Yup, there I was, surrounded on a side-and-a-half when I said to myself, “Self,” I said, because that’s what I call myself when I’m talking to myself, “we need to bring the horses round the back and start searching for the normal side. Monday’s column may be brought to you by …”
Meanwhile, back at the evil computer whatcha call it, the weak side is popping his knuckles in anticipation, humming the tune from the real “True Grit,” and remembering what it’s like to ride a “green broke horse” full out.
When the girls were early teenagers and my son was about 7, I worked as a guide and outfitter for a ski resort /dude ranch in Wyoming.
Yup, I was getting paid to fish away the summer, hunt big game in the fall and ski all winter and no, there was no guilt involved when I cashed my check each month.
One of the horses we worked as a pack animal had been named “Pig Biscuit” by its previous owner, and we had been warned “never to tie him to anything or swing a saddle on his back.”
Now imagine me, the weak side, being told not to do something.
We learned real quickly. The first time we tied him to a corral rail, he didn’t like it and blew up, scattering some dude’s gear clear to Hobart Junction. So, we didn’t tie him up anymore.
However, later that year, just before hunting season started, I told Mike De Angelo, one of our wranglers, “Throw my saddle on the Pig and I’ll take the snot out of her.”
Well, as life will have it, the word shot across our small valley “the old man’s going to ride the Pig,” and a small crowd started to gather.
As I watched Mike walk into the corral to put a halter on Pig Biscuit, the side that’s now missing whispered in my ear, “If you survive, what should I bring to the hospital, magazines or a walker?”
Mike walked over with the Pig, dropped the lead rope just and said “there ya go.” He then joined the bulging crowd that was now putting odds on the horse.
I started to rub the horse down with my saddle blanket and let my fear mumble to him in a very soft voice, “just get me to the pasture gate and we’ll both walk home.”
When I laid the blanket on his back and pushed it up to his withers, a shudder went through that horse that shook both of us all the way to Planet Stupid. He seemed to stand a little taller and the muscle mass was forming like a baseball player on steroids.
I gathered up about a foot of his lead rope, stuck it in my back pocket, and gently brought my saddle up, again with that shudder and the other stuff.
The missing side whispered again, “How much of this chunk you bit off can you really chew?”
“Hell, I don’t know” I mumbled back, “but I gotta go, now.”
I remember watching one of the twins — I’m pretty sure it was Eileen — pull her hat down with both hands as I brought half the lead rope up one side, grabbed it, and swung up on the Pig.
The Pig and I both looked into the now silent crowd at the same time — he had a gleam in his eye, and mine were backing up in their sockets with fear.
I have no idea how many times he bucked straight away before we went into light speed, headed for the pasture, or maybe it was town, 12 miles away. Nope, it was the pasture, the same one I’d promised the horse we’d walk back from.
Turns out Pig Biscuit could stop near as fast as he could run. We both walked home, side by side, content with the point we’d made.
Click here to have the print version of the Craig Daily Press delivered to your home.