Last Saturday, I took Beanie up on a challenge - a day-long horse ride up a mountain. "It's a test," she said.
So, there I was bright and early, ready to experience loading a horse onto a trailer. Here's a tip: Watch those hooves! We loaded three horses in all - her Bob (1/2 Paint and 1/2 Clydesdale), Ben (Arab) and a white horse I've been riding lately, also named Bob (Arab). Just to make it confusing, we brought along a human named Bob - he's Ben's owner.
We hightailed up the road to Evergreen and tacked up our steeds. Sadly, my initial mount was something straight out of 'America's Funniest Home Videos' - I shiteth you not. My considerable ass did not land in the saddle as I intended but just behind it, on the horse's rump. God, how embarrassing. The good news is, I didn't panic and neither did my horse. It wasn't until Beanie yelled, in full exasperation, "For God's sake, slide off!" that the solution occurred to me. Heh. Oh yeah.
Once we all got our butts properly secured, we were off! And I mean m'fucking OFF! Normally, when I ride Bob, he is terribly slow so I was not prepared for his hidden turbo engine. They were all so excited to be out that evidently, a full-speed celebratory canter was in order.
I lost control several times and even yelled out "NO!", which is not becoming of a horsewoman. Still, I managed to stay on - a miracle. Once again, a completely terrifying and totally exhilarating experience.
As we headed up the mountain, the trail got steeper and the rocks got bigger. In trying to maneuver around two sharp boulders, Beanie/Bob had a little trouble but his sheer girth got them through it. The Bob/Ben duo did not fare as well. I watched in horror as Ben's hooves slipped and slid down the boulder and both my friends struggled. We all held our breath but thankfully, they did not slide down the mountainside. Both rider and horse were pretty scraped up but survived.
This is where being the caboose helps. White Bob and I agreed, we would take the long way around. From there, it was easy. I had a blast just climbing up and up and then, galloping through the trees. I have to admit, I love that bikers and hikers have to get out of our way when we walk through - kinda makes you feel like you're in a parade. Ever since Burning Man, I can't seem to get enough of parades.
Several hours later, we made it down the mountain and let the horses graze. I've met some hardcore vegetarians in my day but nothing that matches the passion that horses have for grass. In fact, a horse is capable of eating himself to death without much thought. (Dogs are the same way about running.)
What's really weird is that after you hang around horses enough, you start to see things as they do. Large expansive fields of green grass become more than picturesque - they look juicy and tender, like a steak. "Mmmmmm, that looks good," you think to yourself.
Since they were eating, we did too. We broke open the hard cider to wash down grilled chicken, pasta salad, chips, fruit salad and best of all, angel food cake with some intensely red strawberry/banana/blueberry compote. YUM. After the ride, it tasted even better, as you might imagine.
Until the rear end of White Bob, mere feet from me and my fork, dispensed with another load of manure. "Nice timing, bud," I chastised him. He just kept nibbling from his hay net and blinked his big brown eyes at me. Sigh. How could I possibly be mad? One cannot argue with extreme equine cuteness. So, I took another bite of cake, a swig of cider and relaxed in the sun.
It was another perfect summer day in Colorado.