Goat Gripes

A few weeks ago, Garris was through practicing his goat tying. So, I was leading the goat back to her pen. All was well until we were four feet from her gate. She ran around my legs, got the rope wrapped twice around my right leg, and then she ran full tilt at the gate opening.

My ankle went quickly from side to side, and I heard and felt a visible ‘pop’. I screamed.

I wanted to kick her, but I honestly thought my ankle was broken. I couldn’t put any weight on it. Then the tears started. I held back the pee, but it was close.

It took my son about five minutes to cool his horse down and get to where I was. Naturally, he was oblivious. He tied his horse up then put the goat away.

My ankle was messed up. I still couldn’t put it on the ground. I felt the joint was loose and feared the worst.

I made it over to my pickup, got my book and sock off, and swore when I saw how swollen my ankle and foot already were. It looked like I had a softball at my ankle. And the bruising was already starting. I put the foot up, and put some ice on it. Did I mention we were at his dad’s house?

My son still needed to rope calves, so when he had his horse warmed up, I hobbled over to the chute, so I could run it. I still couldn’t put much weight on it, but we got through the night. Can’t say I’ve ever run a chute balancing on one leg before. By the time I got back to the pickup, my toes were swelling.

I did get us home, but the drive was a little slower than normal. My ankle was worse the next day. It took me about fifteen minutes before I could walk on it at all.

And of course, that night was the first night of the first spring college rodeo for my older son. I taped my ankle, put a brace on it, and put the only thing I could fit over my foot: a hiking boot. I drove 60 miles to Bozeman, carefully hobbled into the arena, and watched rodeo for three hours. Then I drove home and unwrapped a very fat and throbbing ankle.

For all the rodeo moms out there, you know exactly what I was going through. We help our kids practice. We run chutes. We set up barrels. We tape their practices. We tape their competitions. We drive them. We help them get horses ready. Sometimes we even warm those horses up. Seems like the list is never-ending.

My boys all started roping and competing when they were pee wees. I figured it was a good way to keep them horseback in a family activity. Little did I know all these years later, they would still be competing and still loving their horse activities.

I’ve always had a rule that my boys don’t ride any horses unless one of us was there to watch them. Even the most kid-friendly, bomb-proof horse can have a bad day. They can buck, run off, spook, just like the greenest horse on the place.

That means I’ve racked up thousands of hours of practice time, right along with my kids.

Unlike other sports, rodeo requires each competitor to get to a rodeo on their own. No busses. No community trailer. So, I’ve logged a lot of miles driving my kids all over the state to rodeos. (And sometimes across the country.)

As the years have unfolded, I’ve been bitten, kicked, stepped on, and run over. I’ve sprained my ankle more than once. I’ve gotten hand burns. I’ve smacked my head on the trailer hooking it up.

I’ve had my feet roped. My body roped. And have gotten the knot-end of the rope more than once. I’ve pulled dummies behind four-wheelers. I’ve untied calves and goats. I’ve reset barrels and poles.

I get asked all the time why I don’t ride much anymore. And why I haven’t competed in years. Really? Because I’ve chosen to focus my attention on my kids. I had my chance. Now is the time for my boys to learn and to shine. I wouldn’t change a thing about the last several years. I’ve been with my kids most weekends. I’ve seen them blossom, both in their rodeo skills and social ones. They’ve made some great friends within this community of competitors. They’ve learned how to win – and lose – with grace and sportsmanship.

So, I’ll accept some bumps and bruises along the way if it helps my boys in their quest for rodeo greatness. But I will be glad when we don’t have to bother with the goats any longer. Garris is going into high school next year, so he’s about done with those critters.

I’ve never tried goat meat. After this latest sprain, I’m thinking of barbecue! But I’m not sure I’d want to eat that miserable old doe. She’d probably have the last laugh by making me deathly sick.

I’m finally back to normal walking. And after three weeks, I was able to start working out again. But since that night, my son has refused to let me take the goats back to the pen. Smart kid.


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