor’s and as I sat on their saddled horse completely at ease, their son shot an arrow into the air straight up, right in front of the horse. I knew he was going to shoot it and suppose I thought the horse had seen it before. However, the horse spooked and I got dumped. To hear me tell it then, I was Yakima Canutt or Casey Tibbs on a bad day. My family assured me that the horse had only side-stepped, albeit suddenly, and I fell off. But I just knew he had bucked wildly.

Why is it that my experiences have not led me to enjoy horses and others take such actions in stride? I don’t know but I do wonder if they are constantly afraid. And, how do those barrel horses keep from falling over as they round the cans?

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