El Loco, Mother Earth and sudden stops

Gary Noth

You know that saying about how to live? By sliding into home plate, dust flying and jumping up and yelling, “What a ride?” What they do not tell you is, your young body might absorb it then but when you put a lot of miles behind you, your body will not thank you later, but your mind will.
My good friend Steve was throwing a large get-together cookout, and his brother Ernie showed up and brought his horse “Bob” to the shindig. Now Bob wasn’t your normal horse, as he had quite a few marbles missing. When you look into the eyes of a horse, you want to see soft, gentle, “Hey, let me take you for a nice ride.”
With Bob, it was, “I am so gonna hurt you so bad” look in his eyes. It didn’t help that Ernie would challenge people with, “Nobody can ride Bob.” And with me, having ridden a few broncs, it became a “Here, hold my beer” challenge.
We got out one of Steve’s old saddles and saddled up ole Bob. The crowd gathered to watch as I grabbed leather and hoisted myself up and then back down to see what ole Bob was gonna do. He stood there. I did that a few more times and finally slid my leg over the top.
Ole Bob just started to walk, and we were having a nice slow walk around the arena. Then ole Bob’s eye must have slid back into his head and the rodeo was on. Bob was twisting ‘n turning, bouncing off the ground, crow hopping this way and that, kickin and screamin and I was having a great ride. I knew I was inches from teachin Ole Bob who’s the boss.
Then suddenly, as we came down out of the clouds and hit Mother Earth hard, instead of heading back up into the air, I continued downwards. The hard dirt was one thing but, that sudden stop. Ugh! I didn’t just land but bounced hard several times before coming to a stop in a pile of dust.
Ole Bob just stopped and stood there. I slowly dug my way out of the dirt to hear the sounds of clapping, laughing, hootin ‘n hollarin. I arose and dusted myself off, and my body already was telling me, “Hahhahaha, looks like you’re gonna be takin a week or so off, cowboy.”
As I walked Bob back to the crowd, they were having a good laugh at my failure to ride Bob. I walked up to Steve and handed him the stirrup that broke. I smiled and said, “I think I’ll go home and lie down for a bit.” Hurtin ribs, bruised ego, skinned nose.
I’m too old to do another ride like that, but I’ll tell ya, kids. While you’re young, go out and see the world; have lots of fun. I spent years traveling around America in various forms of transport: Semi driving. RV. Travel Trailer. Backpack. Fished in every state but two. Because if you don’t do it while you are young, when you get old, you will miss so much of life.
Happy New Year!