<% appTitle="Ridecamp Archives" %> Ridecamp: [RC] American Spirit, Part Two

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    [RC] American Spirit, Part Two - Howard Bramhall

    So, the Doctor, my neighbor, who owned Rebel was desperate. Plus, he was going through a divorce and it was his soon to be ex-wife who was into horses, not the Doc.  The good Doctor, with his new, young, voluptuous looking girlfriend, was now into golf, and Rebel was not allowed at their Country Club.  I found out about all this through the Doc's new, young, voluptuous girlfriend, whom I had run into one day, where I was working, when her arrival in our office (we were connected to the Doc's Country Club and she had to come in and get a visitor's pass for a friend of hers) just about shut our office down.  The woman looked like a well proportioned (not skinny, she had curves everywhere) and well dressed model; I flirted with her shamelessly and, somehow, we got to talking about their Arabian horse, who kept attacking a neighbor's mare, even after he was gelded. 
    I set up a meeting to take a look at their horse the next day.  I went there with the attitude that the Doc wouldn't be all that interested in making a lot of money from this horse, walked down my street to the biggest house and most incredible barn on our block which just happened to be the Doc's place.  I took a real good look at this 4 year old registered Arabian, who was 15 hands tall, and full of life.  I wound up purchasing Rebel for 300 dollars, explaining to the Doc as I made my low ball offer, that I was risking my life here trying to get this horse ready to ride any time soon.  Doc jumped on my price quicker than a gator snapping a dog off a lakebed and Rebel joined our herd.  Looking back on it all now, I probably could have gotten Rebel for a hundred bucks, I think the good Doctor was that desperate to get rid of his horse.
    Rebel was 4 years old at the time, and, like I said earlier, unbroke.  My daughter, Courtney, who was 16 years old back then thought she'd be the first one to make that attempt at riding Rebel.  Courtney was pretty brave, so I agreed, but insisted she wear something to protect her head.  My family wasn't into endurance or helmets back then, so, the best we could come up with was an old football helmet we found lying around the house somewhere.  It had taken us a couple of days to get Rebel relaxed enough to allow us to put a saddle on him, and after accomplishing that, here comes Courtney with the football helmet on her head, reminding me of Jack Nicholson wearing his football helmet to ride on the back of a motorcycle in the movie "Easy Rider."  If ya'll have seen the movie, you might remember how it all turned out for Jack; not well. 
    But, alas, Courtney just didn't have the courage she thought she did.  As she approached Rebel, from the left side, the horse started snorting something awful, scaring all of us around him.  You knew whomever got on this horse was going to take a fall.  It was just a question of how fast and how hard.  Courtney changed her mind, removed the helmet and handed it to me.  Ha, "Are you crazy?" I asked.  "I'm in no rush to die today."  Riding Rebel could wait awhile.
    At the time I happened to be on a men's softball team.  One of the younger guys on the team, name of Clyde, would get to bragging every now and then as to how he used to be a bull rider.  Some of the guys on the team believed him, some did not.  I thought now might be a good opportunity for everyone to find out the truth about Clyde, so, one day, after ball practice, while we were all drinking some beer, talking about wimmen and cars and fishing, I started talking about my new horse.  I had a plan, but I didn't want to come right out with it; no need to be too obvious.  I was hoping one of the guys would jump on the bait and run with it till I got Clyde hooked, in a position where he couldn't get away.
    And, that's what happened.  We all came up with a day that was good for everyone, and the entire softball team met at my house, early on a Saturday morning, all of us anxious to see if Clyde really could ride those bulls like he told us he could.  I did ask Clyde to sign a note that I had come up with, just for fun, that read, "I will not sue Howard or Erica if I die today while trying to ride one of their horses.  I promise," signed Clyde.  Then, we passed the letter around, so everyone could witness the letter with their signatures, and this got folks to joking around about who Clyde wanted for pall bearers and all, and everyone was just having a grand ole time.
    Then, I brought Rebel out.  Now Rebel was none too happy having all these onlookers hanging around, and, even though we had rehearsed this part a dozen or so times, he started bucking and kicking when I tried to put the saddle on him.  The joking around kind of stopped, and everyone got real quiet.  I finally got the saddle on Rebel, but all these brave ball playing men got to realize this was the real deal.  Rebel started to snorting and carrying on, and I held the reins as Clyde approached his new challenge.  I will say this, Clyde did not have the look of fear on him at all.  In fact, I think I was more scared just trying to hold this unwilling, trotting in place, fire breathing horse.
    One of the players had a video camera and had been filming most of what was going on.  He got as close as he dared with the camera, but still stayed about ten feet or more away.  Clyde approached from the side, put his left foot in the stirrup, and Rebel started going crazy. Clyde backed off, and reexamined the situation.  Clyde just told me to let him have the reins and to try and keep Rebel from moving sideways, by me staying on Rebel's right side, by his head, sort of holding on the reins, but ready to run out of the way when Clyde said, "Go."  I'm not sure if that's some sort of technical term the rodeo folks use or not, but "go," is what Clyde came up with.  To me, "go," meant "run like hell."
    And, when Clyde put his left foot into the saddle the second time, this is exactly what I did.  Clyde never did make it around completely to get his right foot in the other stirrup, as Rebel, right on cue, started bucking and kicking out all over the place.  Clyde ended up in some trees that had this briar patch prickly bush all around where Clyde eventually landed after coming down from what I'd estimate to be a 15 foot fall.  You see, Clyde went up, way up, airborne, and damn if he didn't fall right into the briar patch.
    But, Rebel wasn't done with just dumping ole Clyde into the briars, oh no.  Rebel continued bucking and kicking and running around scaring everyone in sight.  The guy with the video camera dropped his equipment and went running for his life.  Folks scattered everywhere, running around as if they were all going to die.  And, Rebel played his part, bucking and kicking out and chasing them all over my back pasture.  I just stood there and watched it all, thinking this is one of the funniest things I have ever seen in my entire lifetime. It kind of reminded me of when the bull goes after those clowns in the rodeo after he dumps the rider, except these clowns were terrified and none of them had any intention of protecting anyone but themselves.  Run, run, run for your lives!  I swear, this had to be the highlight of Rebel's life, right up there with what he did to that neighbor's mare, over and over again.  I still have a copy of that video, and the part with the camera falling to the ground with the owner dropping it, and the screams of everyone in the background is my favorite part.  Rebel, was indeed, now part of my family.  He was fitting right in.


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