ARCHER COUNTY, TEXAS 1955 – In the 1950s in North Texas, barrel racing was primarily a rodeo event. Young women like my best friend Ann and me had to travel to area rodeos to do our thing with our barrel horses, except for an occasional jackpot thrown in at a jackpot calf roping, which were numerous in our area of ranching country.
We were going to travel to such an event, Ann hauling her mare Taffy in her pickup truck with sideboards, and my mare Jiggs traveling in my new four-year-old pickup with sideboards. Few people used trailers in those days and Ann and I were fortunate to have Dads who provided us with transportation. Our horses willingly jumped up into the beds of the trucks.
We lived in the country about 2 miles from one another, so we met on a back road to travel ‘cross country’ to the roping arena on a nearby ranch.
Jiggs and Taffy were used to one another, as Ann and I rode together regularly in our area; we hauled to the same events, caravanning.
Off we went, Ann leading the way, and Jiggs nickering from to Taffy.
A few miles into our trip, Jiggs began rearing and nickering every more loudly, with Taffy calling back to her.
I had tied Jiggs’ halter rope to the frame of my sideboards, plus a non slip neck rope also tied to the frame, to keep her facing forward in the narrow pickup bed. My sideboards were a steel pipe frame with an extra floor, sitting in the bed of the truck.
Jiggs’ rearing became more agitated, and suddenly she reared and jumped forward as far as the ropes would allow, landing with a crash onto the top of the pickup cab. Her left foot broke through the windshield onto the dash in front of me.
Panic stricken I honked the horn, stopped the truck and jumped out and onto the side of the pickup bed, trying to quiet Jiggs, who was now sitting chest and belly on the cab roof, restrained from going any further by the ropes.
Ann had stopped, and immediately came running back to my aid.
We urged Jiggs to back off the cab, but every time she tried, her front leg would go between the steel frame and the truck cab. She seemed permanently stuck and we were desperate.
This was a dirt country road with little traffic, and during our ordeal not one vehicle came by.
Ann and I climbed onto the roof of the truck and kept trying to help Jiggs get back into the bed, lifting her legs and struggling, but it didn’t work, she kept hanging up between the sideboard frames and the cab.
We cut the ropes to give her more freedom, and with adrenaline pumping Ann grabbed one front leg and I grabbed the other and together we heaved Jiggs up and over the frames and into the bed of the truck.
Shaking with exhaustion and hearts still pounding, we sat on the cab for a few minutes with Jiggs looking at us with an innocent expression in her eyes. She didn’t seem very upset.
Well, we were over halfway to our destination, and figured we didn’t have anything to lose by going on and checking to see if Jiggs had learned to stay on all fours, so we started our trucks and proceeded slowly.
We arrived at the ranch arena without any further problems, but once there cowboys flocked around my beat up truck to see what in the world had happened.
Jiggs’ weight had caved the cab in considerably from the top, the windshield had a hole and was shattered, and the right passenger door was caved in with a broken window from Jiggs right leg failing during the height of the episode.
Ann won the barrel race. I was second.
When we returned home I had to explain to my parents that I had not rolled the truck, but that my horse had decided to ride on top.
Being the ever-patient soul that he was, Daddy had the truck repaired, and had an extension put on the front with a canvas cover where the horse’s head would ride on future trips.
By the way, Jiggs and I were partners for another 20 years until her death. Her great granddaughter LYNX is part of our today’s family.
My truck after its repair and
remodel, at the
Jiggs and me,
Jiggs’ great granddaughter Lynx, 2007