He was one hell of a cowboy - larger than life - but we can't overlook the woman who tamed him, Old #5.
As Bill mentioned in his Bucky post, Bucky had a rather cavalier attitude toward women when he arrived in Colorado. He'd been married four times and wasn't really looking for #5. He came off as quite a charming cad, so when he started dating the future Mrs. Bucky, who we all loved we knew we had to get a message across.
One of the wranglers (I'm fairly certain it was Ginger) had come up with the nickname "LeBloncheck" for her. Bucky, being footloose and fancy free, was chatting up a couple of women before he started bringing the future Mrs. Bucky around. We liked her. She was sweet and hard working, and even if we couldn't remember her name right off the bat (hence the nickname "LaBloncheck" (the blond chick)), we all took to her. And we knew Bucky's reputation. There was no way we were going to let him break the future Mrs. Bucky's heart that summer, so when things started to look serious (and Bucky had left the other ladies in the dust), we talked Beel into setting Bucky straight.
Beel called the Livery one afternoon, pretending to be her dad, and demanded to speak to Bucky. Now, by this time we knew the future Mrs. Bucky by name and adored her, we didn't actually know her last name, so we had Beel fake it. When Bucky got to the phone, Bill identified himself as "Mr. LaBloncheck" and demanded to know what Bucky's intentions were with his daughter. Bill did such a great job of putting Bucky on the defensive that he didn't even recognize Bill's voice at first. Bucky sputtered and stammered for a few minutes before Bill's laughing gave him away.
We all had a good laugh at the joke and Bucky played a long, but he was ... quieter ... than usual. About an hour later, he walked out of the office into the livery yard and exclaimed, "Cervantes!" We looked at him, confused, until he explained that he knew her last name was Cervantes, not LaBloncheck. He was much relieved to remember her last name and resumed being his normal, boisterous self.
The thing is, Mrs. Bucky is a badass. She had to be to put up with that man. I suspect wives #1-4 were expecting more of Bucky than he was willing to give. Old #5, well, he met his match with her - she took none of his shit - and he adored her for it. As Bill said, she stuck around longer than his first four wives combined.
There's a saying, "behind every successful man is a woman", and that certainly seemed to be the case with Bucky and Mrs. Bucky. She kept their life and business straight. While Bucky was the gregarious front of the business, whom everyone remembers, Mrs. Bucky was quietly working to keep everything on track. She worked circles around Bucky (and most others, actually). One season, while Bucky was managing the livery in Estes, she was our Barn Boss and she was excellent. I loved working for a boss who could do everything she asked her employees to do; there was no "I'm the boss" attitude from her. Yes, she was our boss, but we all respected her because she was fair and pulled her own weight. She spoiled me for all other Barn Bosses, which made the one that followed her even more difficult to deal with. (He was quite the asshat - so much so that Mom and Bill had him fired and run off the property one night, but that's a whole different story.)
She meets every challenge head-on and gets things done. There's this innate confidence about her that is very empowering to those around her. You meet Mrs. Bucky and you know that this is a woman who will figure it out. There is no hand-wringing in her life. There is shit that needs to be done and she's going to get it done.
Mrs. Bucky was here just a couple of weeks ago and as I watched her unhitch her trailer at my place, using a monkey wrench because her hitch motor had gone out, it dawned on me exactly how much of a badass she is. This is a woman, who just six weeks earlier had lost her husband to cancer after caring for him by herself for four months, and who has a 15 year-old son to care for, along with her ranch ... this woman, who has every reason in the world to be curled up in a fetal position sobbing, was standing in front of me taking care of business. Shit needed to be done, so she was doing it. The motor went out and instead of feeling sorry for herself, she figured out a way to do what needed to be done.
As is becoming usual, this post is out of order. If you'd like a synopsis of how Skeeter's mountain training is going, hop on over to my parents' blog. I'll eventually get around to writing up each of our rides on the mountain, but the birthday ride is important - not because it was a spectacular ride, but because I'm now able to continue the tradition I started with Estes so many years ago.
Just for review, here's a video of our 2016 birthday ride. It was a difficult ride for me, because I lost a lot of confidence when Pearl pitched me off. However, I sucked it up and climbed up on Skeets for about five minutes.
She and I have had a few more successful rides since then. As much as I love her, I am still struggling with confidence, though she's never given me any reason to believe she would dump me. So since my birthday ride 2016, we might have had 10 in the past year. I'm kind of ashamed of that low number, but it's changing. Each ride is better than the last and I'm finding my confidence again.
Skeets on the ground and Skeets under saddle are two completely different horses. On the ground, she's still quite a pushy bitch who forgets to stay out of humans' spaces. However, under saddle, not much bothers her. She's like riding an old plow horse.
I had hoped to ride up in the forest for my birthday ride, but there were several factors that kept us from doing that, so we just took a ride around town with Bill and Ranger. Jay was kind enough to trail along with the camera (I decided it was too boring in town to justify wearing the GoPro).
She's only recently been allowed back at the rail, instead of being tied at the truck.
Ranger is so patient with the young whippersnapper.
Finally, we're off.
Right before we got stuck. I'm tired of getting stuck.
Yep. You guessed it, stuck.
Finally on the move again.
Skeeter will probably be coming home in the next week or so, and I need to make a real effort to keep up riding her. Surprisingly, we're both far more comfortable up on the mountain than down here on the flat. Go figure.
Mom and Bill are going to focus on Alloy for a while, and then take Pearl up in the fall to start her mountain training.
Maybe for next year's birthday ride, we can make it back up to the forest and maybe visit my favorite pond.