Trudy Andrew | Canadian Author

Horse Tails

The Pity Buy

Chico was about the best pity buy ever. He proved over and over again that he was worth bringing home. He was the horse you grabbed if you were feeling lazy, and wanted a completely predictable ride. He was the horse that was never a hard catch, never pulled back or fussed while being saddled, and never refused to get into the trailer either. Not that I bothered with saddles much. It’s so much easier to ride bareback than bother with a saddle. Besides that, the old boy surely didn’t need me and the weight of the saddle as well. At least that’s what I told myself, when in truth, I can’t be bothered to tack up, if I don’t have to. Bareback is so much easier. In fact, if I had limited riding time, I would brush where the bridle lay and where I sat, and away I’d go.
I rarely rode with a saddle, even going so far as to compete in competitive trail and endurance racing bareback. I preferred not to worry about saddle sores and equipment failure. All I had to worry about was the horse, a bridle and myself, and it’s rather liberating. Riding Chico bareback was no trouble at all. He was a predictable, old fellow that we could always count on. He babysat beginners or nervous riders, was a lovely, do anything horse for the girlchild, and was almost always a rip-snorter for me. I love a horse that adjusts to the rider. It’s one of the most amazing qualities in an animal. Chico wasn’t behaving at all badly, it was as if he knew what each person enjoyed.
I vividly remember, my last two rides on him. A friend who boarded with us wanted to go for a ride, and asked if I wanted to go to. Of course I did. Chico was handy, easy to bridle and away we went for a four mile ride around the block. Though it was an incredibly windy day, as flat prairie was prone to be, it was still a lovely day for a ride.
The ride was uneventful and full of random chatter as we talked this, that and other things. The third mile was the most pleasant. With our backs to the wind, we could actually hear spoken words before the wind caught and swept them away. Turning onto the last mile, a dirt road that ran beside a big farm for the first half mile then beside my farm for the next. We were almost home. The first, short stretch was somewhat sheltered from the wind, by the farmyard and buildings. As we rode along, I looked ahead and noticed what could be a problem. There was corn trash blowing across the road from the field. Long, dry leaves whipped back and forth, serpentine-like across the dirt like so many slithery asps. Hmm, this could be a problem. I mean, it was Chico, so it would probably be fine, but you never did know. Besides that, my friend was on Marty, her off the track thoroughbred. Anything could happen. It was over three miles to go back, three quarters of a mile to go forward, and under a half mile to get by the blowing corn leaves. Of course we were carrying on. It was no big deal.
As it turned out, it swiftly became a very big deal indeed. Chico didn’t refuse to go forward. It wasn’t what he did. He walked forward, every muscle as tight as a wound spring as he arched his neck and stared at the leaves whisking by his hooves. Loud, explosive snorts of sound left him as he began to strike at the snakes moving all around us. You could almost hear him. Snake! Snake! Snake!
I was swiftly getting in a spot of trouble. He was leaping, attacking, striking back and forth, side to side, throwing in the odd bit of a spin here and there, and I was riding bareback as usual. A big leap with a spin, and I suddenly wasn’t riding bareback. My butt was firmly planted on the ground.
It wasn’t pretty, it hurt a tad, which is surprising when the area that impacts is well padded, and my friend giggled like mad. I hadn’t let go of the reins, and had some reassuring to do, but after walking Chico a little further, I hopped back up and rode a somewhat nervous Chico home.
The following weekend I ended up doing exactly the same thing. As if a windy day and blowing corn leaves wouldn’t have the same outcome, sigh. I hit the ground in pretty much the same spot, and a good deal of laughter ensued. Of course I rode Chico home again, but darn, my tailbone ached. That night, it was my not so sympathetic husband who had a good laugh. I had a perfect triangle shaped bruise pointing directly at my butt. It was as if that black colour was saying, that’s where it hurts, and it was right. That was where it hurt!

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About Trudy Andrew

Trudy Andrew lives on a small farm just east of Winnipeg, Manitoba, where she enjoys her Morgan horses. A dreamer since she was a child, its no surprise to those who know her well that her imagination would find an outlet in writing, as it has in the past through artwork.
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 Oakbank, MB