Me and Scout

Me and Scout

21 December 2010

21 December 2010, 0726, Tuesday, Home Patch

Friday night, we went to the new diner in town.  Pretty good food and well-priced (which is important).  We took Grandmother and saw some friends.  It is nice becoming part of the community.  Saturday, we finally got around to going on a ride.  We saddled up Scout and Sarge and took a brief ride down to the pens and back.  Sarge is pretty green and has not been ridden much.  He doesn’t neck rein very well, so I decided that I needed to put him on a limber curb bit.  That’s a bit that is hinged in the middle like a training or snaffle bit, but the reins attach on rings below the bit like a curb bit so you can brake by putting pressure on his chin.  He did fine, he just needs some experience.
We got back and then I saddled up Rebel and we went out again.  We rode out to the new hay field and counted the rolls out there and we have more than we thought.  Good because we won’t run short.  However, that is a lot to move.  I hope we can get that done before it gets wet, because I don’t want to have to put all that hay out from over there.
On the way back, the wild horses were standing somewhat near the gate out of the home side of the pasture, so I set the gates, put Anna dismounted on the road and made a couple of passes at the horses.  I got them separated from the other horses okay, but couldn’t get them through the gate.  I really didn’t open the right gate anyway.  Once I fixed that, I tried again, but they faded off into the patch of woods.  I haven’t seen them since.  There is a fence that’s low that goes into the deer lease to the east of us.  I will leave that open until I see them again.

We had had a busy week, so when we got back, we took a nap and brought the gator over from Grandmother’s.
Yesterday, we fed and I fixed up the new bridle and bit.  Well, it was all old, but I put the limber bit into a relatively new headstall and some old leather reins.  I got Sarge saddled up and was going to tie him in the empty stall in the barn while I helped Anna saddle up and he just went ape all of a sudden.  Anna was standing in the breezeway with a gate between her and the horse.  I don’t know why, but Sarge started bucking.  He kicked the gate, which hit Anna in the chest, then he bucked his way into the stall with me.  I figured that he would jump a couple of times and then settle down, but whenever he looked like he was going to quit, he just started up again.  I had the reins and tried to maneuver him into the stall with me, away from Anna and she got clear to the other side of the breezeway and then the reins broke and he bucked right toward her again.  I advised her to climb out, but I don’t think she really needed my encouragement.  Then, Sarge bucked his way back into my stall and I went over the fence into the next stall and he tore that partition down right after I climbed over.  Then, he finally quit.
I ran around the barn to check on Anna and she was fine, but a little sore and she is carrying a couple of bruises today.  Sarge was now locked up in the barn, standing, but shaky.  I gave him some feed, attached some new reins (good ones this time) and soberly pondered what I would have done had he started bucking and my reins broke while I was riding him.
Ten or even 5 years ago, I’d have gotten right aboard and ask for the worst, but going to war and turning 40 helps you realize that you are not as invincible as you once were.  However, I’m not going to just sell the horse because he bucked a couple of times.  I rebuilt the barn, then led him down to the pens and by that time he was pretty settled.  I rode him back and used the new bit to reinforce his neck reining.  He did fine.
I came to the conclusion that I would much rather have a horse just start bucking with me, than to have the premonition that he might buck.  To have a horse just start bucking is a bit startling, but the adrenalin kicks in and you want to ride him to the ground.  “Buck with ME, I don’t think so!!”  But knowing that a horse is goofy or crazy makes it all the harder.  You’re nervous and he can tell.
I was at a reenactment about 3 years ago and we were all standing in formation with our horses and the colonel asked for a volunteer.  Crickets chirped and tumbleweeds rolled by.  I realized that I was trying to be a leader in the unit and that I was younger than most of them, plus I had been in the army and all, so I stepped forward.  At that very instant, I realized that I had been in the army and should have known better than to volunteer.  The assignment was to ride a staff horse to “warm him up”.  Mr. Jitters was his name and that branding didn’t cover his disposition by a long shot.  This horse was crazy.  I had ridden him before and he gave me a little trouble, but he was put on very skimpy rations at the time.  Now, he was nuts.  I clambered aboard and rode him around the formation a couple of times and every step, he bowed up his back like he was about to explode.  Finally, I let my weight shift ever so slightly and he chose to start.  Don’t think that he didn’t know what he was doing.  That first jump put me off center even more, but I got over him and tried to tuck his head under him and everyone started yelling at me.  They had left out that this horse had a habit of rearing up and tipping over backwards so pulling on his head wasn’t a good thing to do.  Thanks for the information, guys.  Anyway, he didn’t tip, I rode him down and he went back to the picket line.  I guess the staff officer rode in the wagon.  I had put on a show for the whole regiment and thanked God that I didn’t spill in front of them all.  Anyway, like I said.  It’s worse when you know they’re going to buck.

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