Trail ride adventure.

Giving riding lessons to teenagers is a gateway drug to them. Soon they are wanting to go on a ‘real’ ride, out on the trail. Eventually you have to capitulate and load up the horses and go out to an over used local horse trail.
The day was sunny but not too warm. A perfect spring day to go on a trail ride. So of course every idiot, including me and 3 students, all descended with various levels of riding ability, to the tolt line trail. I had misgivings after watching one woman back her horse trailer half up on a bright red Mazda while her husband who was suppose to be directing her lit up his cigarette. He then stuffed the cigarette he had just lit back in his shirt pocket, ran for the truck, only to start howling as he was ripping off his cheap cowboy shirt that was sending up layers of colorful smoke. Later I found out it had melted to the copious hair on his chest acting like a cheap wax job.
We got the horses feet cleaned out and checked for cracks and lesions. Ran a quick brush over the already groomed horses to get rid of road dust from the short trip, then tacked up and ready to ride.
To the right of us a woman pulled out a grey rangy looking horse that was glaring around with a murderous light in its single eye. He had red and green ribbons both tied into his tail. Taking this a teaching opportunity, I pointed him out to my students and explained that a red ribbon meant the horse was a kicker, and the green ribbon meant he was inexperienced on the trail or spooked easily. I told them we would give that horse a wide berth.
Across from us was a very pretty tall black mare and an adorable sorrel pony with a flaxen mane and tail. The pony had a white ribbon in his tail. I pointed him out to my students explaining that the white ribbon meant the pony was for sale. I quickly grabbed a white ribbon out of the trailer and tied it on my bay geldings tail. Maybe I could get rid of Bush. He was pretty enough, but not terribly bright and had a trot like bricks falling off a truck.
We waited about 10 minutes after the grey was out of sight down the nearer trail and we headed down the opposite one. A young guy on a little Arab mare asked if he could join us as his mare had never been on this trail before. She was still green and he didn’t take her on new trails alone, and his friends had not shown up.
The first hour was very pleasant. The young man was quite a good rider, and my three teenaged girls were drooling over him or his pretty little Arab. Both oblivious to being so admired. We were all having a good time. I was turned around in my saddle talking to my students, telling them something about trail and bridge etiquette as there was a much used bridge coming up. All my horses would happily splash through the knee high creek and get a drink. So to let them do so so others could use the bridge.
I heard shouting behind us and the young man helped get the girls off the side of the trail in record time. Then with the shouting I heard hoof beats. Running ones. Bearing down on us was the black mare and the pony. The pony was tied off to the saddle horn of the black mare. On the pony was a terrified, white faced girl of about 6-7 years old. No one was on the black.
I was young and stupid back then. I was also much more athletic. The gelding I was on was pretty green, useless for much of anything except walk trot on a trail, and lazier and dumber than a 4 yr old quarter horse had any right to be. I tried to move his fat butt in line to stop the black mare. She was not impressed and raked her teeth down his neck, scaring the stupid beast into backing into the rope securing the pony. He then leaped forward. Somehow I made the decision to jump onto the black mare to get her under control.
Somehow, amazingly I made it into the blacks saddle. She spun impressively on her haunches, leaping into the middle of the creek, dragging the poor pony with her. It was then I realized the mare had no bridle or halter of any kind on. Oh shit.
The mare was running down the trail and I was wondering what I was doing on a run away mare I didn’t own.
All thoughts right now were for the girl on the pony. I tried to work on the knot, but realized immediately that I was never going to get that knot undone under these conditions. I dug out my pocket knife and went to work. Catching every third branch in the face as I cut at the rope. After stabbing myself in the hand quite severely, I managed to get the rope cut.
The mare freed of her anchor, puts on speed. She was frothing by this time. I am trying to use my weight to slow her and also looking for a good place to dive off. Mainly I am hoping she is going to get tired and slow down and not collapse.
We are in an open area now. Ahead of us I see the rangy grey horse with the Christmas colored tail ribbons. What else does this day have in store for me? He also has no rider. He is looking at me with a surprised expression and a mouthful of grass.
