Runaway horses |

Runaway horses

Su Lum

When I was 11, I was boosted up onto the back of a horse named Banner who lived a couple of miles down the road. I was a horse-crazy kid who saved my allowance and caught Japanese beetles to earn the $2 it cost at a local stable to ride a horse around a fenced meadow for an hour, and I fancied myself quite the equestrienne.Banner was equipped with an English saddle, the stirrups way below my feet, and the idea was that I’d ride him down our driveway and back. Banner had other ideas in mind; the second I was hoisted up he flattened his ears, grabbed the bit in his teeth and made a Run for the Roses onto the asphalt, headed hell-bent for his barn.I was in equal parts terrified and mortified, crying out, my actual words, “Help! Help! How embarrassing!” As we rounded a hairpin turn, me now astride Banner’s NECK holding onto his forelock, my older sister’s boyfriend, driving toward us, grasped the situation, jumped out of his car, threw his arms into a crucifix position, commanded “WHOA!” and grabbed the bridle.That was memorable, not the least for Banner’s owner, who had imagined the worst.I had had more experiences with horses, though apparently not enough, when I was taking care of a feisty little mare named Missy in the late ’60s in Aspen. Missy and I had been trotting amiably around up Hunter Creek when, in a moment of inattention on my part, she got a hankering for home and rocketed all the way down Red Mountain, then unpaved, skidding around the sharp corners in a cloud of dust.This time I stayed in the saddle, praying that there would be no upcoming cars, and finally managed to steer her up to the Smuggler Mine dumps, where she stopped, both of us in a lather. I was reminded of these events while waiting for a long time on Aspen Street to cross Main Street. Zoom, zoom, zoom, an endless line of cars, SUVs, dump trucks, bikes and buses. This was the corner where Arthur’s Restaurant used to be, and as I waited I was missing Arthur’s breakfasts and the big pot he rode in during the Wintersköl parade with his chef’s hat on, which reminded me of the day a friend of mine and I had been riding our horses in the West End.All dirt streets, irrigation brooks winding alongside, off to the music tent to lean back in the saddle and listen to the orchestra rehearsing, then take a turn around the racetrack at the Aspen Meadows, now a barely visible path but still there.I was riding Rusty, a following horse, meaning that if the horse in front went over a tightrope or a log across a river, Rusty would follow right along. Thus it was that when, on our return, my friend’s horse suddenly decided to bolt across Main Street without looking either way much less both, Rusty galloped after him.This event was over in a flash, but even back in those days it was risky to leap out into traffic on Main Street, and as I waited in my car (zoom, zoom, zoom) I realized that it would probably be fatal today, and remembered that pitter-pat dash across the street with a combination of terror and nostalgia.Su Lum is a longtime local whose mind drifts. Her column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times.

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