As you may know, our oldest son has served three tours of duty in Iraq and one tour in Afghanistan.
Often folks remarked, “Weren’t you worried out of your mind? It’s so dangerous OVER THERE.”
OVER THERE! I wanted to exclaim. The danger over there is nothing compared to the danger right here in my backyard. No offense to our brave soldiers, I would clarify of course, but they have lots and lots of body armor and training and battle savvy and . . .
I’m not kidding. Give me a sincere terrorist, high on opium, any day over the stuff the animal kingdom can throw at you. Or on you. Or into you.
With terrorists there’s a certain pure, clean hate-filled honesty and expectation. You know that they’re trying to kill you.
Not so much with Sonny my husband’s arthritic, cranky first horse. When Sonny decided to kill someone it came from left field, without warning, and with no body armor. One minute you would be riding the old crab apple (Sonny the horse, not Sherwood the husband), thinking that the old grouch had one hoof on a banana peel and another hoof in a pit dug by a backhoe, and the next minute he was tipping over—on top of you—on purpose.
Riding Sonny was good for Sonny. That’s what his doctor said. In addition, after we rescued Sonny, we started giving the old fool (horse not husband) vitamins, shots, worm medicine, glucosamine chondroitin and, apparently at some point, the old boy secretly started feeling better. He thought he was Trigger posing for a centerfold.
The reality was that Sonny was not Trigger. He was an old horse that fell over—on occasion and occasionally on people—no warning.
One fine day, I watched my husband get on Sonny, when he (horse not man) took offense, and reared back on his arthritic hind legs. Sherwood (a new and inexperienced rider, who had limping and ligament issues of his own) jerked back on the reins, sending the horse farther backwards and back and back and back and . . . over they went . . . horse, rider, swell new saddle, nifty cool cowboy hat, the works.
Sherwood and Sonny hit the ground like a pile of worn out spare parts, and Sherwood’s whole life flashed before my eyes.
Then . . .
Having failed to murder Sherwood, Sonny the horse rolled off of my husband. Sherwood the Poppy rolled off the ground, and the screaming spectators cancelled their calls to 911.
When a screaming someone asked four-year old Zoe what had happened, she calmly said, “Poppy died.”
Indeed he did not.
But it was a close one, and completely unexpected which illustrates that the entire world—here, there, everywhere—can be a dangerous, capricious place. A place full of risk and homicidal horses, and that being one hundred percent safe is something of an illusion promoted by sellers of body armor and air bags.
Linda (Heads Up) Zern
A Program Note: In honor of my husband being accepted into the training program of the Osceola Volunteer Mounted Posse, I re-tell this story from his humble horse riding beginnings. Congratulations cowboy. Sherwood will be accompanied by his horse, Miss Kitty, and not Sonny; Sonny having gone to that big barn in the sky—still crabby, no doubt.