I found that I haven't let my guard down emothionally with this homely, lovable horse. I just keep waiting for him to be the "devil in disguise...." After all, I had visions of a "gorgeous" horse. Not one that is all marked up from horse bites all over him. Not one who's coat is thin and not very shiny. And not one who even the vet said "He's just so cool! I find the homelier they are the better..." "Whaaat????"
Today, I took a big step. I took him out to an "organized" ride with several people from the stables that I'm boarding Durango in.
For me, that was a big step! I didn't know any of them, except the owner of our stables. I'm so used to riding only with my Pony Cousins and to do all this myself was a big thing for me.
We were leaving the stables at 8:00 a.m. So I was up early, got all my stuff organized and loaded and took off about 7:00am. Stopped for coffee and arrived at barn by 7:15am.
"cowgirl courage" into her refrigerator and proceeded to take stock of my tack room.
Everything seemed accounted for!
I went in to get Durango out, tied him to the trailer and proceeded to groom, pick hooves etc. He just stood so nicely and seemed happy to see me.
When it came time to load up, the other three horses were having a bit of issues, like horses backing up, refusing, and I noticed the one lady had to walk her horse WAY back, and then RUN up into the trailer to get her mare to follow her. Well, whatever works!
I was just so proud of Durango, I just walked him up to the trailer, said "up up!" And he jumped right in. Big whew! from me....
We drove about an hour up to the Seattle area to a place called Bridle-path park. Durango backed "very slowly and carefully" out of the trailer and tied quietly to the side.
This group event, had a nice breakfast laid out for us: Wonderful fruit bowl, scones, muffins etc. We grabbed a bite to eat and then we began to tack up.
I had bought a new cinch for Durango, (needed a smaller one than I'd borrowed from Desert Rose) I managed to tack it all up correctly, got him all saddled up, walked him over to a log and he just stood perfectly for me to mount. (I'm still babying my mounting leg from a previous fracture.) But, this horse is really tall and Im really short....I'm not sure I'll ever be able to mount him from the ground....Gonna keep working on it though. I'm just so proud that he doesn't step away, and stays quiet until I'm mounted and ready to go.
Now, keep in mind I'm riding with all Arabs on this ride. I'd heard they can be quite high spirited I think. So my anxiety was definitely up. And, I was wondering how Durango would do with the new snaffle bit I'm trying on him.
We take a beautiful, nicely groomed and shaded ride, this place, the trails at least, reminds me so much of Lt. Stubbs Stewart equestrian park.
I kept him third in line. We did move around a bit as they feel it's good for them to not get too comfortable with "their spot." During the ride, several horses spooked at one thing or another, the lady in front of me had to spin her horse a couple times.....(Been there done that!) But, During all of this, Durango would just stop and wait for their drama to be over with and then we'd go on. He never reacted off any of their spooks. Again....I was so proud.
I did notice though, that when we'd pass another group of riders (going the opposite direction) he didn't like those who were carrying those riding crops? (A stick that dressage riders use I think). He did look hard at them and side stepped away from them. Hmmmm? What's that all about?
But, that was the only "reaction" he did all during the ride.
We got back, and they had a nice lunch ready for us. Teriyaki Chicken, Corn on the cob, Caesar salad and wonderful HOMEMADE pies. We had to tie the horses up to our trailers and walk down a small trail to the picnic tables where lunch was. It was worth every penny of our $15.00. Also, they had door prizes and I ended up with a nice pair of riding gloves for my grandkids.
We had just finished our lunch, when some ladies walk by and said "Do you know who has the trailer on the end with the 3 horses? We said "Yea, that's ours." They said "Well, the Palomino is just kicking the HELL out of that white horse!" We all jumped up and ran.
But, when we got to them, sure enough, it must'v been an ugly scene, because "Teddy" the other Palomino had a gash on his forehead, a gash in his leg and had cracked a hoof.
(This is Durango, not Teddy. They do look alot alike tho.)
Rose's horse "Rico" had two gashes in his side, one large and one small, his chest was all swollen and cut. NOT GOOD! This is one of the gashes in Rico's side after it was all cleaned.
We all rushed around, getting them separated. We grabbed and filled buckets of water and began spongeing all the blood off them and checking wounds. They cleaned and bandage wounds as best as they could and we decided to load up to come home. It was a sad end to a beautiful ride. We all chastised ourselves for not eating where we could see them... More lessons learned. We believe they were either fighting over the food or the mare...not sure.
During all this, Durango remained calm and he again, loaded up really easy and we headed for home.
Back at the barn, once we got all unloaded Rose reminded me that we need to De-worm Durango. I thought..."Oh great, this is where he'll show his true colors." Well, she just put the syringe in his mouth and quickly squirted it in, and all he did was chew and make funny faces. He didn't spit any of it out!
Ok, by now I'm just bursting with pride and saying to myself...."Maybe he isn't the devil in disguise. Maybe, I really DID get the perfect fit!" I know that some day he's probably really gonna make me mad over something, but so far I'm really happy with him. And I'm finding myself letting that wall down.
Oh and by the way, He did MUCH better in the snaffle bit. He never threw his head. But he did try that "pulling his head out forward some, and I think it was either because I was checking him to keep off other horses butts," or, my reins might be too short. I had purchased some to "match" the halter and pad, I may have to exchange those....If nothing else, HE IS GONNA TEACH ME how to stay light in the mouth, he lets me know if I'm on him too much.
But all in all, it was a great day!
Now, I'm just waiting to hear when some of my cousins can get away to ride!....Darn jobs! :-)