Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Flipping Out

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. Springdale, Washington was always really good to me. 

Cody, Wyoming was not.

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.

Yeah, stylish.

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?


Susan Adrian said...


Though I'd rather like to see a pic of that. :)

Matthew Delman said...

Nice. I'm with Susan, I'd love it if there were photo evidence of that.

Linda G. said...

LOL! Dang. And I was just thinking too bad somebody didn't get a picture. ;)

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Do rodeo participants have all the superstitions and lucky rituals as baseball players? Did you keep that hat?


LOL, these stories are hysterical! And this is the funniest thing I've read all day:

She hadn’t managed to bite me in over a month.

That's saying something :)


Kari Lynn Dell said...

Susan G/K - Yes, cowboys and cowgirls are extremely superstitious. No laying your hat brim down or all the luck will fall out of it. Never carry a fifty cent piece in your pocket. Never wear yellow in the arena. Plus everybody has their own little quirks. And lucky shirts, lucky underwear, lucky feather in your name it.

I did keep the hat. My younger sister borrowed it later that summer for the Miss Montana High School Rodeo contest, and used it as a prop during her speech. She won.

Ron Scheer said...

Well told. Thanks!

BTW, I knew why you put a felt hat crown down, but I haven't understood why CBs do the same with straw hats. Now I know! I'll never do it again.

Katt said...

oh I can see that hat!

My moment was in my twenties, thought I was pretty special, judging a schooling show (kids on horses).

They set me up with a mic and a little thing in my pocket to switch it on and off. Cool. Really cool as in cold, bundled up in winter woolies, even my chaps on to keep the cold wind out.
After an hour or so the guy in charge comes into the center of the ring between classes-- 20 kids exiting one end, another 20 coming in the other, all the parents lined up on the observation decks-- Bob says, turn your mic off I did into my pocket and flip the switch, he asks, you need a whiz-break? I say naw, not yet, no point in peeling all these clothes off yet, right? He says, yell when.

Well, an hour or so later I cant hold it any longer. I wave at Bob, he comes to the middle of the ring while the little darlings do the deal again, 20 in, 20 out, parents hanging over the fence.... and I say, Bob, I need a break. He gives me a weird look like he's suddenly gone deaf or something. So I get specific... Bob. I gotta whiz, big time!

yup, the mic was on...

Crystal Posey said...


Trisha Leigh said...

Hilarious. I'm rather sorry it took place in the days before camera phones :)

Cynthia D'Alba said...


It's times like these when a picture would be worth $1000!

This wasn't me. It was hubby. We were in the car. He asked me for some Chapstick, which I dug out of my purse. He smeared it on his lips and because we had been out in the wind and the skin around his mouth was chapped, he moved off his lips and rubbed some Chapstick on the skin around his mouth. However (isn't there always a however!), I used to put on my red lipstick and then top it with Chapstick. When hubby finished with my Chapstick and looked at me to hand it back, his lips and all the skin around his mouth was bright lipstick had left traces of red in the wax. Hubby looked liked a rodeo clown. I was laughing so had I couldn't explain the problem for five minutes! I would give $1000 for a picture of him wearing my red lipstick!

Harley May said...

These are hysterical, Kari. Can I say that I could sit at this computer and read stories about your rodeo and ranch life for days. DAYS. I love them.

Elisabeth Black said...

Ha! Embarrassing hat stories are the best

Unknown said...

I like the teerm "hellbitch." This is very funny. Thanks for sharing.

Bill Kirton said...

I know I keep saying the same boring thing here but this sort of writing is superb. I don't just mean the funny bits, but the whole throwaway manner in which you describe being part of the rodeo. My ignorance of your world prevents me saying anything meaningful about them, but I love these blogs.

Weekend Cowgirl said...

Nothing worse than laughing cowboys!