How did it get to be the 2nd of May? I guess ’cause I spent the weekend with my daughter at her young gelding’s first barrel futurity, in Cardston Alberta under old Chief Mountain. She wants to be a barrel racer when she grows up. Always did.
We used to team rope when she was little. She tried heeling but eventually became a better header and pasture roper, apparently. I took a water-belly steer to town one day to get heiferized [I still can believe they actually do that, YUCK, some day I’ll have to tell you all that story too] and she stayed to help her dad rope yearlings out on the pasture. When I came back he proudly told me that she was a better roper than I am. I might have been insulted if it hadn’t made me so proud too.
My cowboy used to get the kids up to practice before school and when they got off the bus they practiced till it got so dark I would have to go out there and threaten to get them to come in.
One winter evening we went to roping practice at the indoor arena in the closest town. This barrel racing daughter was 12, roping on her little sister’s pin-eared buckskin gelding, Casey. I was up in the bleachers watching. She was sitting on the buckskin by her dad waiting their turn to rope.
Then I see her getting off and her little sister climb up on Casey, her own horse. I thought the barrel racer was probably headed to the washroom and the little one was just sitting on the horse till she got back.
Somebody I knew walked past and we exchanged a few words and when I looked up my cowboy and this little 10 year old were both riding into the boxes, her on the heeling side and him heading. (a note: with gum boots that were so much too big for her they fell off if she ran which was complicated by the fact that she couldn’t reach the stirrups anyway since they were set up for her older, longer-legged sister)
My cowboy nodded and the buckskin broke so hard on the first jump that the little one only just managed to stay with him. They came back, purposely not looking at me, and before I could get down there to ask him where in the world his brain had gone, the barrel racer ran up and asked: “Did you say she could ride the horse?”
“Of course not,” I told her.
“Well, she said you said she could,” she pouted.
Again I looked up as they rode in the box. I waved frantically but both of the culprets were carefully ignoring me. My cowboy nodded and out they came. This time the little girl held on the horn and stayed with her horse that first jump.
My husband caught the steer and slowed it right down. This little girl, with too big gum boots and no stirrups, was right there on his heels. She swung, threw, picked up one hind leg, dallied, her horse stopped, my husband faced up, and the everybody in the building, who saw it, gave a great whoop and a holler.
The barrel racer who had never caught despite her best effort crossed her arms on her chest and said to me: “That’s it, I’m never roping again!” But, of course, she did.