Back on the Horse

Aug 21, 2007 | | 5 comments

When I was a little guy, about 5-7 years old, I was visiting my grandparents in Southside, West Virginia. Their house was right across the road from a farm owned by the Hopson’s. I honestly don’t know what drew me to Hopson’s farm beyond the fact that I was not from the country, but I was drawn to it for sure. They had cows and pigs… probably a lot more animals than that, but cows and pigs are what I remember. The cows would graze near the road and “look in our eyes”! I don’t know if it was me or my brother who was scared of the cows “looking in our eyes”.

jim-on-pistol.jpg One day, I went for a ride on their horse, Pistol. Someone led me because I was not an experienced rider. I don’t know for sure who was there. What I do know is that they walked Pistol and me across the pasture to the other side, near the highway. What I didn’t know at the time (that would have been extremely valuable information) was that Pistol had a habit of running as fast as he could to the barn. That’s it. No particular reason, but to run as hard as he could to the barn where he would just stop running. Sounds like Forrest Gump.

Somewhere along the ride, the person who was leading Pistol had either let go of the reigns or didn’t have a tight grip. Pistol decided to take advantage of the situation and go to the barn. He wasn’t interested in a leisurely stroll, but bolted for the barn and I didn’t know what to think. Here I am, a little boy on the back of this horse running like his tail was on fire. Panicked and not knowing why he was running or how far and long he would run, I began to reason that I must jump or fall off. I started scooting to the side so I could get off. Fortunately, falling off of a running horse is much scarier than staying on, so I stayed put. Pretty soon, Pistol reached his beloved barn and stopped.

The whole ride couldn’t have lasted more than two or three minutes, but it was indelibly marked in my memory. I am so thankful that I was not successful at getting off while he was running. If I had been, that day might well have been remembered for something else.

Family, do you remember that day? What do you remember? Who was there? What time of year was it? How old was I? Did you see me on the horse? What did you feel in that moment? Afterwards?

Posted in: memories, personal, stories

5 Responses

  1. NB,
    I was there but not in the pature where you were. I’m not sure who had a hold of the reins, but more than likely it was Roger (Hopson). I remember seeing Pistol galloping toward the Barn and you holding on for dear life. If you had had long hair it would have been blowing in the wind.
    I rode that horse many times myself. I know from experience how fast he ran toward the Barn. I remember you were very scared and a little weepy but you were such a little boy. I remember running from our house to the Barn along with your Dad to make sure you were ok. I think I also remember Roger taking a strap to the horse. I’m thankful you didn’t try to get off while he was going full speed. The fall could have been really nasty. Nasty, because of you getting hurt and nasty because of the cow piles you would have fallen in. :>
    Seriously, you could have really been hurt but thank God you were and are ok. UB

  2. I remember the incident clearly, but I only knew about it AFTER I knew you were all right. You didn’t share with us anything about your fear, but I certainly had a lot of anxiety about what could have happened. I was so very thankful that you weren’t hurt and probably glad that I didn’t know about it until it was over. As a matter of fact, I don’t believe you rode Pistol again after that, did you?

  3. Jim, Thanks for sharing this brief but important moment in your life. Have you gone horse back riding at all since that day?

  4. Curtis, I have gone riding since then. Horseback riding has never been a real love for me, but I do not think this incident had much to do with that. I just did not have much opportunity to ride as a youngster. I’ll bet my mom wouldn’t have let me back on Pistol even if I had wanted to. 🙂

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