Lisa Hamblen Hood: Through the Fence 6-20-11
June 20, 2011
Life is risky. A person has to decide for themselves and their family what kind of danger they choose to tolerate. When our children were very young, we lived in a beautiful historic district near downtown Dallas. However, like many historic neighborhoods, it was juxtaposed to decaying houses and buildings and was home to many gangs and drug dealers. We frequently heard gun shots at night.
Before our youngest turned one, we moved to the country. It wasn’t the suburbs or even a small town; it was so far out in the boondocks, the dirt road ended at our driveway. We didn’t have the shopping, dining or entertainment opportunities we once had, nor did our children have the educational options that we might have preferred. But what we did have was safety – relatively speaking of course. We had poisonous snakes, scorpions and spiders, poison ivy and stinging nettles. We had bucking horses, kicking mules and cows with big horns. But we slept with the doors unlocked, enjoying the blissful quiet of the country – far away from cars, trains, sirens and the booming bass speakers of the gangsters’ car speakers.
Risks are unavoidable but just have to be managed. The other day, one of my elementary students told me about the risk of riding a young horse. Little Colton was about 4-years-old at the time. His mom, Teresa was busy working in her garden one summer when he started nagging her about riding their 3-year-old gelding, Blaze. She told him that he was too young to ride alone, and that Blaze was a little “green” still. She said that she couldn’t go with him that day. But he was undeterred. She figured it was easier to let him go and take his chances than to keep arguing. Besides, she was going to be outside where she could watch him, and he was just going to be riding around the yard and the pasture behind their house.
It went well for about an hour; then Blaze started acting contrary. He tried to unseat his young rider by walking under low hanging branches. He kept trying to turn back and trot to the barn. Colton got frustrated. His mama was getting anxious watching the contest of wills and offered to help him out. She climbed into the saddle as her son eased back onto the blanket behind her. She was in no mood to take any guff from a horse. She wheeled him around and tried to force him down the path that he didn’t want to travel.
Without so much as a snort or an ear flicker, Blaze reared up and then started bucking in earnest. Both riders held on tight as Teresa tried to regain control. Her efforts were in vain, though. First, Colton flew high into the air and landed right in the middle of a huge clump of cactus. The next buck broke the girth. Teresa and the saddle both flew off and landed in the cactus right beside the little boy. He hadn’t even gotten up yet. They looked at each other and both burst into tears – him from shock and pain, and her from pure rage. She hated an ornery horse to get the best of her.
She had to teach her son a lesson. You can’t accept defeat; you’ve got to get right back on the horse that bucked you. She found another girth strap, caught the horse and resaddled him. They didn’t ride long, but she didn’t want the horse to have the victory. And by getting back on, Colton would gain some confidence. All those bruises on their backsides were a good reminder of the lesson learned as were the dozens of cactus needles that they had to pluck out.
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There is no way to protect yourself or your children from every risk, regardless of where you live. I got bitten by a snake wading in pond when I was growing up on a ranch. My son got bucked off a mule a few years ago, and it took 50 stitches to close the gaping hole that was once his elbow. Even so, I’ll take my chances living in the country, and when I asked Colton, he agreed.