Wild Rides and Big Dreams
When I read the theme of this years’ parade I thought of the original XIT cowboys. They couldn’t possibly have dreamed that we would celebrate them and their work like this. There are as many kinds of wild rides as there are big dreams, and those cowboys who shivered through winters and sweated out summers on the long and narrow XIT, surely had plenty of both.
My mind fills with images and memories relating to this theme as I imagine is true for most of us, so I began to ask around.
The first person I asked is a fellow barrel racer. This woman is known as a fierce competitor with a serious, no nonsense reputation. I asked her to describe her wildest ride.
“It was my first real barrel race on a competitive horse. I was just a kid and I remember thinking, ‘I can’t believe I can ride something this fast and still be okay. This is how it’s supposed to be.’” When I asked her to describe her wildest dream, she looked me straight in the eye and proceeded to describe her life-long desire to be a famous Flamenco Dancer. “I want the whole deal, the costume that’s unbelievably tight, yet still allows all that shakin’, the castanets, the long black hair all done up with a tall comb and deep red lipstick, the kind that won’t come off on your teeth when you smile. I want people to want to be ME!” she finished with conviction. Still water runs deep.
I asked my husband the same two questions, expecting a horse story, but he surprised me too. “My wildest ride would have to be that roller coaster Allison and I rode down in San Antonio. It was shaped like a corkscrew. We got into the back seat of one car. In front of us was a little old lady about 70 or 80, who was obviously riding with her grandson. That thing took off and our feet dropped out from underneath us. When we flipped upside down I started screaming like a little girl. The kid in front of us was frozen in terror, but that little old lady threw her arms up in the air, giggled and yelled, ‘WEEEEEEEEE!’”
I laughed so hard at this that he wouldn’t share his biggest dream, but I know he shares mine of returning to Texas someday while we still recognize one another.
Granddaughter Luca Bella’s dream was next, having held her hand up throughout the entire coaster story. “I want to be the fastest barrel racer in the world AND I want to dance in one of Michael Jacksons’ videos.” Yes, she knows he is no longer alive, but that doesn’t matter – a dream is a dream and hers certainly ranks as BIG.
Dalhart’s 72nd XIT Queen, Laramie Wing was good enough to weigh in too.
“It was the morning of the infamous XIT Parade. I was more than excited to ride one of my brothers’ miniature horses that he had just broken to ride. I ran out to the barn, after spending what the boys thought was forever to get ready, and caught the white miniature mare.
I jumped on her bareback to ride her up to the barn, because I thought it would save me some time. As soon as I was ready to take off towards the barn, something spooked the mare and she took off running, TOWARDS A BIG TIN FENCE! I didn’t know whether to stay on her or jump off. The closer she came to the fence the more I was thinking I should jump. So, I did.
I landed on a rock and one stuck in my chin. So mom loaded me up, and took me over to Grandpa Troy’s. Troy laid me down on his kitchen counter and gave me a numbing shot and about 12 stitches right on my chin. That’s the XIT I will never forget!”
“My dream is to go to college and get an education. I want to get a job either owning a daycare or being a physical therapist assistant. I want to have a house and a little land to have horses and maybe even a few cattle. I want to have a family and raise them in the country. I want a good life for them. Then when I’m older, I want to retire and travel the world.” That’s my girl, Laramie.
At first I couldn’t decide which one of my many wild rides has been the wildest. As it turns out, I finally chose simply: my life. It’s been a wild ride all the way up to today and I haven’t always had my seatbelt on – by choice. As for my dreams – they’re endless, but representing the Texan in the parade this Saturday will count. You see, I’ve ridden in that parade before with daughters Allison and Abbie when they were in junior high, making memories, but this year I get to watch it all unfold through the eyes of my seven-year-old granddaughter, Luca Bella, who will be riding with me.
Let’s just hope it doesn’t also fall into the “wild ride” category.