Total Pageviews

Monday, March 1, 2010

Guardian Angel on Overtime (part II)

Our house has emptied out again after a wonderful few days of having family and friends gather for Bryan’s church talk. We are so grateful for the incredible support and love we have felt from everyone…thank you!

Now that things have quieted down, I can finish the second part of my, ‘I should have died’ blogpost. I recognize that there have been numerous times during my life I’ve been watched over and spared from harm, but this particular event is the most prominent in my memory:

We had tried keeping goats, sheep and cows in the north pasture to keep down the tall, coarse grass that grew there, but none of these animals would eat what was known as “horse grass” so when I was 13 years old my Dad bought a horse to graze that pasture.

Jim and I argued over what to name the horse, I liked Trigger or Ivory, but Jim liked Buster and Mom sided with him so Buster he became. Buster was a slightly off-white color, but the most noticeable characteristic of this animal was not his physical features, it was his attitude. This horse had sass! He was ornery as all get out and mean as a hive of hornets. He would bite, kick, buck or knock you over with a swing of his head. We had a neighbor, Lynn Talbot, who was a real ‘horseman’ and he would come over and give me advice about Buster. Mr. Talbot told me I had to show this horse who was boss and not take any nonsense from him. This is not easy for a 75-pound weakling against a giant animal who wears iron shoes on four powerful hooves and has a mouthful of enormous teeth. Mr. Talbot loaned me a saddle and a bridle and then told my Dad, “That horse needs to be exercised.”

So, in addition to my evening chores every day was added the ordeal of exercising Buster. Of course the only way to really exercise a horse is to ride him, so I would push, punch and pound against Buster to get him saddled and a halter on him each day after school and in the mornings during the summer. Buster would NOT take the bit of the bridle between his teeth, no matter what I did. He would throw his head and knock me off my feet every time I tried. Mr. Talbot got him to take it, but he even admitted he didn’t think I would ever be able to do it. So Mr. Talbot traded the bridle for a halter and Buster wore it around his nose and up over his ears and then to the reins which I would hold. I could yank with all my might and maybe get Buster to consider going the direction I wanted, but not often.

For many weeks this was our routine: I would exhaust myself saddling him; I would get myself up in the saddle and then I would urge, cajole and threaten him to walk or maybe trot around town for 30 minutes, but the second that he knew I was too tired to fight him anymore, he would turn his nose toward home and gallop at a terrifying speed back to the house. We would arrive in a lather, then I would unsaddle, wipe down and curry him and give him his grain and fresh water. He was a very obstinate and demanding animal.

After some months, I started getting some muscles built up and began feeling a little more confident around Buster, but it still never failed that when we’d been out for 45 minutes, Buster would turn towards home and gallop nearly uncontrolled the entire way home.

I liked to take Buster to the Hinckley Rodeo grounds and ride into the arena and shut the giant gate and then just ride in circles until we were both tuckered out, then we would full-out gallop home and go through our routine. One day, I rode into the arena and didn’t shut the gate. I was enthralled to see the barrels were set up and I was excited to try ‘barrel racing’ like the beautiful rodeo queens. (I had quite a vivid imagination!) I urged Buster forward toward the first barrel and we trotted through the clover-leaf pattern of the three barrels and then a quick gallop back out the gate…(because he thought we were heading home)...FUN! I had to try that again, but this time with some real speed. I drove the heels of my cowboy boots into Buster’s sides and forced him to gallop at an angle down the arena to barrel number 1…around we went! A quick flick of the wrist convinced him we were headed to barrel number 2 and that was when things went south. As we rounded on that barrel, Buster reared and I slipped out of the saddle and fell into the soft soil of the rodeo arena. I instantly knew I was in trouble because my boot was caught in the stirrup and I was being pulled through the dirt like a plow. My head was bouncing up and down making a cloud of dust as Buster, without all my strength yanking on his halter, made his dash straight towards the open gate of the arena. I knew I was as good as dead because no way could I survive the pounding I was receiving when we came to the gravel and then paved roads, the ditches, rocks, bushes and other hurdles we would cross between the rodeo grounds and home--which is where I knew Buster was heading at a dizzying speed.

I was struggling with all my might to free my foot from the boot OR my boot from the stirrup as we flew through the gate of the arena. I was yelling at Buster to stop, yet I knew it was completely futile. Just as we were heading through the parking lot, Buster came to a sudden halt…He just stopped! I didn’t waste a second, without the pressure of being pulled by my foot; I could rotate my foot and extricate it from the stirrup. I jumped to my feet, fully expecting someone to be standing there holding Buster’s lose reins. But there wasn’t anyone there, at least no one I could see.

Buster allowed me to easily remount and then he calmly walked out of the parking lot and towards home. It was the first time he ever returned home at anything less than a frenzied gallop. I trembled terribly while I unsaddled Buster, toweled him down and gave him his grain that evening. I patted his head and went into the house still marveling that I was alive.

To this very day, I am positive that there was an unseen (to me, not Buster) presence who stood in front of that run-away horse and made him stop in his tracks and allow me to get out of the precarious position I had been in. I’m so grateful to whoever saved me from being battered to death. Ever since Cami, (my now 16-year-old) heard that story as a very small child, she has always told me that she was the one who stopped Buster from running away dragging her Mom…and who knows...maybe that is what happened. Cami is the only one I've ever known who was more obstinate and headstrong than that horse.

Buster with my little brother, Mark, My Dad (with the carrots), and My Grandma (Georgia Basham)


Tina said...

Wow! What a miracle! and how awesome that Cami feels that she is the one who helped you. Great story.

I too, have a Mr.-Talbot-horse story! Maybe I'll have to do one of my "flash-back friday" posts about it! It is not nearly as interesting as yours. You had me on the edge of my seat reading yours!!!

Dean and Sheri said...

Oh, I loved reading your story...but it was FRIGHTENING! I don't know how your mother survived YOUR childhood...I'm so glad your little angel,Cami, was there and that you were saved from terrible injury...or worse. Thanks again for sharing.