A Memorable 4th of July

Posted in: Horse Care, Ranch Life

Growing up, we didn’t have fancy horses. We had “affordable” horses. As the youngest of the WHOLE family (cousins included), I got the old horses, the plodders, the herd-bound, barn sour ones, the ones that had three speeds–walk, trot and faster trot. Don’t get me wrong, they were steady, good-‘nuf kids’ horses. They had just been around long enough to acquire and perfect some bad habits.

The Fourth of July parade in Crawford, Neb. is an annual tradition. Even now, grown up and living a state away, I’d sooner consider missing Christmas with my family than forgoing the Fourth of July parade. When I was about 7, my brother and I got to accompany my parents’ chuckwagon in the parade. Sorrely (what else would you name a sorrel horse?) was a big, solid, high-headed, hard-mouthed gelding that was declared a kids’ horse because you’d be grown up before he attained a speed more dangerous than a walk.

On the way home from the parade, just a mile from town, my brother kicked his palomino mare into a trot, then a lope. After thumping Sorrely in the sides for a quarter of a mile, he picked up a trot…then a faster trot…then a faster trot. Then the teeth-chattering trot turned into a smooth lope. I was grinning. I was ecstatic.

The smile faded when I realized the only reason we were loping was that we were headed toward the barn, and it was all Sorrely’s idea. Everything at that point was Sorrely’s idea, and he was unilaterally rejecting my suggestions of slowing down a bit. We galloped down the ditch, leaving my brother and the chuckwagon behind.

Well, we couldn’t go on forever. We had a fairly clear path to the barn–just a couple of cross-roads and a corner between us and home.

Without slowing down, Sorrely came out of the ditch at the first cross-road and slid to a halt–impressive, really–on the gravel road. As one would expect, I wasn’t prepared for this change of plans, so I continued on the projected route. That route brought my forehead into an intersection with the edge of a concrete culvert.

The next thing I knew, my brother was carrying me out of the ditch, blood streaming down us both, yelling, “Mom! She’s bleeding!” Mom knew. Being the kind of mother who reacted much like she may have if he’d said, “Mom, she stubbed her toe,” she found a washcloth to stop the bleeding, took me home, cleaned up the wound, put my clothes in the washer to soak, and then took me to the emergency room, where she clipped the thread for the doctor as he put 17 stitches in my head. Dad waited in the hall.

Posted in: Horse Care, Ranch Life

About Maria Tibbetts

I grew up on a ranch in the panhandle of Nebraska. Both of my grandfathers raised Quarter horses and before they knew they would be related someday, broke horses at Fort Robinson for the Army. I showed horses in 4-H and AQHA growing up. I'm...

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