Stallard

“Did we try riding other animals, or did we just stop when we figured out horses were cool with it?”

I found this deep, thought-provoking query where I find all my other deep, thought-provoking stuff: on social media. Some super-sleuth work on my part led me to a startling discovery.

No, we did not stop with horses. We humans will ride anything with legs.

Face it. We can get a little lazy at times. I’ll hop in my truck for a quarter-mile trip to the store to pick up some milk instead of walking. On some days, I’d probably drive to my mailbox at the end of the driveway. Such is the era of convenience.

But what did people do before we put motors on wheels? We rode stuff, of course.

In the parts of history before taxis and Uber, mankind found a way to avoid walking. Guys probably hopped on their buddies for piggyback rides before attempting to steer a four-legged creature around where he wanted to go. I’m sure there was plenty of experimenting with exactly which beasts of burden wouldn’t turn the tables and decide to ride us instead.

I guess it’s a good thing humans didn’t exist at the same time as dinosaurs. For danged sure we would have wanted to ride a T-Rex. What’s he gonna do with those short arms? Reach around and slap us off his back?

And Bubba would have been the first to ride a triceratops. Forget those brush-guards on the front of a pickup or four-wheel drive kits. Ol’ T-Top was gonna git ’r done.

A little digging on my part unveiled our never-ending search for an easier way to get from Point A to Point B. Way back in 280 B.C. King Pyrrhus of Epirus used elephants he borrowed from another king to attack the Roman army.

Can you imagine being one of the poor slobs in the Roman infantry? You’re expecting to fight another dude man-to-man and bro shows up on a frigging elephant instead? No wonder they wore britches with flaps on the back.

I got to ride an elephant once. It was more like a big, slow roll, but I wasn’t about to yell “Giddyup!” sitting that far off the ground.

In desert regions, people figured out camels would make a pretty sweet ride. They’re not pretty, but they can roll through a desert better than any other animal created. Those big feet are like the massive off-road tires I’ve seen on dune buggies. I rode a camel once, and let me tell you, it ain’t the most comfortable ride. I felt as if I were in my truck sitting on a bag of leftover McDonald’s or something.

Yes, people will ride pretty much anything. In South Africa, people ride ostriches. Seriously? You’re gonna put your life on the line for an extra-large three piece and a biscuit?

They ride reindeer in Finland. Bet that’s great unless you happen to mount Prancer right before takeoff.

I even read where some people ride lions in Argentina. Naw, bro. What do you think’s gonna happen when you finally climb off? They shall dub thee “lunch.”

I see vacation pics from friends who got to ride dolphins. That would be awesome if my mailbox was underwater.

In South Africa, one can ride giraffes. You know you’d want to slide down the neck into the driver’s seat every single time, wouldn’t you? Sure, you would.

Hippos? Sure, why not. In South Africa, if all the giraffes are booked, one can ride a hippopotamus. How’s that for an amphibious assault vehicle? Bubba could do some serious muddin’ on that baby.

Way over in Tibet, folks climb right up on yaks. That’s like a cow with a mullet. They look pretty docile, which is probably why the less courageous among us feel fine with climbing right on.

I’m assuming all the animals mentioned above are tame and willing to support some weirdo sitting on top.

Want a real riding challenge? Try climbing on something that doesn’t want you there.

Man, that’s a whole ’nother level of death-defying acts. Yes, I’ve been dumb enough to try my luck. As a kid, I tried riding a neighbor’s mule and nearly got kicked into my next life. Got dared to ride a bull, and I made it almost six seconds — five of which were because my hand was strapped to the pommel. The crash-landing I made registered on the Richter scale while a few hundred pounds of angry future steak tried to stomp my head. Jumped on a bronc’s back in Arizona and felt as if I were stuck in the tumble setting of a dryer.

I’m an embarrassment as a Texan. I don’t know why, but I’ve never been able to ride horses. Danged things keep falling out from under me. I once tried three times to stay on top of a bucking bronc, only to have it throw me off in about two seconds. I’d have kept trying if I hadn’t run out of quarters and there wasn’t a line of kids waiting behind me to ride the same horse there at Walmart.

April is rodeo month in East Texas. There are few more exciting events in all of sports. Those fearless riders remind us of what it must have been like when we humans were trying to find other modes of transportation all those years ago. There’ll be angry broncs and angrier bulls trying to shake off someone who’s just trying to survive for another eight seconds. Future cowboys and cowgirls will kick-start their courage in the mutton busting competition, riding sheep that might as well be an elephant to those little tykes holding on tight.

The George H. Henderson Jr. Exposition Center will stay packed with fans and all the wonders a rodeo brings.

I hope to see you there.

I’ll be the one lying underneath whatever I was trying to ride.