Today someone on Twitter came up with the bright idea of posting your most embarrassing moment on your blog so we could all revel in our mutual humiliation.
Oh, wait, that was me. But Tawna Fenske started it. And Susan Adrian chimed in. And I couldn’t let them suffer alone, right?
Anyway, I have so many choices it’s pretty tough to narrow it down, but since the college rodeo season is just wrapping up and it’s been cold and windy and spitting rain and snow for most of week, I naturally thought of
. Cody, Wyoming
Seems like everyone has rodeos that ‘like’ them, where they always draw a good calf, always get the top of the ground in the barrel racing, everything just seems to click. My younger sister's horse Desi absolutely loved the Choteau arena. For my husband, that rodeo was Dupree, South Dakota.
was always really good to me. Springdale, Washington
The first time I barrel raced there, my big sorrel horse was knocking out a pretty darn good run. First and second barrel were smooth and tight. We were hauling butt going into the third barrel. I checked him. And he went fwapp! Flat on his side. All four legs zipped out from under him. He went down so fast and so hard, in fact, that it gave me whiplash and I had to walk around campus for most of the next week in one of those stupid foam neck collars that people wear when they’re trying to fake an auto injury.
The last time I went to Cody it was, as usual, cold and windy and rainy. We loaded up to leave on Thursday night in the dark, in a downpour. My horse and I caught a ride with the Gleason brothers, Brad and Shawn. When they swung by to pick me up, we tossed everything into the topper on the back of their truck. I set my straw cowboy hat on the top of the pile.
We got into Cody late, grabbed what we needed for the night and went off to our respective motel rooms. The next day I saddled up and went to get my hat out of the pickup. Brad and Shawn were standing at the open topper door. When they saw me coming, they exchanged one of those guilty looks that makes you go, “Uh-oh”.
“Need something?” Brad asked.
“Just my hat,” I said.
They did another of those looks. Then Shawn pulled something from behind his back that looked like a piece of grubby white construction paper crumpled up into a ball.
“Uh, this hat?” he asked.
Oh, boy. Seems in all the rummaging around the night before, my hat had gone from the top of the pile of gear to the bottom. There wasn’t much I could do except flatten it out as much as possible and be glad the grandstand is a looonnng way from the roping chutes in Cody.
As it happened, it was the first year I roped on the buckskin mare we all called Nicki, except my husband, who affectionately referred to her as ‘the hellbitch’. And he didn’t even meet her until she was old and mellow. The day I roped on her in Cody she was not old and definitely not mellow, but I must say hauling her was good for my reflexes. She hadn’t managed to bite me in over a month.
I backed into the roping box, eyed my calf. The mare cranked her head around and tried to grab the toe of my boot with her teeth. I yanked on the reins. She lunged, flung her head up and almost smacked me in the face. I managed to regain control, reset, and nod my head.
I missed, of course. I generally did back in those days. But no worse than I usually missed, and usually people weren’t rolling on the ground laughing as I rode out of the arena.
“What’s going on?” I asked Shawn.
He could only gasp for air and point. A pair of team ropers were howling so hard, one of them fell off his horse. I took a look at myself in the rearview mirror of the closest pickup.
Oh. My. God.
Between the mangling in the truck and getting whacked by the mare’s head, my hat had flipped out. Literally. Both the front and the back were sticking straight up like I’d smacked face first into a door, then keeled straight over backwards and hit the floor.
Have I mentioned how glad I am that I grew up in the days before camera phones?