Death by Bucking Horse

There was this one horse. His name was Houdini, and he was solid, pure black. I had always wanted to ride Houdini but I was always told that my skill levels weren’t high enough, or that he was too “green.” When I got to riding Layla and a pony called Dixie my mind wandered away from Houdini.

When sophomore year came around, I had first seen Houdini during my freshman year, I saw much less of Houdini, but occasionally I would still see him around. I wasn’t sure where he went at all, but I slightly remember someone telling me that he was either out in pasture or being trained by someone else.

This year, my junior year, he’s back, and I continued to ask to ride him. For two months I got continuous no’s but with promises of “wait until we ride him for a week,” or, “once you’re able to keep your back straight.” I kinda gave up hope by the second month, really.

Winter sports started, and the current horse I was riding was needed by another rider. I remember walking into the barn and then being jumped upon by an instructor. “I have exciting news for you!” she said. For some reason I had literally no idea what she would have said. “We’re gonna put you on Houdini!”

Internally I was jumping up and down like a little girl who had finally gotten a pony for her birthday, but on the outside I just took a couple breaths and said “wwwwwoooooooowwww oh thank gods yes finally…”

Houdini was still extremely green and didn’t seem to understand how large he was. He would swing his head around and try to cuddle (I think) me but would end up knocking me into a wall or the gate. I learned how to move quickly and duck away within the first few days.

We believe that Houdini is part Friesian – Royal Friesian Horse, that is. They look like cousins of Gypsy Horses, and they’re a stunning breed. The way they walk, trot, and gallop is extremely upright and almost stiff, like every step they take is deliberate. In my mind I called them the “soldier horse” because they were so methodical with their steps.

Houdini could hardly walk in a straight line. Seriously, I’d try to keep him on the rail and he’d end up either running into it or turning away from it. He actually ran me into a jump pole once, but he’s learning, I think.

A skill that all riders must know is how to lunge a horse. The gist of it is basically to chase a horse around a little round pen while giving them instructions such as “trot” or “canter.” Houdini would trot and canter for a few circles, buck in my direction a few times, then stop completely and simply stare at me.

What I didn’t understand was what he didn’t understand. He followed my instructions perfectly, to walk, to trot, to canter, yet he would always stop a few minutes in and stand square in front of me, unmoving. Even when I tapped him with our bright, neon-orange whip he would stare at me like “what are you doing I did not sign up for this.”

Oh, and he bucks. Like, a lot. If I keep the reins a little too long at the trot he lowers his head and starts bucking. Or that’s the official term, what Houdini does is more like pronking. Usually done by antelopes, pronking is when they leap up into the air with an arched back and stiff legs.

Yeah, that’s what Houdini does. In an hour he pronks about 4 times and I have yet to fall off. There was one pronk, this one was more like a rodeo buck, where I crash-landed on the saddle and hit my knee on something hard. That was two days ago and I still have a massive yellow bruise.

(Mien gott look at that mane)

I call Houdini my Butternut Squash.

Squash because he likes to squash me against the walls of the stall.

Butter because his coat gleams like melted butter.

And nut because he’s the nuttiest horse I may ever ride.

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