Duke and My Baby Boy Barrel Racing
Duke was a quarter horse, thoroughbred, bay in colour and my rock. We had a wonderful 21 years together and he was always there through good times and bad. No matter what was going on in my life, Duke was my constant.
As much as I loved him, he could be very unpredictable. I once went on a trail ride with a friend and he was completely calm and fine for the first hour and a half and then all of a sudden, he started bucking. Not sure what triggered it but every time it happened that’s what I’d say, don’t know what triggered that. He was also flighty, I used to say, he was scared of his own shadow. If the wind blew in the trees just right or he didn’t like a rock that he saw on the trail, he’d spook. A grouse on the trail would just about send him into orbit. As he aged though he calmed down somewhat. In fact, by age fourteen or so, my kids were actually able to ride him.
For the most part he was pretty good with the kids but one Gymkhana things went a little sideways. Brandon was about five years old and a pretty good rider by then so we entered him in barrel racing at a local Gymkhana. I led him into the arena and stood along the rails between second and third barrel. Things went well, Brandon trotted Duke up to the first barrel, turned it nicely and headed for second. The whole time Duke kept his eye on me and I swear his eyes were asking, how am I doing? After the first barrel they headed for second at a nice easy trot, everything was going perfect, the crowd was yelling with excitement. He rounded third and the crowd went wild yelling, kick him, take him home Brandon and that’s when it all happened. Brandon’s legs which barely came over Dukes back, came straight out the side, as if he was doing the splits and just as quick came crashing down against Dukes sides. I guess it shocked Duke because he let out a buck before anyone could do anything. The next thing I knew Brandon was laying on the ground and Duke was standing there looking at him. He just stood there looking at Brandon, then me, then Brandon. If he could have talked, I swear he would have said, “Did I do that?!?!”