View Full Version : Idiot that I was, why am I still alive?

Dec. 18, 2009, 03:46 PM
You know that show on cable TV, "I Shouldn't Be Alive"? Well, growing up on a farm, I've had my share of those moments as well. And, I'm sure many of you have, too. Here's a few of the bonehead moments I somehow escaped in my earlier years. Let's hear some of yours.

Shooting rifles out in the pasture with my teenage buddies, I shot my 30-30 at an old tractor tire carcass. A few seconds later I actually felt the shock wave as the bullet whizzed past my head after ricocheting off the tire.

Again, as a stupid kid, walking across a log over a very deep ravine because I was too lazy to go around, I slipped and went down on my hands and knees. Then slipped under the log. Had to possum-walk the rest of the way over underneath the log to get to safety.

Playing on top of the bailed hay stack in the barn, my friend and I decided to slip down into a seam between the bales to see how far down we could go and still climb back up. A couple of yards down in the bales on top fell over blocking us in. Using every bit of strength we had, we somehow managed to push our way back up through the bales and get to safety. No, did NOT tell mom about that one.

Got a bull angry on purpose once (just because I could) and it pinned me against the barbed wire. My screaming must have startled it, because it backed off and I was able to grab a fence post and scurry over with only torn jeans and flannel shirt.

Dec. 18, 2009, 04:06 PM
Went out into a pasture to "play with" a young bull. Wasn't full grown, had been around since it was a baby and I figured it would be alright. My cousin was with me and it head butted her a couple of times, gently. That was all fine and good until she retreated and the bull suddenly decided to charge. We both sprinted across the pasture and jumped the nearest fence.

My best friend and I liked to gallop pell mell through the woods down any trail we could find (there were 800+ acres). We made trails if we couldn't find any and jumped anything in our paths. One time, came across a steep hill trail with 2 trees fallen across it. We paused, eyed the logs from a distance sizing it up to be about 3'-3'6" each and 2(ish strides). We had no idea what was on the other side and the trail was muddy and the footing slightly washed out and uneven but we were young and dumb. Picked up a nice forward canter and up and over we went :D (*we were usually very good about checking footing and investigating both sides of new fences before jumping) On another day we decided it would be a good idea to jump a 4ft log on this same pair of horses, who had very little experience at that height. Completely unsupervised. A 10 year old kid caught us and asked us if she could take a turn and try too :eek:

Was stupid enough to hack out in the cow pasture on the 3rd day I backed a 12h pony. Took a HOT Standardbred/TB cross with me. Ran into the same donkeys that almost got my friend and her horse killed (that's a whole 'nother story!) Well of course the donkeys charged us, the cows stampeded towards us as well. I didn't think a pony could move that fast! We were neck and neck with the TBx mare galloping the full length of the ridge, down the steepest part of the hill and all the way down the road to the gate.

And then there was the time we tried to race a train (tracks ran right next to another cow pasture and the cross country field.) Not a smart idea with two green ponies...My friend's pony wouldn't steer to the open gate and very narrowly missed crashing through the barbed wire fence. (Pony was bucking like mad but finally skidded to a stop a few feet from the fence)

Dec. 18, 2009, 04:56 PM
Stupid kid story (BUT I was with an obviously equally stupid adult who should be blamed). We were out in the trails (rural city park- hundreds of acres). We got a little lost and couldn't find our way back but knew we had passed this bridge WAAAAY up in the air. HUGE ravine under it. Terrifying. So not only did we decide to cross it horseback, the bridge was obviously rickety and had holes in it. The adult went first and I followed a few strides behind. As we got past the middle I hear the boards breaking way under my horses feet! I had no idea whether to speed up or not. We kept going with boards falling off the bridge behind us and flew off the end onto solid ground. There were literally huge gaps of bridge missing. :eek:

Dec. 18, 2009, 05:04 PM
I think there’s a Darwin award out there for you.

Zu Zu
Dec. 18, 2009, 05:07 PM
Too funny !!! AND FRIGHTENING ! I almost kill :eek:myself on a daily basis ! But it doesn't slow me down !:lol:

Dec. 18, 2009, 05:32 PM
I haven't been TOO stupid. But one time I was riding in a mid thigh length parka that had an elastic cinch arond the middle and zipped all the way up. I cinched it, and flipped the bottom part of the coat over the cantle. I rode for a while and then went to get off. I pulled my right leg over Betsy's neck and kicked my other foot out of the stirrup and slid down. My jacket was still on the cantle and I ended up suspended above the ground. Betsy looked at me hangig there and just sighed. Luckily I wasn't by myself and my friend gave me boost and unhooked me.

