The ride started at 9am in Picayune Mississippi. I usually rush around in the mornings and bust my tail trying to get everything together, only to sit on the horse for at least an hour before we actually ride out. So I wised up this time, and had absolutely no intention of getting there "early" to get ready. We would pull in at 9am on the dot and start to saddle up. I forgot to allow for my morning Facebook time (a must have), stopping at Mickey D for sausage biscuits, and driving slower than Evil Kneevil with the horse trailer. I pulled in at 9:15 and darned if everyone was already riding out. Hunh. That's never happened before.
We found a spot to park, unloaded, saddled, etc etc yada yada yada. We headed out fairly close behind the last riders, and if we'd been able to canter we would have caught up lickety split. But nope, not us. We brought Pierson with us, who hasn't been on a horse in a year. We had compromised that he would come if we didn't make him go any faster than he felt comfortable going. We crossed our hearts and pinky swore. It was the dumbest thing I ever did. So, here we are, moseying along, being passed by a passel of snails, on a gorgeous spring day. The girls are chomping at the bits (humans and horses) to go faster, but Pierson was happy poking.
It sounds so simple, doesn't it? Follow the trail until we catch up? Not quite so. The trail branches off in places. So follow the road apples, you say? Yeah, okay. But horses, even a hundred of them, don't necessarily leave them every few feet. As for tracks, well. When there a hundred horses and they come to a fork in the trail and the wagon master says "let's go this way" at least ten horses say "nah, I don't think so" and gallivant down the other way. So there are little horsey paws all over the stinking place.
After about forever...okay, 45 minutes, we caught up with them. It was a good thing too, because we were tired and hot and wanted a break and some ice cold water...but break was over and they were moving on. Rude. But at least we're caught up. This was when I noticed that we didn't have our gps. Not that big a deal, but it would be nice to play with. I have a new toy, and it's always nice to know how far I am from the trailer. A few hours later I'll really wish I had it!
The next thing you know, before we even died of heat stroke even, we were on the banks of the prettiest sand creek you could ever find. That's the thing about Mississippi. You have to get into the deep back woods, but it is BEAUTIFUL. Going down the interstate isn't going to get it. You have to get into the country. We mingled on the banks of the creek for a bit, burning all the skin off our noses. As for my kids and me, we didn't know if we were crossing, stopping for lunch, or turning around.
On the ride we had, oh, I don't know, six or seven wagons pulled by mule teams. So they got a running head start and yelled at everyone to clear the way around the bend, so they could cross the creek without getting bogged down. Me and Ainie were standing round the bend. We're deaf. We didn't hear no yelling; we jest felt the ground shaking 'neath our feet and looked around in time to see the donkeys from hell descending on us. We scattered, let me tell you. Ainie to the river, me up the bluff. And people giving me dirty looks for not moving ahead of time. Hello? Do you see the bright orange ear molds in these here ears? They're called hearing aids. Maybe you should get your face out of your kegs long enough to pay attention to that before you try to run me down. For crying out loud.
Well, anyway, after our brush with death, all the wagons passed and it was our turn to cross the creek. I love crossing water. It's so much fun. It feels like adventure, but what's really great is that the horse does all the work and I stay dry. Theoretically. And on a normal horse. In case you haven't noticed, I collect abnormal horses. I guess I should explain.
Blitz has picked up a habit lately. He's started getting stubborn. I think he got it from that neanderthal Quarter horse next door. You give a horse some papers and they think they're all that. I'm telling you. Anyway, sometimes, when I tell him to go he doesn't. Can you imagine. It's very frustrating for someone like me, so used to perfection. This time, it wound up being a good thing, since Jane, who was ridden by Ainsley, decided now was a good time to go for a swim. She flopped sideways into the creek, saddle, Ainie, and all. Poor Ainie was catapulted into the current and was terrified, not realizing that it was only a couple feet deep. It still flows quite swiftly. And I'm such a loving mother that I didn't realize her terror at first and called out, "Did you get your hearing aids wet?!" (She didn't.)
She came out of the water, Jane came out of the water, but there was the matter of the horn bag (saddle bag that hangs on the saddle horn) floating down the creek. I just bought that thing, and it was twelve bucks! But more importantly, it held four of our water bottles. Cuh-RAP. I wanted to take my boots off first, but it was floating away too quickly so I waded in to get the blankety blank thing. And realized that all the water had fallen out and was no where to be seen. All we had left were the other few bottles in the big saddle bags. I got my boots wet for this?
Since she was already wet, Ainie opted to walk across the creek, and I rode Blitz and led Jane. Guess what? Everyone else was already gone. Guess what else? Blitz doesn't like crossing water by himself. He says it's lonely. And Jane doesn't like being led by other horses. In a tantrum, she threw herself to the ground, ripping my arm from my body, and tried to roll in the sand. The saddle prevented her from going over so she got back up. I'm laughing hysterically because I'm convinced that I am the only person in the universe that can have this many truly psychotic horses, and all at the same time. I didn't know it was just going to get worse as the day went on. Less than a minute later, after I reattached my arm and got Jane's reins back, she laid down on the other side! What in the....!
Finally, Blitz got lonely on his side of the creek and jumped into the water and ran, leaping and splashing, all the way to the other side, like he was some kind of little kid or something. Idiot. Ainsley got back on Jane, but she was still sniffling just a bit. By now, we are so far behind everyone again we should have just turned around and back tracked. Oh, if only.... But no, that would have taken common sense.
