If you look closely at my hands, especially when they’re tan, you’ll see a smattering of slightly raised scars. I have some on my thighs too, however those rarely see the light of day. The scars I still have are from wounds inflicted on a fateful day when I was only 11 years old.
Burke, Virginia was quite rural when I was 11. There was a horse corral about a quarter mile through the woods in which several horses and ponies were boarded. The kids in the neighborhood visited them often, and no one ever saw any owner or caretaker.
Given kids will be kids, we would try to ride them bareback with no reins. There was a strawberry blond pony named Kennedy that would let you mount him, but he would never move. He seemed immune to all prodding and coaxing. Then someone, I don’t remember who, got a bright idea; how about putting a carrot on a stick and seeing if that gets him to move.
We found a long, relatively straight stick. Someone mustered up a piece of rope, and someone ran to get a carrot from their home refrigerator. With all the pieces acquired, the carrot on the stick was assembled.
I’m not sure how I ended up being the one nominated to execute our experiment. I mounted Kennedy, who like always, just stood there. Someone handed me the carrot on a stick, and I gingerly held it out so the carrot was about 12 inches in front of his nose. I’ve never seen a pony get that mad, not before and not since.
Kennedy took off at a full gallop, which made me grab on to his mane for dear life. He tried to knock me off by running under low tree branches, but I ducked. He finally managed to throw me off by making a 90 degree turn at a full gallop. I landed on the barb wire fence, which inflicted the injuries that created the scars I bear to this day.
Kennedy 1, Brutal Barb 0.