Once upon a time, in a previous life, I lived in an enclave of horsepeople. These were not competition-driven horsepeople, but just backyard horsepeople. Yes, there were the roper types who regularly went to the local arena to calf rope and head and heel and run gymkhana. The would-be cowboys began complaining when the calves got so big they could no longer be thrown, but more or less threw the cowboys instead. The calves were accused of having “rubber necks” which meant the cowboys could twist all they wanted to dump the calves but their heads swiveled almost 360 degrees. The atmosphere was festive, popcorn and candy were sold at the concession stand, and all the little kids got to run around and climb on everything that wasn’t moving.
There was a lot of dirt, a lot of camaraderie and just plain fun. The calves probably knew every rider there since the string hadn’t been freshened in a long time.
When nothing else was going on, “rides” were formed. That’s where anybody who wanted to got together with a group and all pointed their horses in the same direction. In those days and parts, there were no trees (on the edge of the desert), no fences, no complaining land owners, and we could ride for days if we wanted to.
Most of us didn’t want to, but those men, gosh. When they knew a ride was coming up, they had to go “practice” no matter the wind or weather. One time a group of them took off and fortified their saddlebags with peppermint schnapps because it was raining and maybe 40 degrees. Of course they got wet. The horses got wet, the tack got wet, blankets got wet. Apparently they hadn’t gone very far, thinking they could get warm by going in some one of their homes if they got too cold. And everybody lived within a mile of each other.
Five of them found a little box canyon and stopped to answer the call of nature, but one of them had so much trouble solving his problem his horse got tired of waiting for him and headed home, which he could see from where they were standing, rain and wind pouring down.
That guy, who shall go nameless, yelled for his horse to come back, which of course it did not. And the other four guys, all brains combined, decided the best way to continue the ride was for the “extra” rider to ride “double” with one of them. The double rider fell off only twice before they got to his house.
The horses were then tied to rails and the riders “helped” the horseless one inside his house, where they all got warm and fell asleep on the floor. Meanwhile the horses, standing in the weather getting colder for lack of movement, decided to untie the merely draped reins and go home too.
There were some at first anxious wives making phone calls when the riderless horses arrived at their home corrals. Those ladies soon became angry women when they found out just why their worry was needless and their husbands were worthless.