My horses have attitude.
Not all of them. Just the good ones. Seems like the better they get in the arena, the more obnoxious they get outside. Sort of like most professional athletes.
It’s possible it could also be genetic. My last three rope horses have all been tough little Roan Hancock mares. Betsy…well, she deserves a blog post all her own. It’s impossible to do justice to her sheer contrariness in less than a thousand words. Suffice to say my sister once rode into the arena at a high school rodeo with Betsy packing a five foot long weed in her mouth because none of us was tough enough to get it away from her.
But she was also the best I’ve ever roped on.
I got Scotty when she was nine years old. She was supposedly broke. She bucked me off twice in the first week. The second time, I didn’t even get all the way into the saddle. As I swung on, she spun left toward me, threw me head first off the other side, and hung me up in the stirrup. Lucky I wasn’t wearing the wool socks that make my boots fit real tight or we might not being having this conversation.
She also made me a roper by letting me run twenty calves a day without ever cheating or overheating. When she turned twenty-two I gave her to friends and she made a roper out of their daughter Hallie, too. Last I heard, she’s training a new kid to mount up on the run.
Hallie and Scotty
Now there’s Ember. She’s Betsy’s daughter. Scotty’s niece. Sixteen years old, been hauled a zillion miles and roped on at nearly as many rodeos. Saturday, she wouldn’t get in the trailer to go to the rodeo in Standoff. She spooked at the sponsor signs on the arena fences. She balked when I tried to ride into the roping box.
Then she scored perfect and gave me a shot so sweet it still makes me want to cry that I missed it.
Given all that, is it any wonder I have the occasional rodeo-related nightmare? Ninety-nine percent of the time it’s the same dream. I’m at the rodeo and suddenly they’re calling my name to compete and I either can’t find my horse, or she’s still at the trailer which is parked half a mile from the arena, uphill both ways.
In the other version, I realize the rodeo is about to start, I’m still at home, and my horse refuses to be caught.
There are other nightmares, of course. Like the one where Scotty slams into the back of the roping box so hard she busts the fence and they have to stop the whole rodeo to fix it.
Oh, wait. That really happened.
Or there’s the one where I’m riding a young horse and it suddenly flips upside down in the roping box.
Oh, right. That was in Cottage Grove. But we did recover nicely and still win a check.
The worst nightmare is the one where my psychologically-challenged barrel horse plasters himself to the front of the bucking chutes and refuses to move while the announcer mumbles, "I'm sure she'll get him going any minute now." Then he does go--straight to the fence behind the first barrel, where he locks up again.
Come to think of it, that’s why we never went back to Clearfield.
After acquiring Scotty, Hallie developed her own set of bad dreams. Like the one where she was practicing her goat tying dismount at night on the racetrack at the Fort Pierre rodeo grounds, and when she stepped off Scotty locked up the brakes, pulled back, and tore off into the pitch black maze around the race horse barns as the announcer was declaring that it was now time for the goat tying to start.
That’s my Scotty. A living Night Mare
That’s my Scotty. A living Night Mare
Postscript: At a writer's conference in Denver, I sat with a group of very non-rodeo women and learned that every athlete or performer seems to have their own version of my nightmare. The band members forgot their instrument. Or worse, their uniform. The sprinters were in the restroom when the starting gun went off for their race. And everybody seems to have had the "What do you mean we have a test today?" classroom dream. So what about you, blog readers? What's your recurring bad dream?