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0209 PD: On the Edge of Common Sense: Always be ridin’ yer horse

Baxter Black Published on 14 January 2009

'Always be ridin’ yer horse'

A good cowboy passed along that bit of wisdom. He learned it from his dad.

I have since passed it on to young or inexperienced riders as regular as the car dinger reminds me to fasten my seat belt.



More riders get unseated due to not payin’ attention, than to bronky horses. A misstep, badger hole, jack rabbit, rattlesnake, mule deer, covey of quail, piece of paper, puff of wind or brain flatulation can cause your horse to go berserk!

He will jump sideways, rear, skitter or whirl, leaving you momentarily where he was ... but now he’s over there and you’re in midair! It’s all about riding with your legs. This piece of advice can be applied to driving your car, making a business deal, pleasing your spouse or taking a class. Keep your eye on the road, your hand on the wheel and your mind on what you’re doin’!

Another larger than life guideline, ‘If yer horse is doin’ what you want him to, give him his head’

How many times have you seen new riders simultaneously pull back on the reins and kick ‘em in the ribs? I tell ‘em it’s like stepping on the brakes and the gas at the same time! How many times have you explained to your kid how to cut a board, make a cake, deal the cards or paint the shed and then hung over them instructing continuously until they scream in frustration? Show ‘em how then get outta the way and give them a chance to do it right.

‘If you plan on getting throwed, ride on the balls of yer feet. If yer gonna ride it out, shove yer feet all the way into the stirrup’


Remember, most riders’ injuries occur when they hit the ground. You stand a lot better chance of survival if you stay in the saddle. We are talking about confidence here, not bravado.

‘When yer horse stumbles, lift up his head’

A horse’s head weighs as much as a bag of cement. He’s got to catch himself to check his fall. By lifting his head and leaning back you move his center of gravity to the aft, and like a boat, the nose will come up, and he can get his feet under him; same for students and puppies.

Sometimes you’ve got to pull them back from temptation or a mistake long enough to let them catch their balance.

‘If yer horse starts walking off as you’re tryin’ to mount ... stop him.’

There is a moment between your feet leaving the ground and your seat hitting the saddle that is akin to the football leaving the punter’s toe and the receiver getting creamed. It’s just a good idea to get behind the wheel of your tractor before you put it in gear. PD