I grew up a farmer/rancher’s kid. When I was little, I was all about the horses and cattle. I spent days with my dad at the barn and would often ride horses with him. I still remember my very first horse: a big ole ugly grey horse, his name was Snowball, though he looked more like black ice. He was great though. In Snowball’s younger years I guess he had a lot of miles put on him. He was the gentlest horse I’ve ever swung a leg over, and I’m pretty sure he lived to be about 30.
When I was in 2nd grade, the school bus dropped me off at the barn and I asked my dad if we could go ride. Whether he actually had the time to go ride for the fun of it or not is still a mystery to me, but he made time, regardless. He saddled us up and put me on this gorgeous paint horse. I liked it because it was “pretty”. We rode around in the arena a while before going out in the pasture. Once we did get out in the open, my horse got a little…happy. He started to trot and I couldn’t slow him down. I was hardly four feet tall so my only hope was pulling back on the reins, which didn’t work apparently because then he started to run, hard. Then he started bucking and i lost both reins and just grabbed onto the horn and literally hung on for dear life.
He came to an abrupt stop when he saw the big pile of scrap metal ahead, which ultimately threw me, somersaulting, head-long into this pile of scrap. It should have killed me, but I was lucky enough to walk away with a scar on my chin. I ended up with some stitches, but we both know an angel was watching over us because if you saw this pile of scrap metal, you’d know, too, that it should have been much worse. I think my father was more traumatized than I was. He was off his horse and trying to catch mine before I could even notice was was happening. I remember seeing how upset he was so I told him it wasn’t his fault, because, well, it wasn’t. It wasn’t anyones fault. Accidents happen all the time.
I did become horse shy for a while after that. Not because I didn’t trust my dad, I stopped trusting horses. It would be a few years before I would fully get over what happened without tensing up everyone time I mounted a horse. I did get over it, though. Slowly but surely I began spending more time with the horses. Riding horses, in general, is my favorite pastime. It took me years to understand horses until one day I realized that they are a lot like people. They each have their own personality and are often unpredictable, which can result is wrecks and accidents. But that’s just a risk you’ve gotta be willing to take. Now, my favorite thing in the world is moving or sorting cows on horseback. To some people it’s stressful and too time consuming. But I love it. It relaxes me.
In fact, the other day, I was with my dad and it was just the two of us. We had to “sort some cattle” he said. What he didn’t say is that we had to sort 400 head by ourselves. We were at least three people short, but somehow we got it done, just the two of us. He called me “Pearl” a lot, which is his dog’s name, and I couldn’t comfortably sit down for a few days due to my sore hind parts, but it got done, nevertheless.
Spending time with my folks never use to mean much to me because I never thought about what it would be like to not have that luxury one day. Now, I cherish these times. Even if they get tense, because it’s always a learning experience. Our parents know more than we do, and always will. I didn’t realize this until I was about 22, but it’s true. It’s okay to not see eye-to-eye on everything, but its important to listen to them.
They lived in a time when patience was a necessity and anything worth having didn’t come easy. They lived through hard times without ever once posting about it on social media.
So this holiday season, hug your folks. Let them know how much they mean to you. Let them teach you something, even if it doesn’t quite interest you. Spend time with them and let them know how loved they are. After all, they’ve been putting up with you all this time and haven’t attempted to make your death look like an accident.