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Yeah, he was bucking, too

A few more words about Friday’s near disaster with Harrison and Spike . . . First off, Harrison got back on a burro the next day, riding Redbo for a short ways, about a mile total on the dirt track over to the west of here.

“Spike is bad behavior,” he said from the saddle. “Redbo is better.”

Rehashing the incident, it had been in the back of my mind that Spike was actually bucking during Friday’s rodeo episode. Everything happened so fast I wasn’t certain.

However, Spike’s bucking was confirmed by Lorie Merfeld-Batson, a neighbor and one of the moms that witnessed Spike’s blow-up at the arena. Lorie said she was amazed at how well Harrison stuck in the saddle as Spike ran away bucking.

Lorie also mentioned how surprised she was that a burro would do something like this. She said the behavior was more like something she’d expect from a horse. I would agree. Rarely do burros spin, run and buck like this, especially when there is no apparent reason for spooking. As I previously wrote, Spike’s meltdown bordered on psycho. Never say never when discussing equines.

I also was reminded that my first horseback riding experience was on a Shetland pony that ran off with me when I was about Harrison’s age. This was at my great uncle Glen’s farm in Missouri. I have a dim memory of the horse running fast across a pasture and stopping short of a fence. Somehow I stayed on. When I visited the farm as an adult shortly before Glen’s death in 1997 none of the landscape was how I remembered it but I sure remember that ride.

So now we have some new rules around here. First, Harrison won’t ride Spike anymore. Secondly, nobody will ride anything around here without some serious hardware — a bit — in its mouth. My apologies to the bitless bridle crowd — I know if I had been able to turn Spike the situation Friday never would have gotten so out of control. And a bit would have made a big difference.

Today I took Redbo out with my friends Peter Hedberg and Jeff Gillingham. I rode along with them on their horses, and did some hiking, running and thinking as well. We were out for nearly four hours. We took some of the rugged trails on Bear Basin Ranch up a rocky hill known locally as “Grouse Mountain.” It’s also called “Camelback” by some. And on the USGS topo map it’s “Bears Ears.” A rock formation that caps this mountain actually looks like the ears of a bear. The trail, one of the few that is snow-free around here, winds up the south-facing slope dotted by Gambel oak and mountain mahogony. The view from up there was stunning.

It was a fine outing, and between Harrison so readily returning to riding Saturday and this time spent outside today, I felt the weekend had indeed been salvaged.

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