Fort Collins, Colo.
Well “Howdy, everyone!” I took time off to get out in some open country so I could get back to my roots and do what I do best. I took a job in wilderness Wyoming at the Laramie Peak Boy Scout Camp giving horseback riding lessons for Merit Badges. But when I got home, what did I see in the Fence Post but an article from “Mad Jack” about me getting bucked off a few years ago and put in the hospital.
Well, Jack and I are “pards” and I have no hard feelings about him telling everybody how I was bucked off and laid up in the hospital for a while, because old men sometimes think they are still young. But that’s kinda like the pot calling the kettle black.
I came home for 4th of July week and went to the Wellington parade with a couple of friends, Mark and Brenda. They pulled their flatbed truck in early and we had a seat right up front, with lawn chairs and umbrellas for shade. While sitting there I saw Jack down in front of the T Bar Inn visiting with some folks and hollered at him. Shore-nuff he came down and sat for a visit.
There was a bunch of Harley motorcycles parked next to us and I caught Jack looking at those bikes, so I made a comment about him sticking to horses … and that’s when he told us that he had bought a motorcycle and the story came out.
Now when Jack called the Motor Vehicle department to get a license to drive his new bike they told him to bring it down to Fort Collins to take the test, but they didn’t give him a clue as to how to get it there.
So Jack figured he had best practice riding the bike, as it had been a number of years since he had owned one. So, according to Jack, he decided to ride it around his ranch for practice. But he wound up spilling this brand-new motorcycle and having to swallow his pride and put in more time before going down and taking the test (which he passed).
The point I am trying to make is that I wish I had read that article before going up on that mountain and feeling like I was 21 years old again. I did, however, discover that walking up and down that road to the corral (only about 200 yards) was a little more than this old man’s lungs were used to. But over the next few weeks it got easier because of determination.
A lot of things became easier as I became acclimated. Then one afternoon I was helping a number of Boy Scouts and their dads mount up for a trail ride. It was a beautiful afternoon with a soft breeze and promised to be a good ride. I was trying to get everyone mounted on a horse I thought would fit them best.
I got down to one father who looked fit, except he had a pot belly. As he started up I could see that he wasn’t going to make it, and the saddle slid off to one side. I was holding the horse and told him to get off, but he was determined to get on. Then the horse started bucking and flipped dad on his back.
Catching up the horse (in my anger) I reset the saddle and stepped up on him. Beginning to use my spurs I hollered at him to buck with me if that’s what he wanted to do. Then suddenly, as I cooled off, I realized; “You crazy old man. You quit riding bucking horses for a reason. You got no business up here thumping on this horse.”
Fortunately for me the horse felt he had met his match and never even jumped. In fact he settled down like a good dude horse and I never had any more trouble out of him. What I am trying to say, Jack, is that you are as old as you feel, and sometimes you can get away with acting like you are 20 years old again.
Just don’t push it; hang in there and be yourself. I have some more stories from Laramie Peak later.
Roger Thompson is a CHA certified instructor of advanced Western horsemanship and beginning English riding.
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