Dec. 18, 2009, 06:10 PM
I think there’s a Darwin award out there for you.

Most of us, over course of our lives, had had our names partially engraved in one or two.

Dec. 18, 2009, 06:22 PM
Down here we call that the " Hey Ya'll, watch this" award.

Dec. 18, 2009, 07:10 PM
I haven't been TOO stupid. But one time I was riding in a mid thigh length parka that had an elastic cinch arond the middle and zipped all the way up. I cinched it, and flipped the bottom part of the coat over the cantle. I rode for a while and then went to get off. I pulled my right leg over Betsy's neck and kicked my other foot out of the stirrup and slid down. My jacket was still on the cantle and I ended up suspended above the ground. Betsy looked at me hangig there and just sighed. Luckily I wasn't by myself and my friend gave me boost and unhooked me.

AHAHAHA that sounds like something I would do! I tried to stop a freaked out loose horse one time... with myself. Needless to say I ended up a pancake, and the horse ended up running around for another half hour or so before somebody caught it.

Dec. 19, 2009, 06:09 AM
Working cows one day, didn't yell that I was in the chute trying to unjam the bottom of the drop gate. Brother in law turned one of the bulls into the chute area and I turned around just in time to see an old marsh bull bearing down on me with THAT look in his eye. That was not the stupid part (well, not telling anyone I was in the chute wasn't really bright), this was:

Rather than trying to scramble out of the chute, I picked up a palm frond and began to beat the bull about the head and neck with it to keep him off me. He must have been slightly nonplussed about the attack, because he shook his head and backed up a step, giving them time to lift the gate behind me so that I could slip through, but boy did I get a tongue lashing for that one! I just didn't think!

Mostly we were pretty careful, though - marsh cattle are wild!

strawberry roan
Dec. 19, 2009, 06:49 AM
I am reading these and saying to myself "oh no! oh no!"!! Amazing some of the close calls. :eek:

Dec. 19, 2009, 07:19 AM
Body half in a pigpen trying to grab and pet the piglets belonging to an irritated sow. That one got me a good hard smack and that long walk back to the house to explain what stupid thing I'd just done. (the walk of shame)

Betting cousins on who can run the fastest through the bull's field.

I don't think the grownups ever found out about that one.

Someone already mentioned playing on round bales - we all played in the hay barn and it was stupid. Good way to get squished.

Climbing trees, building forts - oh - I remember the first time I found a leech on me after swimming in the creek!

Galloping across hayfields - no helmets, shorts, keds and bareback. Amazingly - as a middle aged woman I've become a big scaredy cat compared to my youth.

Squirting each other with milk at milking time. That was fun - but earned us a smack or lecture from an adult.

Dec. 19, 2009, 07:51 AM
I rode for years without a helmet - including the day that I came off FIVE consecutive times. :eek:

I once when riding my bicycle downhill as a young kid decided to stick my foot in the front tire just to see what would happen. :o I had an image of it sort of making a sound that's a cross between a musical instrument and a washboard. (Disclaimer: That is NOT the sound that will follow this experiment. Trust me. Do not try this at home. :no:)

I rode for over 2 years on Bam Bam the half-Arab, half-lunatic gelding with the safety releases on my saddle WIRED SHUT. He was far from a quiet old reliable, too, and to this day holds the record for giving me involuntary dismounts (including the 5'er mentioned above). This piece of idiocy was actually the idea of my first trainer. When my el-cheapo tack (saddle, bridle, pad, bit, and all the trimmings for just over $100. What a deal! :eek::no:) started having the stirrups simply fall off sometimes in lessons because the safety releases on the bars gave up all semblance of any tension and would just flop around, she told me that wiring them shut was a good thing that would fix this. :eek: I still cringe to think of a few of the things that first instructor practiced.

I bought a 13-year-old unbroke ASB because he was black. Person selling assured me he could be trained in no time, no trouble, as he was smart. Big, black horse, uneducated (or rather miseducated, only a few years with bad trainer above) young rider. I was sure it was the Black Stallion, Part Two! :no: He was indeed smart, smart enough to have figured out that the many people who had TRIED to break him over the years, about whom I wasn't informed, had quit and put him away as soon as he acted up. He had a full-blown "throwing fits and acting threatening toward people gets you out of work" button installed by the time I got him, and I was clueless. Thank God that was the same week, unrelated, that I started lessons with my good trainer, who took one look at his eye and told me before he had done a thing that he was dangerous under pressure. It turned out okay, though never perfect, but only with her expertise and some serious sessions along the way. Had I tried to deal with that horse myself, I am confident he literally would have killed me.

