I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for city girls who marry into an agricultural way of life. They are expected to learn, understand and participate in a culture that is as alien to them as the life of a New York cabbie, a San Francisco homeless person, or Donald Trump’s butler. But, to their credit, most of them try.

Diana married into Barney’s Ohio-raised, horse-loving family. On her first visit to the grandparents’ house, they arrived as Grandpa was trying out a new horse, a 3-year-old Palomino colt named Cody.

“Would you like to ride him?” Grandpa offered. Diana was dressed for their airline flight scheduled later in the day. “I don’t know if I …” she started to say.

“Oh, come on,” Grandpa said, “I can tell he likes you.”

Diana thought to herself, “Grandpa’s 87-years-old. They wouldn’t let me get on an animal that could hurt me.” She kicked off her high-heeled sandals and put her bare left foot in the stirrup. Barney, her new husband, held Cody by the headstall. Their eyes met.


“Get on quick, honey,” he directed. The tone of his command sent a small jolt through Diana. She swung up. Simultaneously, Cody bit Barney. Barney reacted by whacking Cody’s nose. Cody threw his head back and collided with the mounting Diana. A blossom of stars filled her head as she was thrown back. She grabbed the horn and jackknifed forward. Then she heard Grandma yell, “Hold still, I’m tryin’ to take yer picture!”

Barney, oblivious to Diana’s predicament, was sternly lecturing Cody, who threw his head back again and banged into Diana’s head as she pitched forward, both hands locked on the saddle horn. A Fourth of July’s worth of stars exploded in her head as she heard Grandma shout again, “Hold still, I’m tryin’ to take yer picture!”

Diana slid off the saddle in a heap into Barney’s arms. It was the beginning of a new life with her own cowboy and a migraine that lasted three days.

Once on the airplane, she and Barney let out a deep breath. He was proud of her. He told her so. She mumbled something into the fog of her headache and noticed her black pantsuit was shedding handfuls of golden Palomino hair. As she squinted one eye and looked up at him, he added, “I can’t wait to see those pictures!” PD