by Kathy Rogers
Where are those darn riding gloves I thought to myself, rustling through the old, mousy tack room, overturning buckets and looking behind dusty, dirty shampoo bottles. No gloves. Oh well, I’ve ponied many times without gloves. Why would this time be any different?
As I tightened the western cinch on “Brian”, a gangly, over-sized “running quarter” I contemplated my maneuver through the gate and up the single track trail to the main fire road at Quicksilver Park.
I turned to little Hajji – three hands shorter than Brian, smarter, prettier, but not yet ridden. Hajji was just two years old, and was just coming into her own. She had been driven, lunged and ponied to death, but it had resulted in a pleasant, easy to handle, respectful little horse — and I didn’t anticipate any trouble.
I untied Hajji, mounted Brian, took Hajji’s nylon lead rope in hand and began the trek toward the main trail. Hajji assumed her spot off Brian’s right flank, and was excited about the outing, ears perked, tail up. Brian was easy to control with his egg butt snaffle and English reins, even with one hand.
The ride went great for about two miles. But, as we wound along the flat, wide dirt trail we came upon a large rivulet of muddy water running off the hill. It had cut through the trail and merely produced a wet spot about six feet wide. The actual rivulet was only a few inches wide with running water. It was not much of an obstacle.
Brian looked down at the wet spot and I urged him on, rechecking my grasp on Hajji’s lead rope. I anticipated a large “step”, but instead, Brian, in true steeplechase form launched. Meanwhile, little Hajji didn’t like the look of that wet spot, I’m sure she felt she hadn’t been given enough time to decide its safety factor, and she therefore decided she was not jumping, but instead sat down and refused.
Now, I’m aboard a 747 and I look down to see my Little Hajji’s nylon lead rope sizzling through my palm and fingers. And then, for some stupid reason, I became unnecessarily horrified at the notion of Little Hajji adrift in the park, running wildly with her lead rope trailing. Without any time to think, with the end of the rope near, and Brian still airborne, I clamped down even harder on that rope — I swear I saw smoke!
As the end of the rope passed my grasp, Brian simply landed and stopped. Little Hajji just stood there looking at us, with her rope dangling to the ground. But my GOD – my hand was on FIRE!
I jumped off Brian and drove my hand into the middle of the ice cold rivulet of water. There was absolut
e relief. But as soon as I lifted it from the water, my hand was on FIRE! Our little ride had taken us at least two miles from the ranch and knew I had no alternative but to turn back, suck it up, and ride on in. I grabbed a handful of cold mud, remounted Brian, tied Hajji’s rope to the saddle horn – a bit roughly I will admit – and began the ride home.
Within one minute that mud had warmed and I was flipping my hand around trying to rid myself of now hated mud and the FIRE on the hand! There was nothing else to do but use the moment as a study in pain. I held my hand high and tried to block the pain, embrace the pain, be one with the pain. Nothing worked, it just hurt — real bad. If I had had a knife, I think I would have cut that hand off.
When I got back to the ranch, I grabbed a cold beer out of the fridge, again instant relief. After stabling the horses, feeding and cleaning up around the barn, I had to exchange that beer for another cold one. I drove all the way home with that beer in my hand, and when I got home, I had to exchange it for a cold soda. All nite long I kept exchanging warm for cold until morning, when for some reason all the pain was gone. Next time, I’ll find the gloves…