Contrary to Scout’s recalcitrance in prison school, once he was at the ranch he proved adept at learning certain things extremely quickly. After he touched his nose to the electrified yellow wire around his enclosure, it took him a week before he let me lead him through the enclosure gate; in his mind, even being six feet from that wire was too close.
Not only was he perspicacious about hot wires, he figured out easily that a few surprise bucks could get me off his back in an instant. Worse, he understood that my biceps were no match for his powerful neck, that it was a simple matter to take hold of the bit and run away with me on board anytime he wanted to do something other than what I was asking. He did this in the most alarming places, such as down a rocky slope or through dense trees, or even in front of twenty other riders and trainers at a week-long clinic. I remember each of these run-aways clearly, along with the blur of landscape and my amazement at his sure-footedness.
Though these wild rides didn’t happen frequently, when they did I invariably wound up dumped at high speed on the ground. I’d lay sprawled for a good many minutes, overcome with a potent combination of adrenaline shock and giddiness that I’d survived. Invariably, Scout would stand over me, puzzled about what I was doing on the ground. Soon he’d be grazing while I patted myself down to see if anything hurt more than normal.
By all rights, in such escapades I should have gotten severely broken bones, if not snapped my neck and died. And no doubt I should have sent Scout back to the penitentiary, too. But I didn’t. And I couldn’t. Instead, I’d limp home and toss my torn, dirty jeans in the laundry before Bernard could see them. Then I’d take a handful of Advil myself, lie on the couch with some strategically placed ice packs, and try to revive myself so Bernard wouldn’t know that once again Scout had had his way with me. No sense adding his worry to my own.
Pretty near constantly, I puzzled with the Rubics Cube of how to avoid such painful outcomes next time. I twisted the squares of my riding, my horse, my life in all directions, looking for the secret. And because I knew that somehow Scout could show me the way, I climbed back on.