Dec. 19, 2009, 09:39 AM
We were in a barn on top of a pretty steep hill. The arena doors (1 set anyway) opened into a gorgeus 5 acre paddock. The BM had managed to run a bunch of schoolies into the arena, penning them in. We wanted to let 1 loose into the paddock while keeping the other 4 in the arena. (you already know this isnt going to go well). :rolleyes:

I put one hand on the door frame and 1 hand on the sliding door. I let horse #1 out and grabbed hold again. Horses #2 & #3 decided to make a break for it. They crashed into me (Im not particuly small) and pushed me partway down the hill.

The only reason I wasnt trampeled is that it was muddy. I slid on my feet like mud ski ing out of the doorway while 4 schoolies ran merrily down the hill, snorting & bucking.

Ever tried to recapture 4 schoolies from a 5 acre paddock? :lol:

The bad thing is I wasnt a stoopid kid. I am apparently a stoopid adult. :eek:

Sing Mia Song
Dec. 19, 2009, 10:11 AM
Oh, boy, where shall I start?

Hacking out on my pony, deciding that it was within her abilities to jump a 4' wooden gate. We took said gate of its hinges as she hit the top, and I was catapulted out of the saddle like a human cannonball. Chipped both front teeth, poor pony ended up with scrapes and a solid refusal tendency. Stupid, stupid.

Same pony, bombing around a cornfield, playing exercise rider. I had just gotten back from vacation at Saratoga and was trying to emulate the gallop guys who would stand straight up in their short stirrups, leaning against the reins like a water-skier. They made it look so easy, but pony ducked left, I toppled right, and pony galloped back to the barn a mile or so away.

New horse, new barn, hacking out and placing my caliente helmet on a rock so that I could go jump stone walls bareheaded while listening to me Walkman.

Just last year--hitching up the gooseneck and getting frustrated at just missing the ball and hitch. Decided to crank the trailer down and inch the truck back, hoping it would drop down over the ball and lock into place. Got out of truck and stood behind tailgate. Suddenly, trailer starts moving forward, or so it seems. Realize that truck is moving backward, because it is STILL IN REVERSE. Luckily, tailgate hits spare tire of trailer, and I am thin enough to fit in the ensuing space. Spend next hour trembling at my close call. :no: I am now a middle-aged idjit.

Dec. 19, 2009, 10:22 AM
The one that immediately comes to mind is the tree with the low hanging branches. Obviously the perfect height for a small child to drop off the branch and onto the back of a horse. A moving horse.

Sing Mia Song, your trailer story reminds me of when I was feeding the other day. I have a few horses that live out and one old guy gets an extremely large/heavy bucket of mush for dinner. So, being lazy, I want to drive as close to the fenceline as I can so I don't have to carry said bucket too far. So in my NEW TRUCK, which I haven't quite figured out the size of, I am half in, half out of the truck, trying to get as close as possible to the fence, where the horses are milling around, waiting to be fed. I positioned the truck perfectly and hopped out, forgetting that the truck wasn't in park, and the truck is heading straight for the fence. I did manage to jump back into the truck just before it took down the fence and the horses. The only good thing was that SO, who was worred it was "too much truck" for me, didn't witness this incredible act of stupidity...

Dec. 19, 2009, 10:29 AM
Many stories involving horses and water.

Had a young horse who didn't like to walk through water/puddles. I worked on this problem, found puddles when possible to work on, but he remained resistant about crossing them. Would usually jump them instead, eventually. Took him to the lake, to "get him over it". Danced back and forth on the shore, me insisting that he enter the water. Eventually, he did. At that point, found out that it was not the actual water that he was afraid of. It was the water to land interface, the shoreline. So on land, he spooked away from the water. And in water, he spooked away from the land. He landed in the water after jumping the shoreline, at the full run. He stopped running when his feet left the lake bottom, and started swimming instead, away from the shore. A "first time swimmer". At that point, I found out that he had lost steering as well as brakes, and we were heading across the lake, powerless to turn back to shore (at which point on successfully navigating the width of the lake (about 500 yards), he probably would spook away from the opposite shore). The lake was weed choked, and people regularly drowned by getting caught up in the weeds in this lake. We were approaching weed beds. Hanging on one rein and floating above his swimming body and hanging onto his mane, the drag of my body turned him onto his side for a moment. I was actually about to abandon ship at that point and attempt to swim to shore in my riding apparel, but I liked my saddle too much. When he righted himself from the sideways thrashing, we were heading parallel to the shore rather than directly across the lake. Ah ha! Semi success in steering. I dragged on his mane again, to turn him sideways in the water again, and made the next 90 degree turn, to head back to the original shore, our point of entry. He was near exhaustion when we got back, but he was still was sticky and reluctant to go over the shoreline water to land interface. Then we had to hack home, about 5 miles. Did I mention this was early springtime? Rather cool weather. I never took him to water again. Sold that one cheap. Not a nice horse, not an intelligent horse.

