Day Writing by Heather Hamilton-Maude: Spring Wrecks: The corral post

It was a wet spring as I recall, though I wasn’t all that old. We lived down what was 20 miles of ungraveled road at the time, with a soil type locally called gumbo. The stuff was simultaneously slick and sticky; it would build up on your tires until they wouldn’t turn at the 20 mph speed that also prevented it from shooting you out of the ruts and straight into the ditch and pasture beyond.

We were sorting something, and my dad and his horse, Brownie, were cutting a cow out in the correl. Brownie was a leggy, thoroughbred looking gelding that was rough as a cob to ride. But, he was as solid and honest as horses come, and was flat quick when he needed to jump out and cut or stop a cow. I know, I’ve fallen off of him more than once when he stopped a cow from going back.

Dad and Brownie did this massive jump to stop a cow from escaping through the corral gate, and BOOM, it sounded like a gun went off. It was actually my dad’s knee smacking the corral gate post as Brownie stopped the right cow.

That had to hurt.

At about this same time a storm cloud was building ominously to the west, which is probably what the rush was to begin with. My mom hit high gear with impressive force, even for her. In what felt like five minutes she had called the Newcastle ER to tell them we were on our way (you do this when you live 70 miles from an emergency room). She then hit about 55 mph, in reverse, backing our baby blue Cadillac sedan stuffed full of pillows from the house to the corral.

Upon screeching to halt, she basically shoved my dad in the backseat, and got what we all knew had to be a broken leg propped up with pillows in the gap between the front seats. I am assuming someone unsaddled Brownie as well in the middle of the excitement – our horses were always cared for before we were. My brother and I were told to load up, and we headed for Newcastle to have my dad checked out.

We typically made good time going anywhere, but when those first couple big, fat rain drops hit that Cadillac’s windshield we came as close to light speed as you can on a rutted up, ungraveled county road in northern Niobrara County, Wyo. My dad was pale, but it was hard to tell if he was in pain or fearful for his life. My mom wasn’t about to be stuck on the side of the road with an injured husband and two little kids for who knew how long.

We eventually made it to the ER, where X-Rays confirmed that my dad’s leg was not broken. Everything was fine, if sore. What a miracle!

Several hours later, likely after stopping at the grocery store and running a few more errands while we were in town, we headed home. The last 20 miles we went the requisite 20 mph, because it had indeed rained behind us.

A few years later we rebuilt that section of corral, and took out the gate where the incident took place. When we pulled the nails out of the post dad hit, it promptly fell over, broke off at ground level and solidifying what my dad said after his accident; “God broke that post to save my leg.”

Have a safe spring, everyone.