The demon mare heads straight for him. I am wondering if she stops to take him on if I can get off and get out of this mess without injury. Or if they had this planned and she has brought me out here for the 2 of them to sacrifice to their evil god.
The grey leaps forward intercepting demon spawn (as I have not so fondly begun thinking of her), and checks her with his chest and shoulder. I am preparing to leap, but with the sudden lack of forward momentum of the mare I fly off over the grey landing better than I could of hoped, but directly behind that festively bedecked tail. I have the wind knocked out of me, so I weakly roll a couple of times hoping to get out of dangers reach. I lose a couple of minutes. Next thing I am really aware of is the young guy on the little Arab cantering up and the grey screaming. I find he is literally standing over me, in a protective stance. Now he is challenging the little Arab mare.
I drag myself to a sitting position and this one eyed grey is nuzzling me and ‘talking’ to me like a mare encouraging a new foal.
I finally wave off the nice young man and grabbing a hold of greys hackamore. I get to my feet. I pet and scratch the grey, check his cinch and bridle out, make sure he is not injured and with help from from my new friend mount him. I am in the saddle when I realize Demon spawn is gone. As we are riding back to my students, Bradly, my new friends name, tells me that when the mare leapt into the creek it divested the pony of its young rider. She landed in the creek, without a scratch but soaking wet. I had no idea she wasn’t still aboard. The pony came running right back to his little mistress. Her mother came running up and was with the group of girls and her daughter while Bradly came looking for me. No sign of Demon spawn.
We got back to our little group. It took some time. I didn’t realize how much ground we had covered. The grey was a very responsive beast! He was trained to a treat! He also had lovely gaits, and seemed to flow from one to the other.
There were about 15 other horses and riders and unmounted people around our little group. The grey’s owner was there, also the owner of Demon spawn, whose real name I was to find was Regal Midnight. I think my name fit her better. Also the couple who had tried to park on the Mazda’s hood.
I tried to give the grey back to her owner, but she was having non of it. She finally mounted Bush, my block headed gelding. Along our ride back to the trailers I got the whole story. The woman who owned the grey gelding had bought him only a week or two before. He was suppose to be a great horse, but was missing an eye. So she had gotten a good deal on him. Her friend told her that she should put the ribbons in his tail because since he couldn’t see well, he would spook at horses coming up behind him. (He never did.) She had tied him up to visit with some people she knew, and when she looked around he was gone. She didn’t like riding him because he had ‘too much go’. I figured that probably had to do with her tendency to grip with her legs too much whenever she got nervous. Not that Bush cared. To get him into anything over a walk or slow trot you had to have spurs, the other horses leaving him behind, or be calling him to grain.
The black mares owner had also recently purchased her mare. She had ridden her once before, in a covered arena the day she bought her. She was an ex race horse. As soon as she mounted and tied the pony to her saddle, the mare freaked out. Bucked her off and took off, bent for returning to hell. Probably never ponied another horse in her life. She had decided they were keeping the pony, selling the black.
When I got to the truck, I caught a look at myself in the mirror. I was pretty scary looking. I had a black eye, with a cut over it that had covered my face in blood. Red weals and welts from the branches that had whipped my face. I was missing a chunk of hair. I was filthy, and had random bits of grass, leaves and whatsit in my hair.
So at the end of the day, I got home with some money and 2 horses I didn’t leave home with and missing one I had left with. I had gladly traded Bush for the one eyed gelding I decided to call pirate Jack. Jack was a registered QH 5 yr old gelding, who had lost his eye when only 3 days old. It didn’t bother him a bit. I won quite a few trail completions and even some endurance rides with him. He filled out really well with good food and regular riding. He was also a great lesson horse, and a total sweetheart once he got to know someone.
I also had Demon Spawn. She was there for training. Also because I was able to catch her. She ended up being a lot better with a bridle on. I retrained her for dressage and she sold to a nice man who did very well with her.
The students went back to lessons, real trail rides were not the adventure they had dreamed of I guess.

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