Gary Heintz: Don’t touch my boots! |

Gary Heintz: Don’t touch my boots!

I never did like Patti’s mare. I’ll tell you why.

One of the first things we did after we got married was buy saddle horses. We were looking for gaited horses for trail riding because of their smooth ride and ground-eating gait. We found a black mare that Patti fell in love with. I wasn’t all that excited about her, she seemed to have a sulky, pushy way about her. But Patti’s love for the mare and my love for Patti clouded my judgment so we bought her.

We spent several weekends in the Black Hills riding with friends who knew their way around in the rough country of Custer State Park, testing our Tennessee Walkers’ endurance and surefootedness. We were convinced they were great trail riding horses, with endless stamina. The problem didn’t show up until one Saturday while riding near home.

Joe Thorne has a big pasture north of our house. We rode there four or five times a week. Joe had about twenty head of horses running in the pasture, and we never had a problem with them. This particular Saturday we had just gotten about five hundred yards into the pasture and came over a rise, startling the herd of horses into loping off. Patti’s mare tried to follow, and I told Patti to pull her head around to stop her. She wouldn’t give her head, instead she fought the bit, stiffened her neck and began backing up, still resisting Patti’s pull on the rein. Suddenly the mare reared and went over backwards, slamming Patti’s head against the ground. Her arms and legs stiffened out and her eyes rolled back in her head. I jumped off my horse, went to her, and tried to get her to respond. She finally came around, and I talked to her as she lay there. I wanted to call 911, but she insisted she was alright. She asked what happened and I told her what the mare had done. She seemed to understand. Eventually I helped her sit up, and she looked around, asking where she was. I told her we were in the pasture, and pointed south at our house which was in plain view. We talked for a few minutes and she asked again what had happened. I told her again. She then asked again where we were. I told her again. Then I called 911. Before the ambulance got to us, she had repeated the questions once more.

They strapped Patti to a back board, loaded her in the ambulance and struck off across the pasture for town, Patti protesting all the time. I took the horses back to the barn, then hopped in the pickup and drove to the hospital. When I got there, Patti was mad. They had checked her over, finding nothing wrong, just as she had predicted. Worse yet, they had cut her favorite shirt off her. Things got serious when they started to cut her boots off! She hollered, and If you know Patti you know when she says something in “that tone” it should be treated as a threat to your life. The paramedics backed off, quickly putting their scissors away. We went home, Patti saying “I told you I was alright” all the way.

A few weeks later, Patti was following me down a country lane as we rode one evening. I rode up out of the ditch, and not trusting Patti’s mare, I looked around in time to see her pitch Patti off as she lunged out of the ditch. Patti had barely hit the ground when she hollered, “I’m all right!” She didn’t want me calling 911 again. Besides, she was running out of shirts.