Saturday, December 19, 2015


I am a week behind on this post, it's been crazy around here. Last Sunday we had our Christmas get together at the barn. All my new barn buddies were there, as well as a few others I hadn't met before. The plan was to meet up at one o'clock, ride, and then share a potluck afterward. 

I arrived on scene around 12:30 feeling a bit behind the eight ball. If you've read my other posts you know I have an elaborate grooming ritual that I'm a little OCD about. How was I gonna get everything done and be ready to ride at one? I hadn't even grabbed my pony yet, who is always grazing at the farthest point from the barn. Lead rope in hand, I strike off across the field on a mission. Razz was facing my direction and when he saw me headed his way he picked his head up and stared at me for a moment. Then he turned around and began to walk away. Oh no, we're NOT going to play that game. He's never done this before. I'm guessing the previous day's ride was still fresh on his mind and he was probably a little sore from the workout. I refuse to catch him with a treat or grain. Why reward him for bad antics? I slowed down my pace and walked toward him at an angle. When I got close to his herd I stopped and faced his best friend. Razz looked at me like "what are you doing?" and walked right up to me. Success!! I knew that little head game would work. Immediately I attached his lead rope. Then I let him graze for a minute more while I scratched his withers. Just trying to keep the catch experience pleasant for him. And of course today he would be covered in sand.

is this what we're doing now?

Great. I guess it's six in one hand, half a dozen in the other. I could have spent my time trying to catch him. That problem avoided, I would now be giving him an even more intensive grooming than I had planned. I put it in overdrive and got the job done. Tacked and ready at 1:15. Honestly I couldn't believe it was done that quickly but I'm still late. I hate being late. 

There are two barns on the farm and Razz stays in the lower barn with three other horses. Their owners don't come around much at all and I mostly have the barn to myself (which is awesome). I've never understood paying all those bills on an animal you don't come see. But I'm getting off topic. The reason for this paragraph is to convey the point that I had no idea what was going on at the upper barn where everyone else was. I mounted and we trotted up the hill, expecting everyone else to also be mounted and waiting on me.

Surprise, no one was ready. Whew, crisis averted. I didn't want to be "that guy" holding them all up. Me and pony stood just outside the main tacking corral chatting with everyone else while they groomed. The barn owner walked by on his pony. He stays busy with his contracting job and doesn't get to ride that often, and I had never ridden with him. BO made his way across the tacking area and into the arena for a warm up. There were nine riders total. Three were gonna hang around the barn. The other six of us were headed out on the trail. Now that we were ready to go, BO started to come out of the ring. He's an old cowboy who's been there, done that. So opening the gate on horseback was no big thing for him.

But it was a big deal for his horse, Whiskey. Instead of staying behind the gate as he opened it, BO had Whiskey pointing out as it opened. And as soon as it was wide enough to get her neck out, Whiskey charged. The top edge of the gate followed the right side of her neck and lodged between her side and the saddle. Of course she panicked when met with the resistance. And she pushed and pushed even harder to get out, but that wasn't gonna happen. The gate had a smooth round corner where it was lodged and Whiskey wasn't hurt. Can't say the same for BO. In pony's effort to get out, BO had his left leg slammed against the wooden post where the gate latched. He ended up hanging off her right side like a trick rider. His left foot was stuck in the stirrup. By now he was yelling every combo of potty mouth in the English language. Several riders were trying to help but there was nothing that was stopping Whiskey. She ended up pushing against the wedged gate so hard that the saddle slid back over her hind quarters but it was still cinched tightly. Then she tries to start bucking. Keep in mind BO is still stuck and cursing, every move Whiskey made putting more pressure on his left foot. The billet strap on the saddle broke. Whiskey charges out of the ring into all the horses standing in the tacking corral. Now we have an area the size of a large round pen full of horses freaking out and setting back on their tie straps. Barn owner was on the ground not moving. After seeing just how badly he was hurt someone called 911. 

not what you want to see at the barn

The ambulance arrived in less than five minutes. It took the EMTs a while to assess the situation. BO was finally loaded on the stretcher and taken to the hospital. The ambulances left and the farm was silent. Everyone's adrenaline was up, but the situation was handled and we had nothing left to do with our adrenaline. It was quite sad. BO is such a nice guy. And he was so excited about the day's events. It sucked to watch him get hauled off in an ambulance. We chatted a bit, calmed down, those with horses in the tacking corral hand walked for a bit to calm the pony nerves that were frazzled from the loose Whiskey. Then we take off down the trail. It was tough at first but we cheered up as much as possible once we got down the road a bit. We were headed to the sand pits. That wasn't our original plan but its where we ended up going.

We took the same path that I rode in my post about hunter safety . When I took that route the first time it was just me and Hubby. I got to a place in the trail where the path was flooded and I could hear the main highway close by. I had been told that trail came out on the shoulder of the highway. I assumed this was where the trail met up with the road, saw the flooding, and that day decided to turn around. I was completely wrong about the trail. Today we plowed through the water, which was deep enough to constitute a river crossing without the current. Instead of immediately connecting to the highway the trail cut back to the left and into a deeper part of the forest. It was long enough to take an additional hour to cover it all. We cantered, we jumped ditches and tiny streams, and I started to wonder if the sand pits were more fun to ride than the Croatan forest. And right now my opinion is yes it is. 

Eventually we did make it to the shoulder of the road. A secondary, quiet road. Now we are headed back to the barn and everyone is talking about food. I had forgotten about our plans to eat after all the earlier excitement and then being mesmerized by the new to me trail.

headed home

We got back to the barn and untacked. Of course I was all by myself at the lower barn again. Which was cool. A little alone time with Razz is nice. I brush him down, give him three cookies and tell him what a good boy he is. When I put him back in his pasture he hung around by the gate as if he didn't want to say good bye. Not typical of him. So I hang around a bit longer too. I was talking to him, loading him full of compliments. Finally I walk away. Razz was still by the gate.

love him
Now time to chow down. It was my first time sharing food with these folks. I am mostly vegetarian (except for seafood) and it can get a little tricky for me in situations like this. You don't want to offend someone because you didn't try their dish. At the same time there is absolutely no way in hell I can swallow a bite of beef. Fortunately the main course was clam chowder, yay!! I made broccoli salad and mac and cheese from scratch. Temperature was in the low 70s so the broccoli salad really wasn't weird to serve even though its mid December. Everything was great and I ended up with a full belly. I did try a small amount of tobasco cheese dip that had chicken in it just to make nice with the lady who brought it. We started a fire and roasted marshmallows afterward.

feeling right at home
Before I left we got an update on barn owner's condition. All the connective tissues in his left leg were torn, and he shattered his right wrist landing on it when the saddle broke. But he was loaded with meds and joking around with the ER people. Come to find out, he has a history of getting hurt around the holidays, and his wife said it was normal for him to be in a cast or on crutches while opening his presents on Christmas morning. And she had years of pictures to prove it. 

My first barn Christmas party behind me, I drive home thinking about BO and hoping he will heal quickly. Also on my mind is how much I love this barn. I may be surrounded by mostly western riders, but they don't give me a hard time for wearing breeches or a helmet. They don't judge my riding abilities against their own, I feel completely at home here. I wish I had changed barns sooner. No offense to the old barn, but this is where I belong.

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