No I’m not half Comanche but as a Southern Idaho farm kid living next to a million acres of desert and horses to ride I often felt more Comanche than white kid. I’m not sure how old I was when I first leapt from one running horse to another or even where I got the idea but I was 35 the last time I did.
I know the normal way to change horses is to step off of one horse and then step on a fresh one and that works fairly well but it was pretty exhilarating to leap from one running horse to another, especially bareback with nothing more than a halter on the horse.
The secret to success is to have the horse you are leaping to be where he’s suppose to be when you get there; good idea huh? It hurts like hell to hit the ground after missing your horse.
Champ and Smokey where my best combination of horses for such nonsense. I would ride Smokey and leap to Champ; he never failed to be where he was suppose to be when I got there. As they ran he would run neck and neck with Smokey and that’s where I needed him to be for things to work out in my favor.
I know someone out there is calling bull crap and I don’t blame ya but I actually have witnesses.
It always freaked my wife out when I would do it and actually when riding with her and our kids I was better behaved; most of the time. I never had any desire to endanger them or to teach my kids such foolishness. They are all excellent riders and employ good horsemanship and safety when riding or at least as safe as one can be while astride of a 1200 pound animal that has a mind and will of it’s own.
We not only ride for fun and recreation we brand as much as we have invitations to every spring here in Southwest Idaho and Elk hunt every fall and I’m still doing a small amount of day work. I have used our horses guiding Elk hunters on a professional level for various outfitters although it has been several years since I have been employed as a guide. My point is that we use them and they are broke and they know how to work for a living and that makes them better horses.
My last ‘changing horses on a run’ if you will was the summer of 1985 at Thompson Flats in the mountains south and east of Declo Idaho. We were having a family reunion and it was time to pack up and head home. Farming doesn’t allow for an extended vacation in the summer and I was headed to Texas to spray for the rest of the summer as well.
We were pretty much loaded up and just needed to get the horses in a trailer and head home. They were grazing loose dragging their lead ropes. I swung up on Smokey and grabbed Champs lead rope when the ‘crazies’ took over.
I nudged Smokey into a lope and made a circle coming by my audience. As I passed the crowd my horses were picking up speed, they sensed that we were gonna have a little fun. We were clicking along at a gallop, with all eyes on us I leapt from Smokey to Champ. He hit the gas peddle with me bent low over his neck and we disappeared around a small patch of timber.
I slowed him to a trot and went back and gathered up Smokey, loaded horses and went home.
Was it fun? Hell yes.
Was it crazy? Hell yes
Would I do it again tomorrow? Hell yes
At least I would like to but I know that those years are long gone. I ride quite a bit still but I am smart enough to know that the athletic ability to do such craziness has long left me. I’m not at all sorry that I was once able to but I have a huge desire to continue riding and know that busted up at my age comes with a huge price tag.
Am I sorry that I was a bit wild and reckless? Not at all; maybe a bit sorry though that I wasn’t********
The featured photo is my wife sitting on Smokey holding our son Scott; Nathan and Misty are on a company horse. We were on a ranch on the Ruby river just out of Twin Brides Montana at the time of this photo. Smokey was out of an Appaloosa mare and a Rapid Bar, AQHA stud; he had some speed.
Somewhat of a blurred picture but here’s Champ and Smokey; Champ was dark brown. Our 4 oldest kids were all that we had at the time of this picture and they are stacked 2 deep on the horses. Our boys, Nate and Scott on Smokey and our girls Misty and Jessica on Champ. I was somewhat skinnier back then with a little color left in my hair, Joy is taking the picture. This was the fall of 1984.