Monday, February 14, 2011



I'm a chicken.
A big fat weenie.
A scaredy cat.
And all the other euphemisms you can think of for being scared.

March will be here before I know it and with it will be the start of many a cowhorse clinic. All of which I will not be able to attend unless I get over my fear.

Oh, I've thought of another one: lily-livered.

My Ruby is out of commission until the end of March while she recovers from having bone chips removed from both of her knees. Luckily, I have another horse that is talented enough to ride in these clinics, my dad's gelding, Socks. There is only one problem with Socks: he has my number.

Curious Socks at the back door.

After six years of riding Breeze the Bipolar you would think that I would have met the ground a few times but for all of her turdishness, Breeze has never offered to buck. She is simply a button-pusher.

Socks has made up for lost time.

Socks makes Breeze look like a good ride, or at least a safe one.

Socks has thrown me off five times.

The ornery gelding is a six year old half brother to our two mares, Ruby and Snakebite (same sire, The Hot Express). He's big, handsome, and super smooth. He had been Grant's personal ranch horse until we brought him home from SCR last April. He even has a cameo dragging calves in a coffee table book called Dust and Smoke.

I gathered on him twice before we took him home and both times he was rock-solid. In fact, he earned my trust on one of those rides when the weather turned ugly. That day we spent a few hours in rain that turned to hail and then snow and even wound up ponying a horse through some of it. Through all of that Socks remained steadfast.

We took him home and I rode him out on a few hacks. He was golden on those occasions as well and had become my second-favorite horse to ride, next to Ruby, of course.

Until one disastrous day in May when he bucked me off three times in a row. The first time it happened I had just climbed on and we had taken a few steps before he exploded. It was a complete shock. I'm not sure I realized exactly what had happened even as I sat on the ground with pain pulsing in my hip and the sharp points of goatheads stabbing the palms of my hands. I caught my horse, convinced it was a fluke, and immediately climbed back on. We walked a bit and then trotted some serpentines before I finally asked him for a lope.

This time the feel of the leather reins burning thru my fingers registered in my brain as he threw his head down by his ankles and erupted again.

To this point, I had never before ridden anything bigger than a dolphin buck. This was turning into a competition between me and this big, stout gelding and I was far outmatched. Nevertheless, my emotions had shifted from shocked to pissed and the third time I climbed on I did so with determination.

And achieved the same results as the first two times.

S P L A T !

This time when I got up it was slowly and my shock and anger was replaced with frustration and a niggle of fear. I caught my horse and stood beside him. I rested my forehead on the saddle and cried. They were tears of frustration and tears of worry. My greatest fear was that I had just ruined a good horse.

I rode Socks several times after that day and each time I climbed on there was a solid knot of fear in my throat that stayed no matter how hard I tried to swallow it down or how good he had been the time before.

Maybe it's cause I braided his hair and damaged his manly ranch horse persona. . .

Number four happened in front of the cross country kids I coach. Pride made me hop back on. He didn't buck and we finished the ride.

On number five he began bucking as soon as I swung my leg over. By this time I had a nightlatch on my saddle and leather gloves on my hands. I held tight for three jumps before I landed in a heap. He bucked a sixth time that day but I finally stuck it out and rode him.

I haven't gotten back on him since.


Now that I've finally stuck I have no wish to get back on him, which makes no sense at all. Like I said, Socks has my number.

I want so bad for there to be a fixable reason for the sudden change. Like that his teeth are bad or his back is out. But, so far, the vet and the chiropractor haven't given me the excuses that I'm looking for.

Is it my fault? Was the first time really a fluke and when I came off so easily he realized that he had an eject button at his disposal?

Muddy K over at A Fearsome Beauty put it best when she said the following of her relationship with her horse after a fall:

"Suddenly, she was something that could hurt me, and I was something that could hurt her. Everything was different. I was outside of myself, displaced as a rider, displaced as Scout's person. Once my head got involved, my body checked out, taking with it the confidence and skill I had freely and un-self-consciously used all those years go."

By no means do I posess the level of confidence or skill that she speaks of but what little I have has been damaged in respect to riding this particular horse. It has definitely become a head game for me.

So, for now, Socks is a beautiful pasture ornament and I don't have a mount for the Les Vogt clinic in March.

My roommate snapped this as I got up from the ground for the third time that day in May.


  1. Why haven't I seen this picture before?!? I would say it's because you put those ridiculous braids in his hair.

  2. Thank you for the very thoughtful comment you left on my blog. I can tell we have some things in common, and no doubt I'll discover more when I've caught up on your blog. I'll get that taken care of soon.

  3. I too want to thank you for visiting my blog and the nice comment you left.

    Love your Leonbergers!

  4. Was wondering why you were asking for all those pics the other day, now I know.

    Nicely written.

    I have another word to add to your list, but it's not PG and apparently your family reads this. ;)