Dr. Ray Healey
19 min readFeb 13, 2023


Bucking Bronco, Fort Peck, MT, Rodeo, Aug. 2015. Photographer, Dr. Ray Healey.

Soldier of Misfortune:

Riding a Wild Horse Across the New Jersey Countryside

By: Dr. Ray Healey

The first time that I ever rode a horse at a full gallop was a hair-raising experience.

[This story is one chapter of a memoir I am writing — “Adventures and Misadventures: Stories I’ve Told My Friends,” — which I will publish in installments on Medium in the coming months.]

It was mid September of 1964, I had just turned 16 years old — and I had my driver’s license!

At the time I had this heady sense that I was entering a period of incredible freedom.

With my license — I envisioned a glorious future of driving our family car, a sizable station wagon, in quest of any number of glorious adventures.

Dr. Ray Healey Sr. , checking the capacity of the Family Station Wagon.

For me and my (two years younger) brother Todd, my license opened up exciting vistas for road trips we could take.

We were living in a modern house on a hillside in Upper Montclair, New Jersey, and to get anywhere serious you had to drive a car.

Healey House, built by Ray and Claire Healey, on a hillside on Highland Avenue, Upper Montclair, NJ.

Sure, you could take a DeCamp ‘66’ bus into New York City, or trains to NYC or various places in New Jersey — but if you wanted to get to any specific places in the Garden State, the car was the ticket.

Where did Todd and I want to go in those days?

Two places in particular:

First, to the Delaware River for canoeing adventures that generally focused on “shooting the rapids” at Skinners Falls — and once ended in us dumping our canoe in the middle of a section of the river known as THE VIEWING SECTION — where people actually set up chairs and snack tables so they could watch the canoeists and various other thrill seekers and showboats who braved the rapids, get dunked right in front of them, but that’s another story



Dr. Ray Healey

English Lit. Professor. Novelist and short story writer. Adventurer: Pamplona Bull Running, Boston Marathon, "Deliverance" River Running, Cross Country Bike,…