Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Rodeo

  I think all kids growing up in a small western town probably have the same dreams, one of those dreams is of being a cowboy. We were no different in Darrouzett than anywhere else, so whenever someone had a horse in town everyone showed up. Somehow we all knew, whether it was a sixth sense or what I'm not sure, but a horse in town drew the same attention as an ice cream truck in a city, and everyone came to see if they could get a ride. If you were lucky enough to get on your thoughts quickly turned to winning  some event at the National Finals Rodeo, whether it be roping, pole bending, or the biggy, the bronc busting event. Although most horses that people would let us ride were, well usually so old and broken down that they posed absolutely no danger to anyone, except if they happened to fall over dead while you were on them. Except for one, one called Ticket.

  Ticket was a Shetland pony, and for anyone that does not know what a Shetland pony is, it's a small horse that is somewhere between the size of a normal size horse, and a miniature horse, with the temperament of an attack dog. Now, I'm sure that there are mild and timid Shetlands somewhere out in the world, but I personally have not met one yet. Ticket was without question the meanest horse that has ever eaten oats, and pooped in a field. We all felt sure that if Lucifer himself were trying to take over the earth, he would be mounted majestically on the back of Ticket. The people that owned Ticket claimed that they were at a carnival or something, and they purchased a raffle ticket and won the horse. I always thought they should have held out for whatever the second prize was, but they didn't, and so Ticket the rodeo horse was what they got.

  It was a warm summer afternoon when Pete and Bobby brought Ticket to town. Word quickly spread that Ticket was in town, and if you wanted to ride him you needed to get up to the hotel before the brothers took him back to his pen. So, like I said, with visions of riding the winning bronc at the rodeo, I started off to the backyard which was the rodeo arena. I had seen others ride, and attempt to ride him. Sometimes it went well, and then sometimes, more times than not it didn't. There just seemed to be something about somebody on Ticket's back that must have really annoyed him, because as soon as anyone sat down in the saddle he would begin snorting and bucking for all he was worth. I'm pretty sure that he wasn't actually jumping 10 feet in the air and reaching back and biting pieces out of your legs, but in my mind that was exactly what was happening!

  "Who wants to go first?" Bobby yelled. We all just stood there looking at each other, nobody wanting to volunteer for the suicide mission. "C'mon you pansies, don't be a bunch of babies. There's nothing to be afraid of" Bobby chided us. Suddenly, as if being controlled by some outside force, I felt my hand being raised, and my voice saying I'll go. By the time I realized what was happening, it was too late, I was committed, that is unless I wanted to be considered, and called a chicken the rest of my life, and no kid wanted that. I had to prove my bravery to all my friends.

  Slowly I approached Ticket. Bobby was holding him by the reins and smiling like an executioner about to pull the handle. I petted Ticket a time or two, thinking maybe if I made friends with him he would like me and take it easy on me. I placed a foot in the stirrup and stood up, kicked my leg over, and sat down in the saddle. So far so good I thought as I stuck my other foot in the stirrup. Just about then I thought I had to be on Seabiscuit, Secretariat, or some other race horse, because Ticket took off like he was shot out of a gun. By the time I got my head up off of his butt he began to buck. I was holding on for my very life. Every time that his feet hit the ground my jaws popped together so hard that everything went dark for a second, and my ears would ring. Slobber and snot was flying everywhere. I wasn't sure if it was his or mine, but it was all over the place. I knew that in a proper rodeo if you held on for 8 seconds you had fulfilled your obligation, and could get off. I was pretty sure it had not been that long, but surprisingly I hadn't been bucked off yet! Maybe I was going to be the one who tamed the beast.

  We were right over by where everyone was standing and watching, when all of a sudden I saw Pete shoot out of the crowd and fall to the ground, get up, and then take off running. What the heck was going on? Well, it seems that Bobby had pushed Pete out in front of us, and whenever someone would run then Ticket would chase them. Yep, you guessed it, just like a dog chases someone! So, I'm sure Ticket was thinking, hey this is more fun than trying to buck somebody off. Well Pete is running around in the backyard, with me and Ticket hot on his heels. I'm pulling back on the reins as hard as I can, but it's doing no good at all. Then for some reason that is still not known Pete decides the best way out was to run underneath the clothesline. I saw the wires coming at me, but instead of ducking, falling off, or anything, I froze.

  You know how they say that sometimes in situations your life flashes before your eyes, well it's true. Only as young as I was there was only like 2 or 3 pictures that flashed in my mind before the wire hit my throat. Now, clothesline wire is made out of #9 wire, which is about the size of a Bic ink pen, and it is strung between two 2" x 4" boards at the ends. I'm not sure how long I was unconscious, but I don't think it was very long. When I opened my eyes I saw all of these faces looking down at me. I noticed their mouths moving, but I couldn't hear anything. Slowly as my hearing started returning I could tell they were asking if I was alright. No I wasn't alright, I had just had a killer horse try to do me in! I started wondering, where was that devil horse, because I just knew he was waiting for everyone to move so he could come over and trample me. They told me that I had broken the wire and both 2" x 4" boards at each end.

  The rest of the day was just a blur and has since sunk into the recesses of my memories. I do however remember making a promise to myself that I would never ever under any circumstances get on a horse again, and that I had absolutely no desire to become a cowboy. As I have gotten older every now and then I would catch myself looking at some cowboy boots, thinking man those are some good looking boots, but reality would hit me again and I would remember the rodeo at the hotel all those years back..  Well to this day I have kept my little promise to myself!



  1. Oh my goodness. To funny Mark. You shouldn't have scared poor Ticket like that. He could have really gotten hurt running into that clothes line. lol. Ticket and Snip were always good for some form of entertainment.

  2. I am still rolling on the floor laughing about that. I can see all of it in my head. This just confirmed it for me that you definitely need to write those stories down. Lol.

  3. Ticket actually Lucky Ticket- was won at the Christmas drawing when Santa came to town on the Fire truck- we thought we won the lottery ( maybe not Roy and Fern) but us kids did- we probably did get a million bucks worth of fun and memories from ole ticket- love that horse still or maybe I should say the memories- I hate to break it too you moose all us kids were loao til we got our butts chewed out by Carl Hood the one armed guy for laughing he told us you could of been killed and we told him yeah but did see the clothes line boards explode and he's still breathing lol-

  4. See anonymous, I knew ya'll loved me!

  5. Mark we had a Shetland pony growing up and I can sure relate to your story. Very funny story.