Monday, August 4, 2008

Sometimes you need to toss the script

It is good that we had one ride instead of two today!

I looked diligently for a place to “ride” horses with Kent. On the internet, we saw some half day trips and whole day trips that sounded like lots of fun but they were far, far away. We were glad to find a ranch that would allow two trail rides in the same day. We scheduled a walking trail for the morning and wanted to try the more advanced ride in the afternoon. We were feeling most optimistic when we left our suburban home at 7:15 am. The sky was dark and ominous at home but setting our sights southerly we saw blue sky and sunshine.

Upon arrival, we were told that it was simply too hot to trot. We could take the walking trail ride in the morning with very little trotting but all afternoon trotting rides were cancelled. We were shocked! You see, last night, in preparation for our horse ride, we watched the movie, Hidalgo. It is based on a true story of Frank T. Hopkins who rode his Indian mustang horse in a grueling race across 3,000 miles of the Arabian Desert’s punishing terrain. It was inspirational! So we never even considered that we might not get to ride because of heat.

This ranch boasts 27 riding horses and boards another 23 horses. We both hoped to ride a beautiful chestnut brown horse with star white markings or boots. Personally, neither Kent nor I considered the painted horses to be as pretty, but that is what was assigned to us. Kent got Tex and I got Scout. I did not want an explanation of why each horse was chosen for us. I was afraid that the answer might have something to do with weight and I did not want to go there. We mounted our horse by standing on a mounting block and just throwing our leg over the horse. Sam, our guide, told us that they have everyone that rides on a trail get on the horse in that way because it is easier on the horses back. I began to see that this ride was not going to resemble anything that we had ever seen in a horse movie.

We were taught how to hold the reins and how to steer the horse. This was all pretty much of a formality though because it was easy to see that we were not actually going to guide the horse into the sunset or anywhere at all. Basically, our horses would go the same way whether we were dead or alive on their backs. And all of this they could do with half an eye. We were told to pull sharply up on the reins to keep them from eating grass. Right! When Scout and Tex wanted grass, they were quite aware that we had no authority to stop them or for that matter. . .make them go again.

Sam told us how to post—something you do when the horse trots to smooth out the bouncing and jarring. Posting is to rise out of the saddle seat for every other stride of the horse's forelegs. However, you have to get the right beat or you get twice the jolts instead of half of the jolts. It’s probably enough just to say that I have difficulty clapping to praise songs in church.

Kent was a delight through the whole experience! We had plenty of time left to our day so we went to the movie theater and watched Iron Man. I normally tend to choose movies that say Romantic/ Comedy or “Based on True Story”. Movies that are described as Science Fiction/Fantasy don’t generally get a second glance. What fun though to watch Iron Man with Kent! It was fun to talk about the story at dinner. It made us laugh! Temporarily we forgot that our sitters were tender. An afternoon ride might have proved painful.

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