Dec. 19, 2009, 11:22 AM
Swinging on old vines over a ravine. Sister's broke, she fell, was so scared she peed in her pants (didn't get hurt, though). Couldn't tell Mom, so she put them in the dryer and wore them for the rest of the day.

Sneaking out in the middle of the night with horse's and jumping bareback over friends picnic tables in backyard. Same night, rode horses in the the gas station, ran them over the bell treadle and told the service guy to "fill 'er up". Nearly fell off laughing (he didn't think it was quite as funny as we did).

Watermark Farm
Dec. 19, 2009, 12:12 PM
Reading these stories gives me gray hairs....

As a kid, we'd lay our coats over a 4-foot barbed wire fence and JUMP it (which our horses did beautifully, thank god) so we could get access to a 3,000 acre cow pasture. The gate was locked. It was also 4-feet, but we didn't jump it because it seemed too solid. So we jumped the barbed wire many time in and out.

Dec. 19, 2009, 01:49 PM
NancyM, that was a scary story. You and your horse could have both died that day. Thank God you were OK. You could sell that story to Reader's Digest and make some money.

Dec. 19, 2009, 07:13 PM
I have a very, very long list of various being-dangled-by-Kali activities.

When I was about 6 I made a snow fort. The city snowplough came along and dumped a truckload of snow over top of it, the snow fort collapsed, and I was buried.

I started digging up.

Dec. 19, 2009, 07:40 PM
These are most excellent! I was (happily, I guess?!) raised to be a very cautious child, and never managed to get myself in any pickles as good as these, so I'll just sit back and enjoy the scary tales! Keep em coming!

Dec. 19, 2009, 07:54 PM
My entire childhood was an adventure in avoiding death.

I was the youngest of 5 kids and, when my dad got a transfer, my parents were looking for place that was on a body of water (because we were water skiiers) and was roomy, to make room for the brood.

Eventually, we landed on the east side of Seneca Lake in a Greek revival house that accomodated all of us comfortably. And we had lots and lots of room in the north 40 to be kids: boy, did we ever make use of that acreage!

There was a huge main barn, the biggest one in the county. It served as our stomping grounds for many years and, although dad was an engineer and not at all a gentleman farmer, the barn was occasionally rented as a storage facility for hay.

So, there was the time I snuck a smoke on the peak of a shit-load of hay ( I may have been 9 y.o. at the time!) and it was a no small amount of hay.

And there were the many escapades that involved swinging over the great expanse of the barn from a ladder perched high on the hay loft, the massive rope "swing" with a knot as a seat, careening us many feet across the expanse of the barn. We were nuts! And totally overjoyed.

At one point, we had a pully on a rope that would provide a rush when we caught a ride from the top of the hay loft to the floor below. Crazy stuff. I did that one time when, for whatever reason, I lost my grip from the pulley and careened to the floor of the barn, probably at least 12 feet. Broke both my arms in the process!

Holy smokes! I was an accident waiting to happen, but I wouldn't have traded one single moment for one of absolute safety. Kids need to be spending more time outside, away from the boob tube and video games (and, for chrissakes, can we make texting disappear???), and exploring the north 40, climbing trees, making dams in brooks....it was all so magical for me, the absolute BEST childhood ever. I was banged up, for sure, but every, single ER visit was the result of an amazing, pleasurable activity!

Dec. 19, 2009, 10:57 PM
About 11 or 12 y.o. there was a small wooden boat that the farmhands used to go across a pond to check on the spill gate on the other side. One day I decided to row the boat out into the lake to go fishing. The boat didn't have an anchor (didn't need one), so I got a concrete block and about 10 feet of rope. Tied the block on one end, and tied the other end to the side if the boat. Oh, happy day. I was all set to go fishing now. So, I rowed out into the pond, found my spot and heaved the cinder block over the side.

