Saturday, November 27, 2010


"Uh, there's a horse running loose through the campground!"

I saw this unfortunate blurb in the local paper (okay, the online version of said local paper), and while the news is a bummer, it brought back what has--with time--become a rather amusing memory. I think I've told this story at least twice here, but in honor of the campground, I thought I'd pull it out again. Besides, it amuses me more each year that goes by.

A month after we got Bar, we decided to venture out on a trail ride. Where should we go? Oh, I know! The beach!!

Can you say rookie mistake?

It was cold. It was windy. Bar had only been with us a very short amount of time. Very short. A blink in horse-human bonding time. We were both uneducated in the ways and lives of Off-Track Thoroughbreds, though Bar had been out on trail rides at this very same beach with his trainer and apparently loved it.

However, I was not her. I was a new and untested human.

We got out of the trailer, got saddled up, and headed out towards the beach, sand and wind blowing in our faces.

Bar took one look at the sand and snorted. "What kind of footing is this? It doesn't look solid and safe to me!" But he went forward, mainly because Lena was bouncing along fine in front of him. I highly doubt I had much (anything) to do with his decisioning at that point.

We got a little way down the trail when another rider crested the hill in front of us, headed back to her trailer. Her horse was blowing and sweaty, which set of Bar's radar a little right there. Then, for whatever crazy reasoning, Steve and I decided to try to pull off the narrow trail and let that rider pass us.

Long story short, I separated Bar from Lena on rather treacherous (in his mind) footing, then pulled on his head. He had one option--go up, and up he went and off I went. I slid right off and right underneath this huge brown frantic horse. Bar must have levitated straight up and off the dune because I saw hooves between the arms wrapped instinctively around my head and then he was gone.

I stood up, all eyes on me--I guess it looked bad, Steve's face was a little ashen--and when Steve asked if I was fine, I said, "Yes," pointed after Bar, and said, "Go get him."

"Please don't head up Highway 1," I thought to myself.

Bar, however nuts he may have felt at the time, kept his head to some extent. He took a tour of the campground instead--probably looking very dark and dramatic on that foggy, misty morning with his head up and wild eye.

"Yes," said Steve in response to the query about the horse dancing through the tents, "I know, thanks."

Meanwhile, I was trudging through the sand worried about my horse, not realizing how lucky I was to be trudging. Several riders came back to check on me and seemed reassured when I spoke in coherent sentences.

Bar circled the parking lot once, then allowed a woman on a different spotty horse to catch him. Went right up to her, as a matter of fact. Which, of course, is what one does when one is a racehorse--you go to that pony horse for safety.

It's been nearly three years since that attempt, and we have yet to go back there. It's not even really that I'm afraid of it, but it's quite a slog through the dunes before you even get to the beach, and then--unless it's a perfect day--once you actually get to the beach, you are often hit with stinging sand and cold wind.

But I would like to go back some nice spring day, so it is unfortunate that the California State Budget is such that this hugely popular campground has to close so many sites. Poor Bar won't get nearly the audience this time.

This is from the trail ride we tried after the one described above--when we figured out the beach was not the best place to start. After the fact, of course.

Katie is already wanting to see how Forrest does his first time out on the trail, and smiled wickedly as she suggested the beach. Honestly, Forrest might be fine wherever we take him, but it might also be good to start somewhere with a slightly less sensory-overload possibilities.

We'll just have to see. Of course, we'll also have to get both boys in the trailer, but that's a whole other blog post.


Grey Horse Matters said...

It's good you weren't hurt on the beach ride. I'm thinking if it was me I'd opt for a safer place for the outing with the boys this time. Have fun.

Dane Jane said...

Try putting him on a long line and just letting him play at the waterline with you on the ground. First time I took Cowboy to the beach, I spent way more time off of him than on (intentionally, fortunately!). Where did you go? If you go to Doran, it's a really short distance to a nice beach (1 small dune) and then if the whole thing goes south, you haven't wasted a lot of time getting there!