Wooly Mammoths Cause Memory Loss

by Jake Hershey on September 16, 2012

I’ve done some pretty dumb things in my life.  Especially in my youth….and my youth might have lasted longer than yours.  When I was 22 years old I qualified for some kind of college rodeo regional finals thing they had….I don’t remember the name of it, but I do remember it was in Enid, Oklahoma.  As rodeo guys tend to do, I had driven to somewhere in Missouri where I dropped off my vehicle and got in the van with a bunch of bull riders who I rode with the rest of the way.  I don’t remember much after that for the next few days for several reasons.   But here are the highlights.

CAUTION:  The following retelling of actual events may cause some “holier than thou” type folks to be offended.  If you’re one of them, tough.  Stop reading now and you might be able to sleep tonight.

Okay, the highlights.  I don’t know how many days we were there total, but here’s what I do know.  I know it was two rounds and paid each round and an average on two head.  I know I got on my first saddle bronc horse and made a good ride but missed him out, so I didn’t get a score.  I know that meant I was out of the average and that I had to place in the average to qualify for the College National Finals Rodeo that year.  I remember that upset me.  I remember watching another round of bronc riding and seeing a HUGE horse go.  Besides being huge, he was an eliminator type bucker and drilled the guy that got on him the first jump out of the chute.  I remember telling one of my buddies, “Just watch, I’ll draw that freakin’ eliminatin’ wooly mammoth lookin’ sucker for my second horse.

Now, the reason my memory is spotty on this particular outing is twofold.  For one thing at that point in my life if I wasn’t gettin’ on a bronc, driving or working, I was probably drinking.  And not Kool-Aid.  Unless it had vodka mixed with it.  You get my point.  If you don’t, I warned you to stop reading two paragraphs ago.  This is your last chance.

So I’ve gotten on my first horse, I’m out of the average, pretty much been drinking since that point and I know there’s a double rank wooly mammoth in the draw for the second round.  But I do remember watchin’ the wooly mammoth buck.  The next thing I remember is being at the hotel with a good buddy of mine after we shut the bar down and drank way more than our share of the spirits they so generously offered for purchase.  This guy and I had a lot of fun partying together, but one thing we didn’t have in common was he smoked pot and I didn’t.  Well, I had only done it twice….that’s almost like not doing it, right?  So we’re hammered and long story short I remember going out to his car with him and smoking a lot of it.

The next thing I remember is someone waking me up.  I was in the the hotel room.  They told me the rodeo had already started and I was up in the bronc riding…..this could be a problem.  Seems that I had forgotten or didn’t really care that I was out in the early afternoon performance that day and I imagine I didn’t pass out until about sunrise.  The next thing I remember is being behind the chutes and asking what I’d drawn.  I’ll bet you can guess.  The wooly mammoth.  I remember 3 more things after that until about two days later.  I remember laughing at my draw, as the substances from a few hours before hadn’t completely worn off.  I remember the wooly mammoth was so big that we couldn’t put my bronc saddle on it until it was in the chute that it was going to leave from because it wouldn’t fit through the alley or chutes with a saddle on its back.  And I remember shaking my face as I sat on its back with my feet in the stirrups and the rein in my hand.  Apparently, shaking my face was the last of many mistakes I had made those last few days.  Because when I did, they opened the chute gate and let the wooly mammoth out with me on its back and a flank strap being pulled tight to make sure it would really buck.  The next thing I remember is being home two days later.

Apparently, I made it farther than the first guy.  All the way to the concrete wall of the indoor stadium arena, anyway.  And that’s where I took flight.  What stopped the flight was my head hitting that concrete wall.  I think it knocked me out, I don’t remember.  My coach was a large man and told me could have fit his entire fist in the gash in my head.  Another friend who was at the other end of the arena threw up at the sound of my head connecting with the wall.  Oh yeah…and my heart stopped beating.  They had to resuscitate me in the arena.  I’m told they took me to the hospital, stapled my head shut and ran a bunch of tests, but I checked myself out.  I rode back to Missouri with someone, got in my vehicle and drove about 3.5 hours home.  I don’t remember any of that.  My next memory is waking up in my bed and wondering how I got there, what day it was, etc.

I’m not proud of any of this story other than the fact that it shows God’s mercy and grace in that He chose to spare my life.  Why did it happen?  Two reasons.  Because of the choices I had made and because God wasn’t done with me yet.  I don’t know if I could have rode that horse sober or not.  But I do know I wish I could remember that weekend.  I wish I could remember a lot of things I’ve done.  Or maybe I don’t.  I wish I wasn’t almost 34 years old and after riding a horse for a few hours I can’t walk without a limp because I’ve been so hard on my body.  But whose fault is that?  Mine.  I have no regrets and neither should you.  If you’re reading this, that means you’re alive and if you’re alive that means God ain’t done with you yet.  But don’t waste what God’s given you.  Think about the choices you make in every situation on a daily basis.  If you make poor choices and bad things happen, don’t be surprised.  But don’t beat yourself up too bad, either.  You and I are still here and that means God ain’t done with us yet.  The thing to do is figure out what God’s plan is for your life….find God, tell him you’ve screwed up and decide to follow Him.  None of us are perfect.  But we ain’t dummies, either.  Use the brain and everything else God gave ya.  Ask God what to do in every situation.  If you screw up, don’t be surprised when bad things happen.  But know this:  You’re still here and that means God ain’t done with you yet.  What does He have planned for you?  Why don’t you ask Him?  Honestly try to live like He designed you to and I bet you’ll figure it out.  Oh yeah….I wouldn’t recommend gettin’ on any wooly mammoths along the way.

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.  Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.  Galatians 6:7-8


Jake Hershey 9/16/12

Print Friendly

  • Gail Davis

    This one hit too close to home. I’m nothing like I need to be, but THANK GOD I’m a long way from what I used to be.

  • Gary Hooper

    Loved the article. Question. Did anyone ever ride the wooly mammoth?
    I remember having an all night bender in 1983. Apparently I rode my horse through the bar. I was sick for 3 weeks and to this day 29 years later still do not remember what I did that night.

    Thank goodness I didn’t have too many nights like that. I was running the family hereford cattle property in Tamworth, NSW, Australia and also working for the local newspaper. As well as being involved in the local country music scene (Tamworth is the Nashville of Australia) and working shutes at the rodeos. So I was a busy boy with lots of drinking buddies.
    I gave my life to the Lord in 1985. Now have left the farm (ranch), moved to the USA and about to start a cowboy church in Southern Illinois. God certainly has a sense of humor.

  • Jake

    Gail, amen. I’m right there with you. Gary, I don’t know what ever happened to that horse. I don’t remember his name or brand or much else period about those few days. If it was about 10 years later than 1983 I’d have said there was a good chance I saw you ride that horse into the bar, I’ve seen it done a time or two. Good luck and God bless what you’re doing here in the good ol’ U.S.A.

  • Jake

    Make that twenty years Gary lol.

Previous post:

Next post: