Those that know us know that we’re people that don’t really like that much drama, especially my parents. I’m a little more dramatically inclined (the problem with doing theatre work since junior high school). The ponies are both definitely dramatic. Beamer’s personal life philosophy is, “If it’s worth reacting over, it’s worth reacting BIG over.” Mimi tends to just be very expressive, and is not one to hold back if she thinks it’s a worthy cause.
So that’s the base we’re starting with. Last weekend, we skipped riding…I’m such a bad pony mother…but it was way too bloody hot out there to ride. So the ponies started this weekend with two weeks off.
The weather sorta cooperated over the weekend. Saturday was tolerable, as the humidity was down and there was a nice breeze in the air. Mimi was quite happy to be going out…they were both turned out in the small turnout the previous night, and she came scampering over to the gate to see me. Awww, my pony wuuuuvvvvssss me. :) Beamer hid in the corner.
However, he changed his mind after he saw Mimi leaving the pasture, and he hustled over to Dad, lest he get left behind. He was still a bit reluntant heading out from the trailhead…Mr. Lazy. Mimi was, as always, more than happy to go. Y’see, there’s a reason she’s called the Go Pony.
So we’re meandering up this lovely wash, actually catching a nice breeze, which is rather unusual. Typically, this wash doesn’t get any air movement – it’s sort of narrow, high-sided and twisty. We like it, because it’s rather pretty, the sand isn’t too deep, and it’s a good place to trot. The ponies hate it because it’s high-sided, and in an area with high animal traffic. So they’re always a bit more up on this trail.
We come around a corner, and there, tangled in a greasewood bush, are bobbing Mylar Balloons of Death!!! OH NO!!! As anyone who has encountered such a thing knows, these are typically beyond most normal horses level of threshold tolerance for Scary Things. Beamer is in the lead, and he slams to a stop (fortunately we were just walking at this point), stares, then attempts to whirl around. Mimi was right on his butt, and the prospect of plowing into her was infinitely scarier than the balloons (good boy, Beamer, you’re learning…)
To compound matters, we’re sort of stuck between a high bank on one side, and a very dead, cracky, pokey tree on the other side. Beamer turns again, and tries to back away, but the tree poked him in the butt. Heh. So he’s standing there, ready to just explode…I get Mimi around his butt and get her to take a few very hesitant steps forward, just enough to get her head in front of his.
She’s doing a fantastic Arab impression – neck arched, ears pricked, eyes bulged, nostrils flaring, the Arab Snort – it was beautiful, I wish I would have had my camera. With her head in front (which means she’ll get eaten first), Beamer calms down enough for both of us to jump off safely, and I bravely march forward, dragging Mimi behind me. She’s still wary (see above Arab Impression) but as long as I’m in front on foot, she’ll be brave and face down the Balloon Monsters.
Beamer, Mr. Curious, decides that he’s not going to be left behind, and starts creeping along behind Mimi. I stop next to the balloons and start deflating and untangling them, Mimi watching very intently the whole time…she’s very curious what I’m doing, and as I start crunching them up, she has to poke her nose forward and sniff them. I get all the balloons deflated and crunched together and cram them in my pommel bag…my environmental good deed for the day is done. :) Not only did I protect other horses from the Balloons of Death, I got them out of the desert…even if the horses hadn’t spooked at them, I still would have stopped and gotten rid of them. That kind of garbage doesn’t belong in the desert.
So, as if this wasn’t enough drama…we’re on the trail back to the trailhead, and I glance down at Mimi’s face and see this bright green twig stuck to her bridle. Upon closer inspection, the “twig” turns out to be a praying mantis, clinging to the side of her headstall to hitch a ride!!! This is only the second praying mantis I’ve ever seen. My first thought is, “Great, this is the horse that hates bugs.” Second thought is, “But I don’t want to kill it, they’re good!” So, how to get a rather clingy bug off the pony’s head without crushing said bug or setting off said pony?
We stopped, and I spent a couple minutes trying to flick him off with the leather popper end of my rommel. He wasn’t impressed with my efforts, and proceeded to crawl all over Mimi’s face. And she just stood there! This is the horse that went into meltdown at Williams because there were no-see-ums buzzing around her, and now she’s letting a praying mantis crawl all over her eyes, forehead, nose, and bridle?
I was finally able to get the leather end under him and gently flick him into a bush next to the trail, and Mimi just stood there calmly the whole time. That sort of thing leads me to wonder if horses can inately tell the different between “bad” bugs – bees, mosquitoes, gnats – and “good” bugs – praying mantis (what’s the plural? manti? mantises?), ladybugs, butterflies? Because normally she’d be throwing an absolute fit, and here, she didn’t move. Amazing.
That was the end of the drama for Saturday.
Sunday was a lot ickier…humid, with not much of a breeze. We were keep the ride very short, on a loop where we could do more trotting and make our own breeze. Partway through the loop, which is actually outside the park boundaries, we have to cross the road that leads into the park. 2 lane, very little traffic except that going into the park, so not a big deal. As we’re approaching, I see two shapes bounding down the road…oh, great, more loose dogs.
Rural Queen Creek is loose dog haven…nobody puts dog-safe fencing up, so there’s always dogs running around. Mostly, they stay out of the park, but we’ve been threatened a couple times, and it always makes me a bit wary. These two appeared mostly harmless – a juvenile-looking Labrador and a Pomeranian. Still, many dogs idea of fun involves way too many teeth for my liking. So I took the offensive.
I turned Mimi right at them and starting trotting down the pavement (thank goodness for Renegades!), yelling at them. They froze, hunched down, and scattered. Headed for the trees and shrubbery to the side of the road, circled way around me, and started slinking off. Mimi and I still followed them until they took off running down the road, back towards the residential areas. Mimi was so proud of herself…she had the “Pony Stare”, the kind that makes cows wilt before her…and she was pratically strutting by the time we got back to Dad and Beamer, who were just watching the show from the side of the road.
The most impressive part was watching the Pomeranian take a flying leap off a three foot high bank into the sand wash below to get away from us.
The rest of the ride was quiet and drama free, with the exception of Beamer proving that he, too, can do a Power Trot. “Look at me go, I can extend my legs, yes I can!” When he gets motivated, he can really move. He just needs to learn discretion about when to use said power trot – ie., not on a sort of rocky, slightly downhill, twisting single track. Even if it is going back towards home. :)
And thus ends my weekend drama.