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Mama, let your baby grow up to be a cowboy

GAYS MILLS - As time passes and Thatcher grows older, he continues to talk more and have his own interests At times, I find myself wondering what kind things will interest him in the next five, ten, fifteen years and beyond.

Particularly, I find myself wondering if he will become a horse enthusiast. I think that I find myself wondering about this specific interest over the thousands of others that he could pursue, because I am personally frightened by horses. In this area, it seems horses are a big part of the culture for young people, so a connection doesn’t seem so unlikely.

Chasca on the other hand is a closet horse enthusiast. Never one to wear a 10-gallon hat, throw a lasso or shine his spurs, I never knew that he fancied horses so much up until the last few years.

I knew his dad was a horse owner, as I would occasionally see two ancient horses, one a fancy Appaloosa and the other a rather plain brown horse. They went by the names Jack and Cachena and their primary pastimes included trying to play with the deer in the woods and eating grass. They were seldom ridden, except by Cisco. However, they were completely tame and broke and surprisingly (much to Cisco’s pride) never pooped on the front lawn.

I managed for about a year or so to casually stave off horseback ride offers. However, every time we would visit, Cisco would insist we go for a ride. Eventually, I fessed up that I was rather afraid of horses. There’s no particular reason for this fear on my part other than, I feel they’re far too smart and probably have their own agenda and horses paralyzed Superman and killed Rhett Butler’s daughter in ‘Gone with the Wind., I imagine now, in retrospect, that my explanation seemed a bit odd.

Luckily for me, Cisco was never put off by odd explanations and insisted once more that I just get up and go for a ride. So, I finally agreed in a desperate hope that the requests would end, if I just succumbed to this one request.

I didn’t exactly know that there would be no saddle involved. There were only some stirrups, a lead and riding pad—the bare minimum. However, I believe that was probably the maximum the horses were used to carrying and it’s likely that Cisco probably just rode them completely without accessories.   

I was placed on the far older and lazier horse, Jack, who was the son of a horse Chasca rode in his young childhood, Jill.

Taking off on a flat surfaced trail ride was kind of what I had hoped for, but instead we took off uphill on a rocky, treacherous logging hill. My horse followed Chasca and Cachena, who (the horse I should point out) seemed to have terrible gas that day. 

As the rocks slipped under the horse’s feet, all I could think about was the scenes from the old westerns where the horse makes one misstep and falls off a cliff with a distressed “neighhhhhhh” heard across the canyon. Not to mention, without the security of a saddle, I was sliding off the back, certainly bound to end up on the business end of a hoof.

As luck would have it, we made it to the top safe and sound. With my blood pressure slightly (or more than slightly) elevated, I was ready to just walk back down, while Chasca led Jack.

However, in his mischievousness spirit, Chasca encouraged his big beautiful white-and-brown speckled horse to take off in a trot across the open plains atop the hill. This frisky move, raised the spirits of my previously lazy, old pony who also decided to trot along and feel the wind through its mane.

I believe that Chasca thought I would have a change of heart and find this slight adrenaline rush to be well worth the suffering of the uphill climb. However, I am, and probably always will be, a weenie, and squealed in fright, “STOP! STOP! STOP!” Luckily, he immediately obliged.

Later, he told me that as a young boy he and his dad would do that same thing. Without notice one of them would take off across an open field, encouraging the other horse to race along. He said it gave him such a feeling of freedom and a thrill that he would never forget. I guess he was just testing me out to see if I was a thrill seeker. It’s something, he continues to do—as if he hopes I’ll wake up one day and realize living on the edge is truly where it’s at. Alas, I think he’s mistaken.

Hopefully for his sake, Thatcher isn’t such a weenie like me. Judging by his willingness to try anything without fear, ability to get up and brush himself off without tears from most things and his general look of mischief I think I’ts safe to say that Thatcher will be fine with whatever interests he pursues—even if he only gets to do the scary ones with Dad.