I had just bought a horse.
This was my second horse. First horse was an intended bribe from my mom’s second husband, trying to get me to like him. It didn’t work, though I loved the horse. “Gee, thanks, jerk!” Of course, since he picked and had no horse-picking skills and wouldn’t have applied them if he did, the horse was wildly unsuitable for a still inexperienced kid. She was a sweet thing, blood bay QH, unbroke 2-year-old. With my long-suffering riding instructor’s help, we actually did get her broke, and I had a few good months with her until she died in an accident.
Anyway, second horse. Mom, having dumped second husband and shaken the dust off her feet, was determined to do this right. She asked my riding instructor for input. Instructor looked at several horses and actually brought three over in subsequent weeks for me to try out for lessons. We were officially doing it as you should, professional input, test rides, though of course limited by the budget (1K), so anything I got wasn’t going to be perfect. I settled on Bam-Bam, who later became known jokingly as the half-Arab, half-lunatic gelding. He also was blood bay. In addition, he was selective, one of those didn’t-like-everybody horses. However, he liked me. I took several lessons on Bam. We got along well. Instructor agreed, Mom agreed, and I agreed. The deal was finalized, and Bam officially became a boarder at my instructor’s barn.
One day later, it was a Saturday. I had my lesson Friday nights. That Saturday, my dad came to visit me, and I, of course, wanted to show off my new horse. We arrived at the barn on its busiest day, but the instructor wasn’t around. I didn’t have a lesson scheduled anyway, but she had had some sort of medical emergency with a relative and was unexpectedly off heading to the hospital. So all lessons cancelled that day, but lots of boarders were just riding.
I proudly saddled up my horse, introduced him to Dad, and then started to mount outside. Alas, Bam didn’t like Dad (see odd selectiveness, above). Furthermore, Dad was clueless about horses. As I was mounting, Dad, in a protective dad moment, grabbed the reins to hold the horse safely for his daughter, but he did it all wrong and wound up jerking Bam quite sharply in the mouth. This was a horse who hated being jerked in the mouth. Bam pulled away sharply from Dad and bucked, and I went flying, in front of Dad and 20-odd people riding in the outdoor ring.
Dad, of course, was horrified. I wasn’t hurt, just embarrassed. Picked myself up, caught the horse, and dusted myself off. Only Dad by now was worried about the horse so was determined to “really” hold him this time as I remounted. I tried to convince him to just let go. Nope, he was in full Dad mode. Bam was definitely not liking him at this point for specific, not just general, reasons. Dad hit him in the mouth even harder and dragged his head sideways, Bam hit the limit, and he bolted. Ah, here we discovered a hole in my new horse. When he was totally fed up with life, Bam would run away.
I was actually on that time and managed to get my stirrups. Bam ran away. We hadn’t been actually in the outdoor ring, just near the open gate, as I didn’t want to get in the way of the folks in there while mounting. Bam bolted across the property, then finally came to a stop. I fell off more out of being shaken up than anything. First runaway of my life; I was still a kid with maybe two years of lessons. Score for the day so far: Bam 2, me 0.
Dad and a couple of others came down the field pronto to see if I was okay. Dad was now convinced that I had bought a kid-eating tiger. I got back on, with one of the other boarders heading Bam correctly and managing to convince Dad to stand back. Once I was on, she asked if I was okay, reins set, stirrups set, then stepped back and suggested I ride him back up to the ring. Here Dad grabbed the reins to lead me back across the property. He jerked the horse, and Bam bucked. Score for the day so far: Bam 3, me 0.
We retrieved the horse. I asked Dad to please, please, please just stand back, and I remounted. Dad at this point got right in front of the horse and, grabbing the cheek pieces, lectured him in firm tone to take care of me. Bam jerked away and bolted. After a nice run away to the other side of the field, he stopped, and I hit the dirt, not expecting the sudden stop. Score for the day so far: Bam 4, me 0.
By this point, Bam was getting totally fed up, and Dad was in Ultra Dad Mode. I tried to remount quickly to avoid Dad closing in, but Bam did a 360 spin (another specialty of his, as I would discover and eventually would learn to ride), and off I went. Score for the day so far: Bam 5, me 0.
Dad now wanted me to return the horse. Actually, he had a few more extreme suggestions for the horse. I was trying to explain that the horse actually liked me and we got along fine together. A few of the more experienced boarders stepped in here, bless them. One of them took charge of me and Bam, the other of Dad, keeping him at a distance and reassuring him. I got an impromptu short lesson in the ring, and I did demonstrate at last my ability to stay on my horse. Once we calmed down, we were fine.
It was literally the first full day I had owned him. This act played in front of Dad and in front of half of the boarders of the stable. To this day, being dumped five times in a day is a record, and I hope that one is never broken.
I had Bam for many, many years, up until his death. I loved that horse. Yes, he had a runaway in him when he got totally fed up with idiocy, but he also taught me to ride one. That and the 360 spin.
When Dad and I arrived home from our day out together, Mom, smiling, said, “So, what do you think of her new horse?” Well, um…
Dad still is convinced I’m going to get killed with these beasts someday.