Little did I know when the family and I went on an outing to Foster Falls State Park that I would come back from the experience a changed man. Little did I know that the tale of my exploits that fateful morning would spread through the camp faster than fire through a meth lab.
After finding our campsite, we immediately headed to the stables. The Mistress of the Manor, my grandson and my son-in-law had never ridden a horse. My daughter had not ridden a horse since she was maybe eight, and the last time I mounted a steed (hey, stop the sniggering) I was around 15. So, we were all anxious to saddle up and test our equestrian skills.
Things started off fine. We mounted our appointed horses and began our trek through the park, riding along slowly and enjoying the beauty of our surroundings. We had only been riding for a short while when we heard the sound of a horse galloping quickly up from behind us. In a blur, a horse shot past us, as if fleeing from a posse of Elmer’s Glue employees. Clinging to the out-of-control horse was a young lady, who was screaming wildly.
Being the most advanced rider of our group, I felt it was I who must save the damsel in distress. I gave my horse a kick and off I went. As I rode up beside the frenzied maiden, I reached for the reins of her horse, which were flapping wildly. However, I misjudged the distance, and as I reached for the reins, I found myself falling. I did manage to grab the reins before I hit the ground, which jerked the horse to a stop. I stopped when I hit the ground. So, now I’m left with an extremely sore back, and possibly a fractured rib or two. But, it was well worth it since I was able to save the young lady from possibly a more disastrous fate.
It didn’t take long before my fame spread throughout the park, and … what? That’s not the way you heard it? Well, I may have taken a few liberties, but… what? You heard there was no young lady on a runaway horse? Well, okay, I may have made that part up, but… okay, okay, that’s not exactly the way it happened.
Before mounting our horses (hey, I said stop the sniggering), we put on our bicycle helmets, which I credit with the cause of the whole incident. Who can properly ride a horse when wearing a helmet , rather than a cowboy hat. That will shake anyone’s confidence. The park ranger then asked, “Who has the most experience?” I proudly spoke up and was directed to a brown-and-white horse that looked peaceful enough, but, I now know, was the spawn of Satan. I don’t remember the name of the horse, but I will refer to it, now and forever, Sphincter.
Anyway, I placed my foot in the stirrup and attempted to mount (this is the last time I’m saying it, stop the sniggering) Sphincter. My first attempt failed, but I gave it another shot, which also failed. It should be noted that my left knee, my mounting knee, is, to use a medical term, “screwed up.” It does not bare weight very well and sometimes locks up. When I reach Medicare age (if there is to be such a thing in the future), I will have it repaired.
Since, two attempts to saddle up had failed, the park ranger suggested I use a set of steps used by children, midgets and those people with the agility of a one-legged barn monkey. Well, this seemed simple enough. I was so elevated that I figured I didn’t even need to put my foot in the stirrup, and I threw my leg across the saddle. It was then Sphincter decided to shift a little. All of a sudden my rear end was no longer above the saddle, but beside my malicious, tick-infested excuse for equine gentility. My grip on the saddle horn wasn’t enough to secure my 230-some pounds and down I went. If I had hit the ground clean, I think I would have been okay. Embarrassed, sure, but not injured. However, that is not what happened. When I went down, I planted my back, and I think, my kidneys, firmly on the steps. As I rolled over in agony, I looked up at Sphincter. He was staring at me with a look that not only showed his disdain for me, but said, if he could talk, “Bite me, cowboy.”
Then the park ranger asked if I was okay. I replied, “I don’t know yet,” because I expected to find a kidney, and quite possibly, a spleen laying in the dirt. She walked me back into the office and applied disinfectant to the foot-long abrasions running down my lower back. She continued to ask me if I was okay, then had me sign an accident report. I didn’t read it, but I knew Sphincter would not receive any of the blame for this.
We spent the rest of the day at the park, and had a good time. However, I could not frolic in the river, or ride a canoe, or do anything that required me to move quicker than a quadriplegic sloth. As we left for the day, the Mistress of the Manor wanted to go by the stables and say goodbye to Dakota, her well-trained and non-evil horse. I said I would prefer to visit the stables on another trip, when I am back to full health, if ever I am, because I had a grudge to settle with Sphincter. His day is coming.