Friday, August 18, 2006
I can pick up a spider. I can fondle a snake as I escort it outside. Dead mice don't bother me. For the most part I evolved quite predictably from my puppy dog tails boyhood beginnings into the fearless when confronted with Nature guy that I am. But there is a flaw in my mud born personality. A minor eccentricity, fear, no, make that a full blown phobia. Pistol was his name. Looking cute and innocent just this pony's game. Inside he was a demon. An evil animal bent on throwing the fear of God into any unsuspecting child dumb enough to let Dad or Uncle Bob plop them on his back. I remember thinking Pistol did not look all that friendly and inviting. But with much goading they called encouragement, I allowed my butt to straddle his back. The adult let go of the halter. I sat there rigid, frozen and could not feel the reins in my tight hands. Pistol shook his mighty mane. Shifted to the right and threw his head in my direction like he was sizing me up. And then I squeezed my legs. Pistol lived up to his name that day. He bolted out of the barn door. Once in the open corral, he began to buck. He threw his front end up and his mane brushed my face as I just missed his taut neck. Then down and oh shit, his rear came up and off I went. The last thing I remember was watching one rear hoof as it kicked again and came straight at my head. I was eight years old at the time. I learned two things that day. Never trust a horse. And never let an adult convince you to take chances without serious dig your heels in resistance. For I woke to the results of trusting both. A good size divet in my head and the relieved face of a traitorous parent. For the last 46 years or so I have nursed this fear of anything equine. Worked hard to create decent distance between me and all the Pistols in this world. People have told me I am silly. Horses are easy. You just have to show em who's boss. Be forceful, aggressive but kind. Riiight. Look, I have very few if any fears of anything else out there. Please leave me alone to enjoy and savor this one little phobia. I know it is silly. I know I could overcome. But why bother? Unlike bungee jumpin, I do have a clue of what I have missed. And I am glad I did.