Listening To Instructions Will Help You Avoid the Devil Stick

by Kevin on March 17, 2011

I didn’t need a lot of instructions. All you have to do is take a long handled wooden mallet and swing it from the back of a horse and hit a Wal-Mart bouncy ball. Not to brag, but I’m a pretty good rider and this seemed as easy a task as I had ever been given. You know, things aren’t always as easy as they seem.

Part of my job on the San Pedro Ranch was to help train polo horses. We would move cattle on them in the mornings and then train in the polo arena in the afternoon. I was always a little bit afraid of gatherin’ cattle in the South Texas brush on a $30,000 polo horse, but once they get used to mesquite limbs slappin’ them in the face, that polo stick wasn’t nothing. At least it wasn’t nothin’ until I got a hold of it the first time.

Antonio tried to show me the correct way to hold the mallet. I was polite, but inside I was rollin’ my spiritual eyes at him. How hard could it be? I don’t even remember half of what he said.

I finally just got on my horse and grabbed the mallet and went into the arena. Sittin’ out there all by itself was one of those Wal-Mart bouncy balls. It was about the size of a volleyball and I walked my horse over to it and gave the mallet a swing.  All I had to do was just hit the bouncy ball with the long stick.

On that first swing, I think I dislocated my shoulder when I smacked the ground about a foot behind that ball. When the mallet head struck the ground, the handle shot forward and caught me right on the side of the knee.

The blow to my knee caused the lower part of my right leg, the part containing a spur, to involuntarily tense up and kick the young horse. The horse shot forward in a wild run. He must have thought he’d been stabbed by Freddie Krueger I kicked him so hard.

I was thankful for just a second that the polo mallet, heretofore referred to as the devil stick, was attached to my wrist by a leather strap. When I went to pull up on the reins with both hands, the dangling devil stick was struck by a front hoof and sent arcing counter-clockwise over my head and it’s trajectory carried it to the wrong side of my body.

Take your right arm and place it behind your head and have someone hand you a vacuum cleaner. Now get on a green broke horse and have it run away with you. Now you have the mental picture of my perilous predicament.

When I pulled my arm back down, the handle that I had come to despise tried to enter my left ear. It was prevented from doing so only by the rocks in my head. My shoulders then became a fulcrum point to send the business end of the devil stick up and over, and then down at mach speed underneath the horse.

By this point, my knee is killing me, I can’t feel my right arm, and I had cause to believe that my head no longer contained a left ear. To make matters worse, I found out that this particular horse didn’t cotton to a big stick right between his back legs.

The horse pitched and I was sent flyin’. Luckily for me, I still had a hold of the devil stick. Or, more to the point, it had a hold of me. That stupid stick hit me everywhere except the bottom of my boot durin’ our trans-atlantic buck off. I landed on it four times before I ever hit the ground.

When the dust settled and my breath returned, I opened up my eyes and saw the most horrifyin’ sight I’ve ever seen. Still sittin’ there in the middle of the arena was that stupid Wal-Mart ball–in the same spot it had been when I rode into the arena.

I returned back to Antonio and he spent the next hour teachin’ me–and this time, I listened and obeyed what he had to say.

Deuteronomy 30:2-3

and when you and your children return to the LORD your God and obey him with all your heart and with all your soul according to everything I command you today, then the LORD your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you.


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  • Don Coyote

    Hahahahahahaha, glad I finished my coffee an hour ago.

    • Kevin

      BLASPHEMY!!! Cowboys never finish coffee, but you can take a break between pots while you go to the pot.

      • Don Coyote

        That’s what I meant ta say, hadda go shave.

        Glad I did THAT before readin’ this or I’d a cut my throat from laffin’ so hard.

  • I love your writing Kevin – and the lessons you always see in your daily life. God give me big ears to hear. And a heart to obey.

    • Kevin

      Thank You!!!

  • Pats

    I was sittin here laughing so hard. I could just see all those things happening. Both the dogs looking at me like I lost my mind. I’m sure you won’t remember me. We went to a class together;With your dad at the same time. 17 year ago this June. I recently retired from that TDCJ group. I am sure glad to know you went on to better things. I’ll be buying your book in the near future.

    • Kevin

      I think I remember everyone from that group, but the email and “pats” doesn’t ring a bell. Use the contact form and let me know who you are.

  • HA! I resemble that Wreck!

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