Didn't take very long to figure out that I had misjudged the depth of the pond. The block began pulling the boat over, and when I leaned over to grab the rope, down she went. Just like the Titanic. I had on boots, flannel shirt and jeans. They got heavy real fast, but I knew I would get skinned if I took them off and lost them. So, I abandoned my rod and tackle box, and the boat, which was now completely submerged, and swam for it.

This was in South Florida, where every farm was surrounded by drainage canals, so my mother made sure I took swimming lessons as soon as I could walk. So, I got to the shore OK. Walked around half the rest of the afternoon drying out.

A day or two later, I heard my grandad and the foreman talking about what had happened to the boat. They were so mad. They thought someone had snuck onto the farm in the night and stole it.

I never said a word.

My grandad, the farm and the old pond are long gone now, but somewhere west of Lake Park, Florida, probably under one of the fairways of Ibis Country Club, are the remains of a small farm boat, a 2-piece fiberglass fishing pole, and a small box of really nice lures.

Dec. 20, 2009, 01:58 AM
OMG I grew up on a farm that we rented just the house at for 18 years.
My brother and I would have a blast. There were hanging ropes in the
barn so we would grab them and fly from one hay mowe to the other.

The feed bunk for the heifers was just outside an upper door in the barn. We would grab a rope and play tarzan letting go, landing in the feed
bunk full of hay. We built some amazing hay forts.

Played cowboy and indians on our ponies all the time. Chased cattles
jumped creeks, ravines, logs, built forts in the woods made forts in
the woodpile. If there was a place to build a fort we built a fort.

I learned to tuck and role as I was always the indian and would get
shot off my pony. or I was always the outlaw getting wounded.
Geesh thoose ponies carried us for hours on end day in and day out.

Dec. 20, 2009, 09:06 AM
When I was a kid, we used to go out in the pasture to bring in the horses to ride. The pasture was huge, about 120 acres or so, so it was a long hike sometimes. We would climb on the horses bareback and race back to the gate with only the halters and leadropes. The scariest part was the sliding skid stop at the gate. We had absolutely no control over those horses and amazingly we never got hurt.

Dec. 20, 2009, 11:40 AM
You mean it is dangerous to build forts in the hayloft? We used to make a virtual warren out of the one at the barn when we were kids! In retrospect I'm kind of surprised that nobody ever told us to stop.

I also used to hop on my horse bareback in the field to bring him in - only he didn't stop at the gate. There was a coop next to the gate so we'd jump that and then gallop right to the door of the barn. He liked doing it so much I didn't even bring a lead after a while. Lots of fun and not as dangerous as it sounds - although no helmet of course - but that was back in the day when they were optional. ;)

We used to spend hours riding all over the place on our ponies too - having lots of great times. Probably doing plenty of stupid things I can't even remember. Cowboys and Indians was a favorite. Gallop close to the necking couples in the tall grass was another. Loved to see them pop up all terrified and disheveled as a bunch of preteen hooligans raced past them.

Probably the dumbest thing I ever did was try to start a fire in the Franklin stove by just putting kerosene on the kindling. I hated rolling up newspaper so that was my brilliant solution. It worked but when my parents walked in just as the fire started (oddly it took time and lots of kerosene) I thought I was a goner for sure! :lol::eek:

Dec. 20, 2009, 11:49 AM
NancyM, that was a scary story. You and your horse could have both died that day. Thank God you were OK. You could sell that story to Reader's Digest and make some money.

Want another one?

I had a VERY good showjumper as a teenager +. Took him into a barn to get a few weeks of intensive schooling from a BNT, away from home as a 17 yr old. His legs got a bit stocked up, and the barn staff told me to go and soak him in the creek (nearby). Gave me explicit directions..."You can't miss it". I followed the directions, found a body of water at the pre-described place. It didn't look very inviting, but it was EXACTLY where I had been told to go, and they said they took horses in there ALL THE TIME. I was bareback, in a halter, with a single rope off the halter (direct rein one way, neckrein the other). I asked my dear horse to slide down the bank to the water's edge, which he did for me. He hesitated, but I insisted that he go in, which he did. No bottom to it, it was a back slough on the creek. We sunk. He was swimming, except that there were sunken logs in it, branches and lord knows what else. I guided that horse with the halter rope, turning back to our point of entry to try to get out. He couldn't get out, no purchase on the slippery slope, and no bottom to the pond. Got his fronts out, but couldn't get the hind end out. I stayed on his back throughout. Turned him back into the pond, in an attempt to get across to the other side (only about 30 feet across), but I got pulled under at one point, got hit on the head with a flailing submerged branch (no hardhat for this excursion). Hung onto the mane until we surfaced again. Guided him across that pond, with the halter and rope, neckreining as we swam, getting caught up in more submerged junk on the way. Got across, got out, both exhausted, covered with stinking mud. Let ourselves out through a farmer's field gate, out onto the road, and walked home like that. His legs REALLY filled up the next day, and I was shown where they soak horses legs in the creek, a nice firm gravel bottom, about a foot of water. That was a VERY VERY good horse, I can't think of another who would have been guided with so little bridle under such conditions.

