Cowboys like to ride

Humans like to ride. They climb onto anything that can move and “go for a ride.” Even inveterate “hikers” catch a ride to the trailhead, the faster the better.

It begins when we’re little, with tricycles, and really never ends.

The milk cow was one of my favorite rides when I was young. While her head is in the stanchion and she’s busy eating, a kid sitting on her back is a minor aggravation.
After a few days she’s sorta used to it, and you can stay on after her head comes out of the stanchion and she walks around the corral. We called that “breaking her to ride.”

The milk pen calf, of course, was handy — in the pen all day — so he got ridden most every day. By the time he got weaning age, though, he’d figured out how to get rid of us fairly often.

My next favorite — besides the horses — was a mule. He was saddle broke, but if we were in a hurry we could forget it. If he didn’t care to go right then, he’d just ignore all our kicking and spurring.

One day my brother and I caught him in a good mood, and he took off in a long trot. There was only one problem. We forgot to hook up the britchen strap from the saddle around his rear end, so he dumped us over his neck, saddle and all.

Mules, unlike horses, don’t have enough withers to hold a saddle in place. We never forgot that again. He was smart, so I figured his unusual eagerness to go had something to do with our forgetfulness.

My least favorite was a really big old sow. She had the run of the horse pasture outside the corrals along with most anyplace else she wanted to go. We tried our riding skills on her many times, and got fairly good at it.

Kids like to show off, you know, so when our cousins came to visit we couldn’t wait to demonstrate our riding expertise on that old sow. Soon as I got on she squealed — really loud — and headed for a pi