Monday, May 28, 2012

Beverly Hillbilly Adventure, Part Deux

Beverly Hillbilly Adventures Part Deux

Back to Pittsburgh later... As many of you know, I ride horses.  I used to ride with a great deal more passion and commitment before I had kids. I ride with blurred vision from fatigue most of the time now and a helmet as many of you know.  A helmet to a cowgirl is like a tutu to linebacker. Not cool.

But, as I said, I have kids. And who wants to end up with a closed head injury with little kids?  I already explained in great detail what would happen if I decided to take a day off.  I’d be fishing my Escalade out of the impound lot and bailing my 5 and 6-year-olds out for MIPs. Can you imagine if I were laid up indefinitely with a reduction in cognitive capacity? As if that were even possible.  Perish the thought and cross your heart doing it.

Cowboys don’t wear helmets, by the way. Especially Buck Brannaman, the famous inspiration behind Robert Redford’s “The Horse Whisperer” character.  Only parenthetically choking back urge to hurl right now.

Anyway, I would call myself somewhere between an advanced beginner and intermediate horsewoman.  I don’t keep horses on my property so I don’t have the day-to-day interactions with them that a lot of my friends do. I ride intermittently as a result of the age of my kids and my husband’s ridiculous travel schedule.  That’s the best I can hope for right now.

Buck’s movie came out last year.  I really enjoyed it a lot.  I thought he seemed really awesome with the horses and really sweet with the people. Obviously, that’s just the way the movie was cut!  At one point, somebody says ‘he’s part horse himself.’ Yeah, I bet you can guess which part I think he is now.

So in late May last year, after my horse got out of a month in the MSU Vet hospital, I saw just the TRAILER for the movie.  The trailer made me cry.  I got so excited. I got right online looking for his clinics around this area. 

It was miraculous, I thought. There was going to be one from September 15th-20th in Petoskey at the Bay Harbor Equestrian Center.  The name of the clinic: Horsemanship 101. Perfect. I’ll start from the beginning. Divinely inspired. My sister has a house in Charlevoix. I'll park my rig at the center and then commute the 15 miles in the mornings. 

I spent the first part of the summer eagerly awaiting the actual movie, which we saw in July.  I spent the rest of the summer packing.  I bought a brand new trailer, for goodness sake.  Shaking head again.

Upon my return from this thing, I spent the remainder of the fall rocking back and forth in the corner eating my hair and mumbling to myself.  Horsemanship 101? I don’t know what just happened, but THAT was not a horsemanship class.  That was waterboarding.

The first day I arrived, I met 3 or 4 really nice people. The folks on either side of my stall were great. The women running the clinic were wonderful.  I thought, ‘wow, this is fortuitous.’ 

He made 4 or 5 people cry, not just me. So it wasn’t like I was alone in my shaming.  One poor woman, an environmental lawyer from Ann Arbor who was really cool, had the misfortune of having the name “Adrian”.  Buck’s first wife’s name was Adrienne. So, he was on her like chrome on a trailer hitch.  He screamed her name into his little Madonna microphone.  Earsplitting.  She was riding this little mix of a pony. Mare, rank, ornery, sassy.  So he told her to go the wall of the arena and do serpentines until he said so.  It was 40 minutes until he called her off the side.   He was hollering at her like she was a misbehaving child.  His brand of pedantry was so old school that it would’ve made my Grandma Feeney cringe. And she was old school, ironing-cord style.

I did have the misfortune of catching Buck’s stink eye early in the show.  But let me tell you one thing.  He must’ve known that I would not have taken one minute of him getting in my face like he did to Adrian before I would have knocked his hunched-over, crooked- legged cowboy ass right out the saddle.  So he came at ME sideways. He didn’t scream my name over the mike, he just spoke of the problems I was having in the third person after the fact.  It was so odd that my stall mate road by and asked 'what the hell was that all about?' no fewer than 4 times throughout the 5 days we were there.  That is, until the last hour of the last day.  

(To be continued)

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