The Sound of Hoof-Beats

I was the kind of kid that wanted to ride a donkey while everyone else rode horses. Tar Baby was an average donkey to most but he was my pride and joy. We rode in rodeo parades with me dressed as a clown.

Kenny, my older bother was quite the horseman. He lived to break and train horses. I was made to help with the horse breaking, but it was something that I could have done without.

By the time I was 7 or 8 years old our spending money came from working with Shetland Ponies. We lived on the rockiest 65 acres on the face of the earth. About the only thing that would grow there was thorny bushes and prickly pears. Being thrown off was not ever what you wanted to do.

We had a contract with a fellow that dealt in shetlands and would have as many as twelve to fifteen horses that we were breaking at any time. At $35 each to ride these little guys, we were making some good money for the late 50s & early 60s.

Kenny, being two and a half years older and bigger he always came out on top of any disagreement between us. Two of his favorite methods of entertainment were at my expense. One was roping me on foot with him on horseback, and trotting off just fast enough that if I ran at full speed I could keep up. At least for a while, then I would always tire out before his horse and him. It was always my fault when I ended up skinned from head to toe. “All you had to do was keep running”.

His other favorite past time was riding up behind me with him on a full sized horse while I rode a Shetland or Tar Baby. As he would approach he would leap out of the saddle and ride me all the way to the ground. That usually left me skinned and bruised worst than towing me with the rope. His landing was always pretty good as I was the cushion between him and the hard ground.

One day when I heard the hoof beats behind me I knew what I was in for. Luckily I was on Prince, a very good handling little Shetland. Kenny was coming up on my left side. My timing could not have been better, as he left his saddle I pulled back and hard to the right. He plowed up more gravel and rocks than I ever had.

What sweet revenge. I couldn’t help but laugh until I almost fell off the pony myself. I don’t think I ever saw him as mad. He even became madder when I rode off without catching his horse and he then had to walk about a mile to get home.

I don’t ever remember hearing those hoof beats coming up behind me the same way ever again.

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