By little brother and fellow cattleman, Blair Stringam.
|So many adventures...|
If it wasn’t for guardian angels I don’t know if I would have survived my youth . . .
When I was about 18, we had a very nice saddle horse. I had been told that the horse had a tender mouth but I didn’t understand what that meant. I just thought that I could use a bridle that had a straight bar for a bit.
In the spring, Dad and I needed to drive some yearling heifers across the bridge to a pasture on our ranch.
Now said bridge and my family had “history”. For some reason the heifers or bulls on the ranch did not like to cross it.
Also: This is the same bridge off which our herd bull pushed my sister to almost certain doom. Just before she used his tail as a rope to save herself.
Where was I? Oh, right, heifers and bridge.
So Dad and I needed to chase these heifers over the bridge.
Both of us were mounted – me on the tender-mouthed horse.
The heifers, in true ‘cow’ fashion, were trying to explore everywhere but the direction in which we were trying to chase them. I had to maneuver the horse repeatedly to intercept the numerous attempts at escape. This required making the horse perform some tight turns.
I noticed that the horse would spin on a dime. I remember thinking that whoever trained the animal had done a very good job.
Finally, we had the heifers down at the bridge.
We were trying to get them to cross, but they were milling around, looking for any other places to escape to.
Any other places.
I was having to use all of my experience to work the horse and try to keep the heifers moving where I wanted.
At one point I needed to pull back on the reins to get the horse to reverse a few feet.
As I did so, the animal started to rear up on its back legs. I reacted by pulling a little harder on the reins.
Which caused the horse to rear higher and start backing up, as I had wanted, but on its hind legs.
Then it lost its balance and started to fall directly backward.
I was in a very dangerous position. If the horse continued to fall as it was, it would have landed directly on top of me.
The saddle horn would have been planted in my chest and I would have been seriously hurt. Even killed.
I had heard many stories where riders had been killed in this same situation.
However, lucky (or unlucky) for me, the horse turned at the last second and fell on its side. My leg and foot were smashed and I experienced pain like I’ve never felt before. I believe I expressed said pain by uttering a nasty word or two.
(I might have even said darn it!)
The horse rolled back onto its feet and went running to the comparative safety of the barn. I remained on the ground for a few minutes.
At that point we gave up the bridge idea and I drug myself to the pickup truck and Dad and I took the heifers to their destination the long (ie. safe) way.
Dad on horseback and me in the truck.
I have thought many times since about that incident and why the horse may have turned at the last second and landed on its side.
I like to think that my guardian angel may have had something to do with it.