an amazing feat of strength – horsesPosted: June 21, 2013
If he rides a Japanese Quarter Horse ( a four wheel ATV ) some now, that’s OK. He’s still a hand and a true horseman. A big man, with wide shoulders but small at the hips, he favored those large fifteen hand quarter horses to carry him and his rig ( saddle, rope, fencing tool.) Boys who grew up on a ranch learned to fix about anything with a bit of baling wire, and Mike fit the bill.
He’d been the hand at the association where we had a cabin for as long as I recall – big, strong, wise Mike. He had a soft side too. When a no-good horse trader sold us Bandit, the trader drugged Bandit so we wouldn’t know the horse was lame. Next morning that horse was so sore it could only hop a few feet in any direction. Mike was gentle as a lover as he handled Bandit, cared for him, and healed him.
But when a horse acted up, Mike cussed like, well like a cowboy. We used to laugh ( silently ) when a horse in the coral refused to be caught and Mike got angrier and angrier trying to corner the recalcitrant steed.
Once about fifteen years ago, Mike had arranged for about a eight of us to pick up nine horses and ride them about twenty-five miles through the mountains back to the ranch. We arranged a car ride to get us there by seven AM, mounted up and headed back. Mike rode Jethro his big roan and led another horse on a lead rope.
You can’t hardly be in a better place than the Big Horns at dawn, and I remember Jan and I racing our horses across a green dew covered meadow, hoof beats muffled by the soft grass as we almost flew.
The group went up and down, through forest, meadow and over streams. A couple passes were narrow and a misstep by horse or rider would plunge both down fifty feet or more. It was up and down, and a couple times we stopped to rest the horses. We passed Emerald lake at ten thousand feet altitude, but couldn’t stop to fish for trout, and climbed higher.
We lunched near an abandoned gold mine, and it started to sprinkle. Yellow slickers on we headed out riding faster. After five hours in the saddle, another five hours of trotting in the cold mountain rain and mud the horses were kicking up made for some grim faces.
Four miles from home, my favorite straw cowboy hat droops like an old woman’s boobs, and we are just running. I’m trying to hold my horse in, for if he’s too close and another horse goes down it will be chaos on the wet stones and trails. The rain is pouring – we canter through the trees, Mike and the horse he’s leading up in front of me when a thunder clap sounds just around us. Maybe because we were still close enough to heaven at eight thousand feet altitude, or maybe because of the rocks about us, this sound exploded like a bomb.
We have horses going every where – as they jump in fright and up ahead of me I see Jake leap six feet sideways to the left, and his lead horse dart off to the right. Mike is nearly dragged from the saddle between two frightened running steeds when Mike roars, pulls his right arm in, rotates his massive shoulders and torso, lifts the lead horse’s front legs into the air pulling him in Jethro’s direction while willing himself back up in the saddle. No other man I’ve known stays on that horse.
We arrived miserable and wet, and convinced this was the best ride ever. A couple days later Mike showed me his leg. It was purple from his butt to his knee. He’d ripped his hamstring staying in the saddle.
In all my life, I have never seen a feat of strength to equal it.