Test Ride

My first horse of the summer was only a little bit of a bummer; back in May, I’d paid gaited horse price for a horse that didn’t gait. Since the seller had promised to refund our money if we decided he wasn’t the one we wanted, we returned the horse within thirty days. At first, we agreed to take a substitute horse but changed our minds on that less than twenty-four hours later. She followed our example and changed her mind about returning our money. Even a month after she’d sold both of the other horses to other suckers, err, I mean "customers," she still refused to return our money.

Obviously, I could take the court option. Spend a little bit of money and a lot of time and get a small claims judge to declare, "Hey, you owe this guy some money." That would not guarantee I’d actually get the money but it would guarantee that I get lots of stress and that I would contribute to the ill-well in the world. That account being already over-funded, I decided to wait for the stable owner to find me a replacement horse.

Last Saturday, I took a test drive on a new Tennessee Walker gelding that she had just bought.

Blackjack greeted us with a gentle demeanor and very calm disposition. Hopefully, that was not due to being sedated. Although he wouldn’t stay in either of them for more than a minute or so, he did have a couple of smooth gaits. As we followed the guide around the big soybean field and into the woods, Blackjack moved along behind the others in a comfortable walk. We made it through the woods, around the lake, by a bunch of junk stuff, through some more woods and then out onto a small backroad.

A few cars passed us and the gelding did fine. He even walked past the wind-bounced balloon on the yard sale sign without a twitch. We were doing great and I was actually enjoying the ride. Things were going so well that Jack and I moved out in front of the others.

Then came the huge German Shepherd.

He came rushing out from the yard to our right, barking and snarling, charging right at my horse. "Oh, darn," I thought, "this could get interesting." (Yes, it is amazing how calm I can be when writing about such a dramatic episode. It is only slightly less amazing at how loosely I can quote myself.) In that split-second between stimulus and response, I wondered if my horse would buck, bolt, spin, jump or rear up. I thought it quite likely that he would do all of them at the same time. Behind me, Randa watched in slight horror, imagining several of the ways that this could end badly and helpless to do anything but wait and see what my horse did.

What Blackjack did was take off in a fast, smooth trot. That was it. No bucking, bolting, spinning, jumping or rearing up. Just that fast, smooth trot… all the way back to the stable.

I think I’ve found my horse. Or maybe it’s more like salvation; maybe my horse has found me.

H. Arnett

9/23/11

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About Doc Arnett

Native of southwestern Kentucky currently living in Blair, Kansas, with my wife of twenty-five years, Randa. We have, between us, eight children and twenty-one grandkids. We enjoy singing, worship, remodeling and travel.
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