Ranch Views From A Town Girl: Horse Crazy

Front-left, Cathy and Jack performing at Cheyenne Frontier Days, 1993. Photo courtesy of Cathy Worthington Moen.

Cathy Worthington Moen

Horses are what led me down the path to finding my rancher husband. I’ve loved horses since I was old enough to know what they were. As a toddler, I wore out two sets of springs on a toy jumping horse. Mom had me on a strict hotdog diet because it was easier than prying a screaming two-year-old off her horse at mealtimes. Every year I asked Santa for a horse. That is, until second grade when a bully on the playground told me Santa wasn’t real. That was the day the music died and I found out my parents were liars. They used the excuse a horse wouldn’t fit in Santa’s sleigh. There never was a sleigh! I also had to assume there wasn’t an Easter Bunny, which had always been met with skepticism anyway. Flying reindeer? Absolutely! A rabbit that pooped jellybeans and liked bad chocolate? Not!

I never gave up on my dream of owning a horse, but in the meantime, I had access to horses through relatives and friends. I carefully chose my girlfriends and boyfriends based on whether they had horses or cars or both as I couldn’t afford either. I even dropped out of college to marry a guy who had lots of horses, but not a lot of foresight. He decided reality and a wife were getting in the way of his plans and I decided I wasn’t that desperate for a horse. I found a new place to live with roommates who were much more grounded, and they even had horses. I eventually re-enrolled in college and finished my degree despite the temporary setback. My parents gave me a saddle as a graduation gift, but I was really hoping for a horse.

The first horse Cathy loved, circa 1960. Photo courtesy of Cathy Worthington Moen.

I married my college tutor, aka, boyfriend a week after graduating. He wasn’t into horses, but he was the reason I had a degree, so I owed him. We both found good jobs so I could finally afford a horse of my own. I found a sweet little red gelding through a family friend and named him “Jack.” Oh, how I loved that horse! My relationship with Jack lasted longer than the marriage with my tutor, however, the union gave me a beautiful daughter. I moved on as a single mom with a preschooler, Jack, and a dog to support. It was a struggle at times, but I managed to keep everyone alive.

There actually came a point when I thought about selling Jack as I couldn’t justify the expense anymore. Then friends told me about an equestrian drill team looking for new riders and suggested I try out. I took their suggestion and made the team. Now I had a good reason to be horse broke. It was through the drill team that I was introduced to team roping and my next husband. Our coach was a team roper and held jackpots in his arena. The drill team earned travel money at the jackpots through a concession stand and we were the chute help. It didn’t take me long to tire of that gig and I decided team roping would be way more fun than flipping burgers or pushing obstinate steers down alleys ankle-deep in manure. Unfortunately, my beloved Jack was not a rope horse, so I learned to rope on borrowed horses. Finding a rope horse of my own became the new mission. Can you say déjà vu?