I collect belt buckles. I buy them at yard sales, on ebay, and have been given them as gifts. My favorite is from the West Bay Sanitation District celebrating their 95th anniversary.
I have always wanted to win a belt buckle. I would rather wear a belt buckle I won than wear a belt buckle I bought on ebay. I won a 10 speed bike in high school in a raffle. I couldn’t put my bike on a belt, and the contest was based on odds not on skill, so the bike doesn’t count as a win.
I was Market Goat Leader for Felton 4-H in Santa Cruz County, California for the last two years we lived there. I was going to raise a carcass goat for the Santa Cruz County Fair Carcass Goat Contest. The goats entered in the contest would be judged in the ring and on the rack for a monetary prize and a belt buckle. My older daughter had entered the carcass contest the year before and came in second. I was going to enter the carcass contest the next county fair, but we were moving to Pennsylvania and I wouldn’t have a chance to raise a goat. If I didn’t win the belt buckle, I would still get to eat my goat.
My friend Rebekah in California is a gymkhana horse rider. She runs District 9 in Boulder Creek California, The Redwood Riders. She has won several saddles and belt buckles competing in barrels, single stake, quadrangle, speedball, figure 8 flags and keyhole. She is so brave. She rides a horse that is moving fast. She is high in the air, on an animal. I wouldn’t be winning a belt buckle in any gymkhana events, as my favorite event would be standing still, my speed, neutral.
When I first met Rebekah I told her I wanted to learn how to ride a horse. She often went riding in the hills early in the morning. I told her I was a little nervous to ride but I asked her if she would take me riding with her one morning. I wanted to be brave. I wanted to try.
One morning as I looked out my kitchen window I saw Rebekah ride into my backyard on Bear Creek Road in Boulder Creek, with two saddled horses. It was a little after 7 in the morning. I was up early about to work on the fence I was building. Why does she have two horses? I wonder who she is going to go riding with?
The second horse was for me.
I put on a pair of black leather cowboy boots she brought for me to wear and a helmet, and got on her horse Jesse James. A big boy. 28 hands high? Okay, 16 hands. But I was far away from the gravel driveway. I was up in the air on an animal. Oh no, the horse moved. Oh dear, what have I done? Why did I say anything to Rebekah? Now I am on a horse and it is moving!
“I didn’t tell you I was coming, so you didn’t have time to be scared” Rebekah said.
We rode out of the yard onto Bear Creek Road, and then crossed the road and turned up Hopkins Gulch Road. Heading for the hills. We rode our horses. Or I should say we walked our horses, up a steep one lane road. To my left the road , to my right a steep drop off. I could almost touch the top of the redwood trees growing ten thousand miles down the side of the mountain. We could hear a large vehicle gear down as it came down the hill towards us. I was following Rebekah’s horse. She said, “Do not look at the truck. Just look straight ahead. The horse can tell if you get nervous.”
I listened to what she said. And then at the last-minute I ignored her advice,as the truck was beside me, I turned and looked at the truck for one little teeny tiny second and instantly my horse side-stepped. Rebekah said, “You looked at the truck!”
The bad think about going up a mountain, is that you have to go down the mountain to get home. I did not like the idea of sitting on top of a horse when I felt like I was falling forward. I was completly ready to dismount and walk down the hill in my black leather boots and lead Jesse James. I think the horse would like me to lead him down the hill. I’ll bet I am really heavy and the poor horse would like a rest. Rebekah gave me instructions to brace the heel of my boots in the stirrup and lean back. It worked. I didn’t fall forward off of the horse. I actually stayed on the horse the whole ride and didn’t die. I felt brave and strong and daring. I rode a horse. I was alive. I had survived.
Several day before I left California for Pennsylvania. Rebekah took me out to dinner. She put a large square blue velvet box on the table, and said, ” I know you are leaving and won’t have a chance to win a belt buckle before you leave California. I wanted to give you the belt buckle I won recently at a Gymkhana event. In the blue box was a silver and gold belt buckle for High Point in the Double A division of the Redwood Riders.
I wear my belt buckle with pride. I didn’t really win high point in the Double A division. I won’t lie if anyone asks me if I really won the belt buckle. I will tell them I rode a horse up a mountain and down the other side. I will tell them the buckle is a gift from my friend Rebakah who won the buckle. And that is one thing you can not buy on ebay, a gift from a friend.