The Farm Chronicles: The saddle and the fight

Daryl was about three years older than me. He was several inches taller and much more physically mature. He came from a well-to-do family. He knew he was privileged and didn’t bother to hide it. He knew everything. Had done everything. Was better at everything than anybody else. And he ran his mouth constantly. His younger brother was my age, and he was pretty much the exact opposite of Daryl. Still younger, was a sister who was kind and shy. They all showed horses. They didn’t compete well against the rest of us in that they were often out of the ribbons. Their dad figured out how they could win by buying into the newly emerging registered paint horse circuit.

Daryl’s dad sponsored the Paint Horse classes, bought the ribbons and trophies. His kids and hired hands rode his six horses in the classes and won the ribbons and trophies. Hauling in all that hardware and having his name announced over the loudspeaker as the winner made Daryl’s head even bigger than his hat. He didn’t care that he really didn’t win anything that his dad hadn’t bought. Having more self-awareness and character, his brother and sister were, I think, a bit embarrassed by the whole charade. Daryl’s self-esteem was boosted every time his family placed first, second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth in the Paint Horse classes that his dad bought and paid for the privilege.

But Daryl had another problem. He wasn’t that good of a rider. I don’t recall Daryl ever winning against those of us who showed in the open classes. But that didn’t stop Daryl from his prideful boasting. It just so happened that about 40 of us were on our horses waiting in the paddock for the pleasure horse class and Daryl moseyed on up and started picking on me. “Pretty fancy saddle,” he quipped. I said, “Thanks, my dad gave it to me for my 16th birthday.” “What? You can’t win anything on that scrub horse of yours so your dad thought a new saddle would make a difference?” Daryl kept gigging me. Finally, I quipped that my dad buying me a new saddle was nothing like his dad buying all the ribbons and trophies so he could at least win something. Insulted and provoked, Daryl rode closer and knocked off my hat, hitting the dust below.

He looked at me and then around to the others whose eyes were now focused on us and said, “Well, what are you going to do about it?” To his surprise, I leaped from my horse and tackled Daryl off his horse, falling to the ground, smashing his hat, breaking his glasses and tearing his shirt as we rolled around beneath the horses’ feet. Finally, somebody pulled me off of him as he was whimpering and wiping blood off his nose. I dusted myself off, got on my horse and went into the ring. I was so hyped up on adrenalin that I hardly recall the class until my name was called and the trophy presented. Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall.” We all saw it play out literally that day. Funny thing about it though, Daryl actually became friendly after that and changed his tone toward others.

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Bill Wilson