Fallin' Off

Cain't say that I know a heap about this subject, 'cause it just doesn't happen often with me. Not 'cause I just cain't move so quick anymore, or 'cause I'm so swayback at 44 (yep, April 2000 I celebrated my 44th year), but 'cause I know how to stay under my rider - even when it seems they do their darndest to topple off. In fact, in the last 19 years only 4 folks have ended up in the dirt beside me. And there have been lotsa folks on my back. I admit that I don't give too fast or handy of a ride anymore, but I can still carry my person around, and a handful of little ones now and then, through each and every gait.

Back in the old days, in Texas, I was pretty active playin' polo. Now those fellas know how to stick to their saddles. Most of the time, anyway, and I helped them out when they didn't. Then there were all those beginners, all sorts of friends and relatives of my person, and all ages, even Grandmas, that rode me on trail rides and for swims in the river. Now that was a challenge, stayin' under some of them. And you humans think it's hard stayin' on top of a big old horse? Try stayin' under a flailin' kid or a spread adult who cain't hardly stay in a chair. but I took care of 'em. And one other thing - it's so hot in Texas that there ain't that much cause to get all frisky on account of cold weather (speakin' for myself, anyway); cold weather just ain't around all that much.

So how did I let those 4 happen? The first was actually in the river, in Austin, and I misjudged my depth or somethin'; my pretty-experienced-but-lightweight rider just floated up off me and the current pulled him off the side. However, I offered my tail and pulled him to shore. I think I may have told y'all that story already.

In my most recent episode of rider goin' one way and me goin' the other, I spooked. Just one quick move to the right. Dagnabbit, I was really caught off guard. It was a winter day, a trail ride, a tall, inexperienced rider, equally as peaceful as I, and a sudden charge of a dog on a rattlin', draggin' chain out of his nearby doghut. It wasn't fair; I was goin' last, and the dog shoulda done this well before I got next to him, but maybe he was dozin' too. So off my tall rider went, t-i-m-b-e-r, down into the snow (luckily there was somethin' soft to land in).

Time number three: I was standin' still to be mounted. Didn't move an eyelash. Hardly breathed, and the next thing I knew there was a human lyin' on the ground beside me, the other side, all surprised and laughin'; she nearly landed on her head. She had heaved herself up and over my back instead of onto it. Now this was an experienced rider, too. The problem was that her horse is sooo tall compared to me that the usual up-heave sent her way too high. Also the stirrups musta been too short for her long legs, further increasin' the lift. Up and over she went, no fault of mine, but it still can be counted.

The fourth was possibly my fault, but maybe not, 'cause none of us know what happened first. But I did buck, and that was part of the whole picture. Now, I do know how to buck and toss someone if I want to, and I know how to buck and catch a rider right where I tossed 'em from, too; I just don't do it. It ain't kind. Unless a rider really wants me to, I won't do it. But I did it that one day, when I thought that all measures of safety were in order and any possibility of losin' that rider was absent. A bunch of us went on a trail ride. I had on a Western saddle with a handy little horn, my rider had her stirrups and was really with me, leanin' nicely forward, both hands on the reins, not even usin' the horn. We were lopin' steadily along a visible, smooth trail, approachin' a steep upward slope. We reached the base of the bank and I planned to extend my hind end at the safest possible uphill moment. The bank was grassy and leveled off at the top, so even if my rider would get unseated, I'd catch her at the top. And the odds of a rider not ridin' out a quick buck while goin' uphill are pretty slim, don'tcha think?

That's what I thought. So I bucked; I just felt good, wanted to show off a little bit, and my rider seemed ready for a brief thrill. My rider got her thrill, all right - she fell off. Plop, on the ground, at the top of the bank, a few walkin' strides after we leveled off. I was at a dead stop several l-o-n-g seconds before she went off the side. It was one of the slowest falls I ever witnessed, and at first I thought she was dismountin'. But I had detected her gettin' off balance, and she wouldn't sit back down in the saddle and stayed perched over my withers and neck, even at the top, and I couldn't correct it, which was why I gently stopped lopin' when I did. Actually I stayed under her and it was all a very successful buck, 'cept for one thing I hadn't considered. and neither did my rider.

Now have y'all ever leaned forward in a Western saddle to pet your horse's neck, say, up toward his ears? And what happened to your belt? Well, that's what happened here. Nobody ever told me about that horn and a belt havin' the capacity to get hooked up. My rider's belt may have been caught before I ever bucked; nobody knew. All she knew was that she couldn't sit back down. So maybe she woulda fell off even if I hadn't bucked; we'll never know. What I do know now is why those fancy belt buckles that rodeo riders wear are so BIG. Y'all couldn't snag one of those shields on any saddle horn. And maybe that's why some saddle horns are so flat and wide too - anybody know somethin' about that? Let me know.

Stay in that saddle.

Love, P-pot,

closer