You Have to Choose to Be Brave

by Kevin on November 4, 2014

It was one of those days that a dad will remember for the rest of his life. I thought it would be remembered as the first time my son and I rode together in Colorado, but it turned out to be much more than that.

My son wanted to pick up the pace a little bit. A nine year old doesn’t like to just plod along and look at the pretty scenery. I nodded and remembered my time as a youth and the need for a quicker pace than life sometimes had to offer.

I kicked my horse into a trot and heard my son smooch to his mount in encouragement. The next thing I heard sent shivers down my spine.

A cowboy can hear a horse bucking…better yet, he can feel it through the ground. I didn’t have to look back to know what was happening.

I turned back before the second jump had finished and saw my son hanging on like a champ. This was the first time a horse had ever really pitched with him. Oh sure, he’d had a couple of crow hops and boogers, but never an all out assault like he was experiencing now.

I hollered encouragement and turned back to offer aid. I placed my horse right in the line of fire and used my daddy voice on the ornery maggot that was trying to throw my son.

Thankfully it worked.

As we sat there, every man and animal breathing hard, I could see that he was scared. I put a reassuring hand on his shoulder and asked if he was ok. He took a deep breath and said that he was, but that he would like to get off now.

And there it was…that pivotal moment that any young cowboy or cowgirl goes through. Shoot, there are many grown-ups that haven’t made it through this situation…and I’m not talking about bucking horses. I’m talking about giving into fear.

I said, “Son, the choice is yours. I won’t make you do anything. But we need to walk around this water lot one time.”

He was already shaking his head no.

I continued, “If we don’t keep going, then you will teach this horse that all he has to do is buck with you and you’ll get off. But more than that, you need to keep going for yourself. I know you might not understand, but one day you will. We will take it slow and I will be right here beside you. I won’t let anything happen to you.”

I sat there and waited.

Finally, he said, “Let’s go.”

We ended up going around three more times; by his choosing I might add.

When we unsaddled, he made the comment that maybe we shouldn’t tell mom about what happened. He reiterated that she would be scared for him and be worried the next time he rode.

I agreed and we decided to keep it between us boys.

We could smell supper cooking as we walked in the house and began taking our boots off. The jingling of our spurs had not subsided when my wife walked out of the kitchen to welcome her cowboys home.

That’s when my son said, “Mom! My horse tried to buck me off and I rode him. He bogged his head was kicking straight up over his head and I stayed on!”

Like any good mom, my wife made a HUGE deal about how scary that must have been and how proud she was of him.

I looked at him and said, “I thought we were going to keep that between us?”

He shrugged his shoulders and said, “A good cowboy story has to be told, Dad.”

Later, she asked me, “Did you make him stay on after it was over?”

I said, “Nope. That choice can’t be made by anyone else. A man has to choose to be brave…even if he’s just a boy.”

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

© Kevin Weatherby 2014

choose to be brave

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A big thanks to Rockin K Bar Photography for the use of their photo for the background of the quote.

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