In the early 60's you could see some of the changes brought to the Lake area by the oil wealth being shared with the workers. There were more small farms out behind Campo Rojo and lots of cars. We would take rides out behind Tia Juana in the savannahs and come across small ranchitas with horses and Americans out riding.

Someone had the bright idea of setting up a corral of horses under some large spreading trees on the creek bed near the lake behind the Main Offices. The owners rented the horses for riding on the roads back in the vicinity of the coral.

I had just returned from Jr. College and a group of us decided to rent horses for a ride. It was near noon and the sun was boiling. I think Randy and Mike Lanciault along with Franca Vettor and a couple of others that I can't recall drove to the corral in my jeep. We had been drinking Cuba Libres and cerveza.

We each paid about 5Bs to rent a horse for an hour or so. The horses were swayed-back nags. The saddles were Colombian which is a wooden frame with a blanket thrown across the back of the horse. Stirrups hung from the frame. None of us knew much about horses so we didn't think to adjust the stirrups. We just got on and took a nice leisurely ride out one of the roads. We had a great time joking and talking and the sun beat down.

Now, the horses had been ridden many times and just plodded along so all you had to do was let them have their heads. Unbeknownst to me was the fact that I was riding the “beast”. The sun beat down and man it was hot. We were wearing jeans and T-shirts and were beginning to feel the effects of the heat and the alcohol. All of us including the horses began to feel dehydrated. So, we decided to head back.

ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE!! The “beast” took the bit in its teeth, put its head down and broke into a wild run towards the creek where it was cool and there was water. Now, my memory of this is etched in my mind. The “beast” could not be stopped, I tugged back on the reins with all my strength leaning back with my feet extended past the “beast's” head all the while bouncing up and down on its spine and bouncing around the wood saddle frame. It headed off the road into the thorn brush and where during the rainy season the cattle had grazed leaving deep hoof-prints in the now dried brick-hard mud. I knew it would break its leg and I think I saw “death” riding beside me, leering and laughing. The horse crashed through the brush with me hanging on for dear life and came to the creek and coral where it came to a sudden halt leaving me in a cloud of dust. I was scratched all over, my tai-bone was battered, my inner thighs were raw meat and my pride was non-existent and worse of all my friends saw it all.

I was not cool!!

And that's the way it was and to this day I will not ride a horse. I have a motorcycle and it does what I want it to do and much faster.

That's the way it was.

 

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