Gary Heintz: It got pretty western |

Gary Heintz: It got pretty western

I was so excited! The big day had finally arrived! My first big ride with my dad! Dad always rode on Sundays and up until now he never let me go along. I had been riding my pony Dynamite around town for most of the summer, so I guess he felt I could now handle riding with him.

One of Dad’s favorite destinations was the Miller farm, about four miles out of town. Usually Dad would ride out and Mom and I would drive out and we would spend the afternoon visiting. Dad would help with the milking while I played with my cousins. That was going to change today. I was going to ride!

Dad saddled his rangy, spooky bald-faced sorrel, then cinched up Dynamite. I had spent the summer riding bareback, so being six years old, this was one of the first times I was riding in a saddle, like a real cowboy! Dad’s horse was always looking for something to shy at, and getting past town and onto the railroad right-of-way took all of his attention, his horse jigging and blowing much of the time. Dynamite was in a trot, trying to keep up. Normally, trotting on Dynamite was fine when I rode bareback, but trotting while getting used to the saddle was a whole different deal. I ended up with a side ache by the time we were at the edge of town. We stopped to rest my side for a few minutes then started along the railroad tracks, Dynamite trotting the whole time, trying to keep up with Dad’s saddle horse. By the time we had gone a mile, I was again in pain. We had just crossed the highway and had gone a short distance when Dad stopped and helped me off Dynamite. We rested for a few minutes while the horses grazed on the grass on the edge of the ditch. Dad put me back on Dynamite, then started to mount his horse. That’s when things got western.

Dad’s horse was standing on the road, still trying to grab another mouthful of grass. Pulling his head up, Dad started to swing into the saddle. The horse again tried to reach for another bite, and pulled Dad off balance, his right foot grazing the horse’s rump. The horse exploded, sunfishing off the edge of the road down into the ditch. Dad never had a chance. He was thrown clear of the saddle, doing a complete somersault in the air before landing hard on his back in the ditch. The horse bucked out the other side of the ditch and headed for home. Dad struggled to his feet, trying to get his wind back. Dynamite, being a good pony, had not moved during the whole rodeo. He reached his limit though when a two-seater plane flew low overhead. Frightened, Dynamite roared through the ditch, following Dad’s horse. Dad gave me a quick riding lesson, hollering out directions on how to stop Dynamite. I made several circles before Dynamite was finally willing to stop.

We headed back to town, Dad walking and mumbling, describing how he was going to do away with his horse. When we finally reached the barn, dad gathered the horse up and put some serious miles on him. They came back into the yard later, the horse looking meek and Dad looking grim. Dad started looking meek too when Mom laid into him, something about wishing he would have landed on his head, maybe it would have knocked some sense into him. She wasn’t worried about him though, just me. Moms can be funny that way.


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