Dec. 20, 2009, 12:30 PM
Mounting our ponies by running up behind them and vaulting off their rumps Lone Ranger style. :eek:

Dec. 20, 2009, 12:39 PM
NancyM, does your insurance agent read this forum? I'm guessing not. :D

Dec. 20, 2009, 03:00 PM
NancyM, for you it's NEVER safe to go back in the water!!!

In Texas, as kids, we never wore helmets. Didn't know what they were, actually, till much later. My first riding "accident" happened a couple of days before we were due to vacation in Colorado. I rode my mare as fast as I could right into the low-hanging branches of a plum tree. Knocked me right off -- and out. When I came to, Molly was standing over me, looking down her big farm chunk nose at me, just waiting for me to wake up.

We played cowboys & Indians, cops & robbers, hide & seek. Naturally all of it involved lots of galloping, hiding, whooping. We had a pond deep enough for the horses to swim in but not very wide. No fear of getting lost or stuck in it.

Some of the dumbest things I ever did was once we moved to Colorado for good. I liked to pick the green horses to ride on gathers. Bad idea, since the old cowboy who supposedly broke these things usually quit halfway through the job. Brakes and steering were not guaranteed.

One day I picked "Arbolito" to ride, having been assured he was "broke". First mistake. Second mistake was deciding to try riding him in a bosal and mecate. Third mistake was actually getting on him.

About ten or fifteen minutes into sorting pairs, Arbolito decided he'd had enough and headed for home. "Home" was about 5 miles away, with an old barbed-wire cross fence, a 20 foot wide irrigation canal, train tracks and two more sets of barbed-wire cross fence in between. Within a few steps, Arbolito was up to full speed, dowhill towards the first cross fence and I had no power to stop or turn him. The bosal meant nothing to him. It was all a worst-case scenario -- hit the fence, jump the fence, swerve into the canal, get tangled in the remnants of an old corral -- none of it was good.

I decided it was time for a good act of contrition (you Catholics know!) and make peace with God before Arbolito killed me. Thankfully, as he reached the fenceline, he decelerated rapidly, turned, and dumped me. When the cowboy I was sorting with caught up with me, he found me kneeling in a pile of cow crap, dazed. I knew my name, the day of the week, but could not figure out why we were out on a prairie.

I saddled up another horse and finished the day's work. After that, I stuck with the horses I knew were "broke".

On another fall gather, I was following a foursome of cows who did not want to go home. When they crossed the river, I went in after them, just as one of the hands saw me and tried warning me away. About the time he caught my attention, my mare's head disappeared under water momentarily as she stepped off the sandy shelf in the river.

Ray had a good laugh at my expense and I suffered a cold ride back to the ranch.

Dec. 21, 2009, 10:14 AM
Another morning reading COTH and waiting for the sun to get up. And another horse/water story from Nancy.

The farm was near Victoria, BC where I grew up, quite close to the ocean (and the weed choked lake). We rode on the beach often, took the horses swimming often. It wasn't "legal", occasionally got chased by the cops, but we were usually faster than they were, and had the boltholes well scouted out if somebody made a fuss to get off the beach before the federales arrived in force. Since the local septic systems drained directly onto the beach and there were signs up warning that the beach and water were polluted, I never saw the big deal about the occasional horse bun on the beach. It was a great place to run a horse, or a bunch of horses. Fun fun.

At 12/13 years old, my friend and I took our horses to the beach for a run on the sandbars. The tide was at negative, which gave large sandbars. We ran down one that was about a mile or so long, ending in a point. We didn't feel much like turning around and retracing our steps, when the beach access we were aiming to use was right across an expanse of water across from the far end of the sandbar. We were looking right at it across 100 feet of water which was "probably" wading deep. So, having been swimming many times before, we figured we'd just cross the water, swim if we needed to. We had tack on, yikes! Plan on oiling the saddles when we got home.

So we started out to cross the water. What we did not know was that with the action of the tide on such a large sandbar, that the point of the sandbar tended to be eroded from underneath, to form a major drop off. Practically a rip tide under there. Divers had actually been killed in this particular spot, sucked under there, and the sand dropped down on top of them. Nasty. From our point of view riding through it, the solid footing just dropped out suddenly from underneath us. Which was fine, our horses could swim it. Except that my pony forgot how to swim, all of a sudden.

