Getting bucked off is always a possibility in the daily life of a journeyman horse trainer. They take on horses to break and ride. Kayo (an alias to protect the guilty) had gained a good reputation for skilled horsemanship.
Already accepted to vet school at WSU, Kayo could probably teach the faculty a lot about horse psychology! One of the local horse traders brought over a 6-year-old paint mare named Kahlua that had a bad reputation and needed some schooling. She liked to buck!
Kayo knew the mare, having seen her being "aired out" in the local arena, where she had displayed her bad behavior. Kayo agreed to take her on. After five days in the round pen and another week of long rides in a nearby pasture, Kayo figured Kahlua was ready for the next step.
It was late afternoon. Kahlua was tacked up in a Western saddle and snaffle bit. Our trainer was wearing chinks and a cowboy hat, screwed down tight! They headed up the road toward the outskirts of town. Kahlua pranced a lot, taking everything in: tractors, trucks, traffic, bicycles, fences, driveways, kids and racket in general. They stopped often to acclimate. Kayo had a good feeling about the horse. I’m told good trainers have this sixth sense. They crossed the gravel road and headed back. One obstacle lay along their way, a construction zone.
The workers were on a break and several were lined up along the tall chainlink fence just watching. A couple of them hollered hoorahs. Kahlua’s ears were circling like sonar dishes; she tensed up. Kayo noticed the throatlatch was crooked and reached down to pull it back. At that moment, feeling the rider off balance and distracted, Kahlua broke in two! Kayo’s head flew aft and then was slung forward … twice! On the third pitch, Kayo flipped out over the swells, hooking the sleeve of both jacket and hoodie over the saddle horn! Kahlua did everything she could to shake off the baggage hanging on her left side!
The audience was cheering the action as horse and rider bucked and banged into a picket fence, mailboxes, car bodies, sawhorses and signs reading "Caution: construction area: STAY BACK!"
Finally, right in the middle of this three-ring circus, Kahlua, with one mighty Power Buck, peeled the jacket and hoodie off the flailing rider … leaving our journeyman trainer flat out in the dirt!
Kayo stood unsteadily and looked back over her shoulder at the hard-hatted, enthusiastic audience. Kahlua was galloping home with the jacket, hoodie and sports bra still hooked over the horn flying like semaphore flags on a Coast Guard Cutter! Kayo was bareback, her right arm hanging dislocated and limp. She pulled her chinks up under her chin, glared at the appreciative construction crew and marched down the road mumbling unflattering nicknames for Kahlua.
Baxter Black is a former large animal veterinarian who can be followed nationwide through this column, National Public Radio, public appearances, television and also through his books, cds, videos and website, www.baxterblack.com.