I tend to talk a lot about my mom in this blog. She is the trainer, and sheâ€™s the one who will be taking the horses to the track and living there for five months out of the year. But, since itâ€™s February â€“ my dadâ€™s birthday month â€“ and Valentineâ€™s Day â€“ my favorite holiday â€“ I thought Iâ€™d take a moment to talk about him. After all, without him, Mom wouldnâ€™t be able to leave the horses and cattle at home every summer and go to race.
Heâ€™s a man who generally lives by three rules: 1.) Donâ€™t touch his hat. 2). be loyal to what you love. 3.) Work hard.
(In that order.)
I think he takes a certain amount of pride in telling stories of meeting a boy or two picking me up at the door with an intimidating tactic or two. He wasnâ€™t just the dad who said heâ€™d be at the door with a shotgun. He really was.
A former bronc-rider, heâ€™s the first one to get on the young horses every spring. This is usually my favorite time of year to go home and watch the rodeo.
In high school and during college summers, I would be home alone during the week doing chores. Now, thatâ€™s Dadâ€™s job while I help at the track. His weekends are spent checking the cattle and horses on pasture. Thereâ€™s also a lot of â€œgopher patrol.â€
I tend to think I have the same laid back personality as my Dad. Heâ€™s pretty reserved, but when he blows, itâ€™s time to get out of the way.
He has proudly worked for the same company for more than 35 years. But that entire time, heâ€™s worked out of town for most of the week, leaving Monday mornings and coming back Thursday nights. I think it bothers him a little more now that Iâ€™m older that he was gone during the week, but he was there for all the important moments, which, really, is what counts.
One of the moments was somewhat out of character for him, but it taught me lessons Iâ€™ll never forget.
I was riding a new little Paint horse â€“ one of the first horses they bought just for me. Problem was she wasnâ€™t particularly broke well enough for someone my age.
I donâ€™t remember much of that day. I know we were away from home and the little horse threw me. It was the first of only three times in my life Iâ€™ve been thrown from my horse. (Thatâ€™s not too shabby, in my opinion.).
Well, the clichÃ© is that you always get back on the horse that throws you.Â At the time, I thought this was a little extreme for a 5-year old, but I remember I understood and I did get back on, I just didnâ€™t want to move. I wanted to be hooked on to one of their horses so that they could help if the horse bucked again. When my Dad said, â€œNo,â€ I was shocked.
Â Again, I was 5, so I threw a fit. I donâ€™t remember crying harder in my life: I was angry and I was terrified. I thought my dad who always takes my side, is always there to help me not fall, was setting me up to be killed on this nut job of a horse. He sat on his horse and repeatedly â€“ almost angrily – told me I just had to suck it up. â€œYou get thrown off, you get back on.Â You ride your own horse. If you donâ€™t see this through, youâ€™ll never see anything through.â€
I looked to Mom for help. I figured it was useless since she was usually the â€œtough one,â€ but Iâ€™ll never forget the look on her face. I doubt Iâ€™ve seen it since. Even she was surprised he was sticking to his guns on this one.
I eventually gave up and rode home, on my horse, by myself. Iâ€™m still alive, so like he said, it didnâ€™t kill me.
Once I got over the trauma of that day, Iâ€™ve never forgotten it. He was never the one to teach me the hard way, but it certainly seemed to work.
I learned pouting gets me nowhere. I learned to do something even when afraid. I learned not to give up.
And of course I learned, â€œif you get bucked off, you just have to get up, dust yourself and get back on the horse.â€
Â Thanks, Dad.