I hope this letter is not too late in coming. I want to express my appreciation to Debra Speakes for her comments in the Aug. 23, 2005 Payson Roundup.
We were the family directly in front of Debra's horse just as it reared up during the rodeo parade. I was very pleased to read that neither Debra nor her palomino horse suffered any serious injuries.
I want to make it quite clear that, as a family, we realize the situation could have been much worse had Debra not been an experienced horsewoman.
When the skateboarder began to approach, we could tell Debra's horse was unsettled by the noise and began to act up. Debra immediately took charge and was very firm in controlling the situation. She did so well that we believed the danger had been avoided. And if the skateboarder had moved on quickly, the incident probably would not have occurred
Unfortunately, we were positioned at the end of the parade route and there was a lot of extra pavement for skating. The disturbance was drawn out too long for the poor horse. With people and roadblocks on all sides, he felt trapped, threw his rider and fell. Before bolting, he reared up on the spot where my children were standing just off the curb.
I would like to thank some people for their quick thinking and reflexes. First I want to thank my oldest son, Clayton, for having the presence of mind to quickly grab his 4-year-old sister and move away with her. I've never known him to move that fast in his life. Second, my 9-year-old son and 8-year-old nephew tell me they were grabbed by the arm and pulled to safety by an unknown person (or persons) who we didn't get a chance to thank. My husband and I were seated behind the children, and by the time we stood up it was over. Thank you again to those who took action to keep our children safe.
We fault no one except the skateboarder, who I'm sure didn't realize the events he was going to set in motion. City children don't spend time around horses and therefore don't know how to act around these live animals. I hope the young man feels sorry for what he caused and has learned a valuable lesson.
We hope to see Debra in the rodeo parade next year.
Carrie Chlarson and family, Payson
Editor's note: On Saturday, Aug. 20, a rider in the Payson rodeo parade was thrown from her horse after it was spooked by a young man on a skateboard. The rider, Debra Speakes, is a member of the Payson Horsemen's Association. She published a letter thanking the public and paramedics for assisting her, and also apologized to anyone she frightened or endangered. The above letter is from a family that had a frightening front-row seat at the incident.