Seeing photos of Rick on a horse down in Mexico is extremely inconsistent with all his previous equestrian adventures. Horses and Mr. Baker never did get along too well historically, and here are a couple of reasons why.
The first encounters I remember were all out at the Woodland Trails Scout Reservation in Camden Ohio. This was a 1200 acre spread about an hour west of Dayton. It is where summer camps for the whole scout council were held and it had all the usual activities like archery, rifle range, swimming, canoeing at the lake and a horse ranch.
The horse ranch was situated well out on the southwest edge of the reservation and we always had at least one chuck wagon event where most of the troop would all go ride horses on a trail out to an old chuck wagon where a cowboy style dinner of chuck wagon stew, biscuits and cobbler would be served up.
There were also opportunities for additional rides during the day if you and a few friends signed up for them.
When you arrived at the horse barn each boy got to choose their own mount…some with more trepidation than others. Most of the younger boys were afraid of the biggest horses so, being the Senior Patrol Leader, there was an expectation that I would take the biggest or meanest horses. Now, I wasn’t a super enthusiastic horse dude or anything, but it was kind of fun to act like a cowboy for a few hours and it was different than the other camp activities.
These horses all knew the game very well, having been on dozens and dozens of these rides every summer. I’m sure they were chosen for the camp because they were calm, cool, collected and able to follow the horse in front of them without much help from whomever was in the saddle. There wasn’t an actual mean horse in the mix, maybe a nipper or two… but there were a few large hombres.
The ride that stands out was one where I had a horse named “Big John”. He was, of course, the biggest beast in the barn and all the boys had a good time encouraging me to pick him or I would be a big wuss, so it was my destiny to have Big J.
We all mounted-up and began wandering down the trail behind our wrangler with the usual fits and starts of a bunch of city kids that don’t know how to control a horse, but again, most of the horses knew what they were supposed to do so no big deal right?
Along the way all the boys started giving me a load of shit…namely because Big John had gotten excited about something and had an erection as long as my arm. I thought he was named because he was just a large horse, but the size of his horse-wood may have been the deciding factor.
Rick was right in front of me and as we approached a small tree that had fallen across the horse trail he started laughing and yelling that I better grab ole Big John’s dong and lift it up before it whacked the log. This small tree was not a major obstacle on the trail and the other horses just stepped over it with no problem.
But, as predicted by Rick, as Big John stepped over the log he did in fact whack his wood on the wood and that was enough to set him off flying down the trail. I pretty much just tried to hold on with everything I had as I had never actually been on a running horse before. As Big John came up beside Rick’s horse, it was startled and took off running as well.
So now both of us are flying down the trail, trying to hang on to the spooked horses for all we were worth. We were bouncing all over the place, getting beat in the face with branches as the horses went off-trail around the other horses in the line. We were holding onto the saddle horns, mane or anything else we could grab as we quickly forgot all about the reins.
Even with my own troubles, glancing over at Rick with the sight of him swinging from side to side and up and down with the look of panic in his eyes got me laughing so hard I nearly fell off. You would have thought he was on a champion bucking bronc at the rodeo.
We probably only went a couple hundred yards down the trail before the wrangler caught up to us and got them calmed down, but it felt like we had just done the Omak Suicide run and Rick swore horses off for life.
The next time I remember Rick getting on a horse was during the early 80’s out at Ocean Shores in Washington. His girlfriend at the time, Marta, enjoyed riding and talked him into renting some horses to ride along the ocean beach. Sounds mellow and romantic right? Not if you have Ricky Dean’s mad horse skills!
Now, Rick being Rick (and not being a Boy Scout anymore), he had stashed a few beers and his trusty bottle of whiskey in a rucksack to quench his thirst during the ride.
The ride started out slow and easy enough, but the pace picked up a bit when Rick’s horse tried to keep up with Marta’s. This got the bottles clinking together, causing the horse to run even faster, which made the bottles clank even louder, and soon it was galloping at full speed with the bottles crashing and bashing together until the beer bottles were a foamy mess.
I am very impressed that Rick stayed on the horse…they went like that for quite a ways down the beach and there was no wrangler this time. Alas, the bottles in the ruck sack did not fare too well and the pack was full of broken glass and the tepid beer had foamed to the point of oozing out the seams of the pack.
And so that was the last time he got on a horse for decades…eternally pissed that a horse had wasted his perfectly good alcohol. Then necessity transformed him into El Tehano of the Mexican jungle, riding off into the sunset, with steely gaze and chapped ass.