(Mary and Sienna)
It started almost 25 years ago…not the BAD friend part…just the friend part. Mary was my husband’s client…brought her dog in with severe pyometra and in the ensuing conversation revealed that she was looking for a place to board her horse. I board horses…so we met.
After that we spent endless hours together, mostly on horseback, but doing other things too. She’s brilliant and self-effacing and fun…everything I look for in a friend. Several years later, she got married and moved away. Not out of the country or anything…just far enough away to make it difficult to ride together. Bummer. But time passed and I began riding games. Here in the Midwest we call barrel racing and other speed events ‘gaming’. In the east they call it gymkana. There are wonderful sports like pole weaving:
(Bint and me.)
And rescue race:
Anyway, about two years ago I suggested that Mary buy a new horse and begin gaming with me. Let me just interject here that never in my wildest dreams, did I expect her to simply concur with my newest hare-brained idea. But to make a dull story a little less blunt, I’ll just say that she agreed and we went equine shopping together.
It was all great fun. She ended up purchasing a cute little strawberry roan named Sienna. She’s not very tall…just 14.2 hands which is great for Mary who stands about three inches tall in her riding boots. And she’s a cuddly little mare…loves people, plus she was only four years old…which meant she has lots of years ahead of her. The problem was…she wasn’t fully trained. But, “Never mind,” quoth I boldly. “I’ll put some time on her back and you’ll be able to pop her into the arena quick as a bunny.” So she popped. We took her to a couple shows where everything went fine…mostly. Two weeks ago we competed in another show. Sienna was great. She understood the patterns, she was calm. Time to start picking up some speed, we decided. So, when Mary took her into the barrel racing class, she started asking a little more of her. Imagine this: The first two barrels are beautiful….tight, controlled, balanced. Now she’s coming home from the third can. The crowd is cheering. “Bring her home. Come on. Open her up.” That’s when Sienna started to buck. There was a collective hiss from the crowd followed by clever advice like, “Slow her down. Keep her head up.” And my personal favorite: “Stay with her.” But Mary didn’t slow her down. Neither did she keep her head up, or stay with her. Sienna did about four hops then came to a jolting halt three feet from a gate. Mary, on the other hand, didn’t stop at all and crashed into the steel tubing head first.
Now me, I’ve known Mary come through far worse. She’s a boxer, a motorcyclist, a scrapper. I was sure she would just pop up and say, “Well, that was interesting.” But she didn’t pop up. People started hovering over her. Sitting on my horse outside the ring, I began alternating between cursing and praying. When I finally handed my little mare off to someone else, Mary was still lying in the dirt, gazing serenely into the sky and asking what happened. It didn’t seem too serious…until she asked me the same question another 10 times. That’s when the ambulance arrived. That’s when I got a free trip to the hospital with her. And that’s when I decided I must be relegated to the ‘bad friend’ department.
Since then Mary has recovered most of her memory…though there are still holes regarding the actual day of the accident. I’m just hoping she’ll forget who got her into this in the first place.
So how about you? Have you ever been a really bad friend? Have you ever made a suggestion that got someone in trouble? Sadly, I seem to have a lot of these stories. Please tell me you do too.