Was it the constriction of the girth that effected her? I still dunno why, 35 years later, why that pony suddenly would not swim. She sank, like a stone. Disappeared entirely under the water. My friend's horse was swimming along solidly, no problems. My pony sunk vertically, when her hind feet finally touched bottom, she would rocket skyward like she had been shot from a submarine, burst out into the air, paddle a couple of strokes, then sink again in the same manner. I hung onto her mane as she disappeared downwards, floating above her (humans float better than horses do), and again she rocketed upwards, a few swimming strokes, then down again. We got across the water that way, until it got shallow enough so that she could wade again. When we got out onto the shore, my stirrups had pulled off the stirrup bars (probably on the first rocketing session) and were still attached to the saddle by the very tips of the leathers folded through the keepers on the side of the saddle flaps, with the buckles run down around the stirrups, with the stirrups dragging on the ground on either side. Couldn't believe it, picked them both up, reset them on the bars. It was a long wet ride home. Biggest show of the year was a week later.

Dec. 21, 2009, 10:38 AM
It's still dark here, and I am a fast typist these days. Here's another one.

Same beach as the above story, several years later. At Pony Club camp, a bunch of the senior girls and their horses, turned loose to have an afternoon at the beach. I had a borrowed horse for that camp, a palamino puke of a horse. Most of the other girls were on OTTBs, so we thought we should probably organize a horse race on the sandbar. Me and my horse, and the other palamino were kind of disqualified from racing, due to breed, so we were the "palamino finish line", and the rest of the girls headed off down the sandbar, a mile away, lined up, and started the race.

What we did not know was that one of the OTTBs (who had not been long off the track) WAS actually crazy. He had been well known as "crazy" when he was on the track, so a trainer got rid of him by selling him to a little girl as a riding horse. His name was "Arthur". The six TBs were running down to us, I forget who won. But Arthur was not going to stop, he was only just getting started, and his brain was on neutral.

We had set up our finish line some fair distance in front the stone sided boat ramp. Concrete ramp, about 20 feet wide, about 3' high off the beach. Not impossible to "bank" it on an eventer with a functional brain and at a rational pace, but Arthur did not qualify in this respect, especially under these circumstances. So Arthur and his pilot passed us at full speed heading straight for the boat ramp. His rider managed to get him turned into the water, rather than collide with the boat ramp. The water did not slow him down, he entered it at full speed. Eventually, he flipped over, arse over tea kettle, and both he and his rider were submerged. And separated. His rider waded to shore, shaken. Arthur reappeared, still full of run, and now unfettered by a rider. Came back to shore on the far side of the boat ramp, and headed off down the beach alone. The palamino finish line followed him as fast as we could, but he far distanced us.

Several miles down the beach, we found him. He was on the far side of a huge log jam, trying to climb a vertical 100 foot cliff. Did I mention he was not right in the head? There was no way out from behind the log jam, and no way out up the cliff. He had gone over the log jam to get there. The log jam was multiple log layers high, and probably 15 feet wide. I got off my palamino, and handed her to the other end of the finish line, and walked over the logs, and took Arthur's reins. Settled him a bit, then led him BACK over the log jam. Figured he'd break a leg for sure. But other than a helicopter lift with a sling, there were no other options, and he had made it over the first time, alone. Much the same as attempting to lead a horse over a cattle guard. He stepped lightly on the logs beside me, never slipped down between any of them, not a mark on him. Unbelievable. We ponied him back to his rider, who never really knew exactly what had happened, but was not real keen on getting back on him to ride home. But she did, and we rode home relatively physically unscathed, but incredulous that all had survived. The Pony Club camp officials never heard much about it.

Dec. 21, 2009, 10:53 AM
Riding our ponies bareback with no bridle, sitting backwards, at night. At least we were in a paddock. :eek:

Dec. 21, 2009, 12:02 PM
NancyM -it's a wonder the human race has even survived all these millenia! LOL. Well told tales!

Dec. 22, 2009, 11:57 PM
NancyM, you're my kind of girl. ;)

Dec. 23, 2009, 11:08 AM
NancyM, you really know how to spin a yarn! Truly enjoyable stories!

