by Laura Crum
OK—I had a sort of near wreck the other day that really pissed me off. I would like to tell the story and get your feedback.
My son and I and a friend were gathering the cattle (on horseback) from the pasture at our local practice arena while the proprietor ran the sprinklers on the arena ground. We had the cattle in the small pen behind the arena and were trying to push them through the back gate into the crowding alley. The cattle, knowing what that meant, were resisting. My son and I were right next to the arena fence, totally focused on the cattle, when, with no warning, the big commercial sprinkler, mounted on the fence one foot away from us, roared to life with a huge clack and whoosh---and a blast of water right into our horses’ faces.
I jumped a foot. My son yelped in surprise as he got drenched. And the horses? I wouldn’t have blamed them if they’d jumped five feet sideways. It was really quite a shock. But bless their good little hearts—Sunny and Henry threw their heads in the air, they might have snorted and sidled sideways a bit. But neither of them really untracked their feet to speak of as the water suddenly (and loudly) sprayed right at them.
We all stared at the damn sprinklers in disbelief as water shot out at us, too startled to do much of anything but gape and sputter and get soaked. I looked down the arena to where the proprietor leaned lazily on the fence, having just changed the valve to activate the new set of sprinklers. And I saw red.
We finished pushing the cattle into the alley and herding them into the chutes, getting quite wet in the process. I didn’t mind the wet. It was no big deal. Our horses dealt just fine with being “rained” on, after they got over their initial surprise. But when I got done with the cattle I rode up to the proprietor and bawled him out.
Just so you know, that isn’t done at this arena. The proprietor is the boss. Everyone does what he says. No one argues or answers back.
Me, I told him (loudly) that he was an asshole for turning those sprinklers on with no warning while my son and I were right next to them. I pointed out that he could easily have gotten us dumped. I said if my son had been hurt, he, the proprietor, would be dead right now.
The proprietor looked startled. So did everyone else.
“Did your horses spook when I turned on the sprinklers?” he asked innocently.
“You know good and well that its just luck that they didn’t,” I yelled back. “They’re solid horses but any horse would jump at something like that. We might have landed on that metal fence.”
“I don’t mind you dinking around with me,” I added, “and I don’t care about getting wet, but don’t you dare put my kid in danger.”
“I didn’t know you were there,” he protested. “I wasn’t thinking about it. I was just turning the sprinklers on.”
“Well that’s pretty god damn dumb,” I said. “I would hate to think my son or I could have been killed because of your stupidity. Maybe you should learn to think a little.”
At this point the small group of people at the arena is completely silent. I can feel myself running out of momentum. After all, we are OK. Sunny and Henry, chosen by me for their bombproof ways, have protected us from harm—yet again.
But I still feel righteously pissed off. I still can’t believe he thoughtlessly turned that sprinkler on with no warning while my son and I were sitting right next to it on our horses and he expects me to think that’s OK.
“I apologize. I didn’t do it on purpose,” he says. “Don’t be too hard on me.”
Well, leaving aside the fact that this guy never apologizes, I realize I’ve said all there is to be said.
“All right, I forgive you,” I say, “but try to look out for the kids, anyway. Lets not get anybody hurt or killed.” And I ride off, still pretty upset.
My friend, who was gathering cattle with us, but not right next to the sprinkler when it went off, rides up next to me. “I think you over reacted a little,” he says.
I’m still pissed. “How so? He could have got my kid hurt or killed—and for such a stupid reason. All the care I take to keep us safe on horseback—I never could have predicted he’d turn that sprinkler on right then. How can I protect us from that?”
In my mind I know I did protect us from that wreck—by choosing Henry and Sunny. But both horses have spooked before and I totally would not have blamed them if they’d spooked then. I would not have blamed them, but I’d probably have been sitting on the ground, or worse yet, crashing through the metal fence. It simply caught me completely off guard. Normally I’m aware of stuff my horse might spook at and ready to ride the spook. And my son? I don’t like to think about what could have happened.
So here’s my question. Was I right to go off like that? Was that an appropriate response to that situation? Or did I over-react and make an ass of myself, as my friend thinks.
I have been blamed before for my too hasty temper, and I know I am quick to get angry. Maybe I should have been more tolerant?
I have to say that the arena proprietor has endangered people, including children, before, by making thoughtless decisions, and perhaps I’ve just had a belly full of this crap. But, in truth, I am no longer very tolerant of ANYBODY whose foolish, ill considered choices stand to hurt me or my child. I would like to give them all a piece of my mind. There is no part of me that is willing—any more—to condone poor behavior by my silence or wishy washy response. Call me old and cranky, but I’ve had it with being a victim of stupidity—in any sense, at any time. I try to respect others, and I expect—make that demand—respect in return. And by my lights it was totally irresponsible, let alone not respectful, to thoughtlessly turn those sprinklers on without warning when two mounted horsemen were right next to them. Especially when one was a ten year old child. Not thinking is not an excuse. People, you NEED TO THINK. Other people can die or be badly hurt when you don’t think—particularly when horses are involved.
OK, end of rant. Am I just a jerk? What would you have done?
PS—If you would like to win a copy of one of my mystery novels, scroll down to my post titled “Summer Book Giveaway” and enter your name in the comments. I will be drawing first, second and third place winners this Friday, and each winner will get a book.