We now realize that Jane's hackamore is broken, thanks to her little adventure, rendering it useless. Normally, this wouldn't be a big deal since she can be ridden with a halter and lead rope. But today, when she's making Diva look like an angel? We're in for it.
Scotlyn just has to catch up with the group. Can she please run ahead. Oh please please please can she? Finally, yes, anything to get you to hush. But if you die, don't come whining back to me. She runs ahead while I hold Blitz in and make sure Diva stays behind. Jane couldn't care less. She hates to run. When Scot is out of sight, I let Diva go. Big mistake. Big. Huge. I never knew Diva could run like that. So here I have a dilemma. I'm one person. I can leave 8yo child that just got thrown into river behind and race ahead to catch up to 10yo child on horse that I know will stop as soon as he catches up to 13 yo child... And I decide there and then that I will never ever take all three children on a trail ride without my husband again. I chose to stay with Ainsley, because I really did think Pierson would be fine.
I was wrong. Around a curve in the trail, he comes limping toward me, lip stuck out a mile, mutinous look on his face. It never bodes well for the peace in our immediate future when he has The Look. "You said we wouldn't run." Tis true, but someone forgot to tell Diva, evidently.
He appeared to be physically okay, so I ventured a cautious, "You okay?"
"NO, I'm not okay! Why did you make me ride that horse? I hate horses! Why couldn't I have gone to Luke's house like I wanted? Why do you hate me? Why do I always have to do what YOU want to do? Why can't we ever do what I want to do?" Mmmmkay, that answers that question.
"So, um, you hurt?"
"Yes, I'm hurt! That stupid horse bucked me off!"
"Diva doesn't buck!"
"Does NOT!" I'm an adult, I swear it, but he was dissing my horse! By this time, we got to Scotlyn, who had hold of Diva. She told me what happened.
"Diva bucked Pierson off."
"You lie! Diva doesn't buck!"
"Oh yeah? Well, then, why don't you ride her, huh?"
Pierson used just a little too much attitude and disrespect in this comment, bruised rear end or not, so he got the stinky eye. He backed off a bit when I did my Clint Eastwood quiet voice, "Excuse me? Would you like to repeat that?"
"No, ma'am." That's better.
Alrighty then. "Pierson, do you want to ride Diva again, or do you want to double up with one of us?" He wanted to walk. It was way too far and too fast paced to walk, so it was out of the question. We argued. It escalated until finally someone came out of the woods and found us to see if there was an emergency because he heard screaming. No, I wasn't embarrassed. I did, however, wonder why none of my kids seem to have gotten my sense of adventure. You know, the "yes, I just fell and broke my leg into three pieces but I can still finish the race. Please take lots of pictures and make sure you brag about it to you all your quilting club friends." kind of adventure.
After Pierson falsely and viciously accused Diva of bucking, it all went downhill. Things began to get a little blurry. I know we had a short stop to turn around, and I found a wagon that had a spare seat for Pierson, so he didn't have to ride anymore. Lucky him and lucky me. I didn't have to listen to him bemoan the fates that made me his mother. Stop for lunch. Ate a completely squished pb&j. Portioned out a few sips of water. Oh, and we were back across the creek, so we played on the sand a bit.
This is an important note, so pay attention. This entire time I've been riding Blitz. He has been a gem, my sweet boy has. But when Diva was tossed over for a mule, I saw my chance to ride the "good" horse. See, Diva is what's called a National Show Horse. She is a half Arabian/half Saddlebred. It's a pretty amazing breed. Arabians are great for endurance and many other things, and the Saddlebred gives you a smooth ride. Riding her is like sitting in a rocking chair. She's a dream to ride. Blitz is my special boy that I love for always and forever. Just to look at him makes me so happy. But riding him is like riding a cheese grater. So at lunch I switched saddles and decided to ride Diva and tether Blitz. Mistake number 1,368,000 for the day! For three main reasons: 1)Diva really does buck 2) Blitz doesn't "do" tethering and 3) Diva ain't crazy about it either.
For the love of all that is holy! If I had any gray matter at all, the second I took two steps, I'd have gotten off, switched saddles back, and ridden Blitz again. It was working! Why oh why did I feel the need to fix the only thing that was working in this horrible day?Why, I ask you, why? I got on Diva, Scotti handed me Blitz's reins. Diva took one step and Blitz took 20. He pulled me forward, yanking my arm out of my socket (same arm, different horse) spun around Diva in a circle, ran over an old man and a small child, knocked over some drunk's beer (who cussed and farted), Diva kicked at him, then spun to bite. I have been reduced to playing Twister on horseback, and we haven't even left the lunch spot yet.
You know what? If you're still reading this, I applaud you, but I can't go on. I'm emotionally drained. Let's sum it up with some highlights:
- Jane laid down with Ainsley again in the middle of the trail, and we realized something was very wrong, as this is far outside her normal docile behavior. She was so upset by all the commotion that we deduced that she had caused herself to colic and was trying to roll as a way to relieve her stomach upset.
- Ainsley wound up riding in a wagon and made a new bestest best friend. But she didn't get her name.
- Scotlyn also really hit it off with a girl and they rode together and laughed and talked the last half of the ride.
- Jane's bridle finally snapped completely off her head while she was being tethered, and that's when she calmed down. She followed us the last few miles home with no problem at all. Her colic eased itself out with no meds needed.
- Blitz was ridden by someone in one of the wagons that didn't have a horse. I loved watching him under saddle and was so proud of how well he did. Everyone always says he's the scary horse because he likes to run, but he was perfectly behaved that day.
- I had to take a nap in the truck before I could drive home. The kids were glad because they got to play with their new friends and go swimming in the lake.