Like someone else posted, kids today need to turn off the txtng and learn about the outdoors! I know of small children whose mother's won't let them get dirty, sad to say. Helicopter parenting seems to be the norm now. :(

I also agree that as a kid, I did things on/with horses that today?...Oy vey! I wonder how I did it and still on this mortal plane. As a child, 'cowabunga' was my motto! Today, I'm kind of a sissy. I don't like it but the bod won't play ball, nor the mind. :cry:

My first remembered "Oh, God, Oh God, Oh, God" experience was with a runaway pony on the ranch. Come to find out, that is what the pony did with every one of us ranch kids. He'd runaway, try to wipe you off on a tree trunk, duck under a low branch, etc. to initiate you into cowgirl-dom. After the initiation, he'd be fine and work like the other horses but he had to size you up first. When he died years later, it was like losing a member of the family. The whole family grieved.

I used to:

Stand up on the horse, trying to balance. Sometimes catching the top of the shade and swinging on and off the horse.

Lay down on my horse with a good book in hand and read, while they grazed or ate their feed.

Jumping fences (the real kind, not in an arena) bareback, no helmet, halter on the horse.

Racing down country roads at top speed, still bareback.

Jump an irrigation canal because I usually ended up on the wrong side and needed to get to the other side. The canal would usually be full and running full tilt.

Go ride the pastures and not tell anyone where I was going and be gone all day.

Us kids in 4-H used to swap horses all the time, you never quite knew what you were going to get.

Riding across stock ponds.

Having a horse pitch with me while going down a seriously downhill slope. I don't like heights in the first place and this just took the cake! That's why I don't do jumpers!

Ponying my horses out of the pickup window.

Yeah...those were the days....*sigh*.....

Dec. 23, 2009, 12:52 PM
I spent a summer volunteering at a mustang rescue that took horses for all manner of reasons - some of them had been neglected, some were right from auction, and some where just not right in the head (from abuse, usually).

I was leading one of the geldings back from the pasture to bring him in and work with him. We entered the front of the barn, and something set him off.

Imagine a long (60') barn aisle 6" deep in shavings and sawdust (for whatever reason they shoveled bedding into the stalls from the aisle). I hung onto the lead rope and waterskied down the aisle at the other end of a galloping horse, alternately face down and on my knees. There was a 3' opening in the barn doors at the other end; he kept going through and banked hard left, which meant that I slammed into the door sideways, then whipped around 180 degrees and out the door after him, into mud next. Luckily, my body hitting the door was what his brain needed to come back to reality, and he stopped a few feet later. I had shredded my jeans from friction and pulled every muscle imaginable, but I brought him back into the barn and we had a 10 minute discussion about polite ground manners...

Dec. 23, 2009, 01:08 PM

Dec. 23, 2009, 04:49 PM
Where do I start on the list of my transgressions? One memorable time was riding my mare when she decided to run away and into the old barn. It was a convert cow barn so the door had a very low ceiling and was quite narrow. Oh for the days when I was limber. Managed to kick my feet out of the stirrups and draw my knees up next to pommel of the saddle and get my body and head down along side her neck. Made it through the door with just a scrape along my spine.

Or the time I took a friend riding with me and put her on my mare. I pulled a gelding out of the pasture that probably hadn't been ridden in 3 years. Tacked everyone up and headed up the road to the riding arena. Didn't worry about my mare, I could tell you within 2 inches where she might start cantering and when she would stop. However, didn't want to canter that day since my friend was a novice rider. Both horses started cantering. I went to stop my gelding knowing my mare would stop with him. My right rein broke. I rode western at that time so grabbed the horn with one hand and reached under horse's neck to grab the left rein with my right hand. Stopped cantering and walked the rest of the way up to the arena. We repaired my rein and rode for the afternoon. Since I knew going home could be a little problematic, I asked a friend, who was a excellent rider, to ride my mare back down to the farm. As Tim and I were untacking the horses, a stallion, kept on the property, broke out of his new hot wire pen and came galloping down the hill towards us. I was pulling the gelding in the tack room and Tim was trying to keep the stallion off my mare with a 2x4. Both horses broke free from us and went through a barb wire gate with the stallion chasing after them. Did I mention that my mother was watching from the top of the hill in her car while all this was happening?

Eventually everyone came to a stop nearby so Tim and I could get in the pasture and finish untacking our 2. The stallion and farm owner was called to come catch him and fix the gate.

Dec. 23, 2009, 05:18 PM
I am reading these and saying to myself "oh no! oh no!"!! Amazing some of the close calls. :eek:

Me too. I hate it when after the fact (or in the middle of it!) I realize I've just done something really stupid and/or dangerous. The guilt I heap on myself... These stories make me cringe (but am still curiously riveted).