Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Halloween Play Day

Calabar, Lena, Allie and I went to a play day on Sunday and  while it wasn't a day of perfectly behaved ponies, we all had fun and we all learned a few things. Calabar may have learned more than the rest of us and it's a minor miracle he is still speaking to me. Especially after the glitter.

"There is glitter. On my butt. Really, Mom?"
Calabar learned that sheep exist, along with hot air balloons and elaborate costuming options. Lena learned that it is unlikely that flags will eat you despite what you might think. I learned I can ride a wild horse and stay on and Allie, well, Allie hopefully learned something beyond the fact that I get lost on outings.

Allie and her cow pony princess.
My main goal was to get Calabar out and try this new thing but make it as positive an experience for both of us as was possible. There were some moments I wasn't sure that outcome would actually transpire, but we all made it through despite some very interesting challenges.

Things started mildly enough, with us pulling in and parking at the arena and beginning to groom the horses as they munched. Calabar did notice many things--multiple horses and trailers, music coming from the announcers booth, announcing coming from the announcers booth. These are things that may cause a little sense of deja-vu as they are reminiscent of the track. Lena was mostly concerned with her hay. Actually, she was more interested in Calabar's hay, just to annoy him.

We went into the arena to warm up, keeping the two horses together at first but gradually separating them as they both calmed down. Calabar and I sauntered through the poles a few times and he watched other horses do it faster with mild curiosity, possibly a little anxiety. I sang to him. I talked to him, noting odd things around us. "Yes, that's a blow up Frankenstein over by the snack bar."

At the end of the arena, he suddenly caught sight of both a hot air balloon on the horizon and a horse being a little zoom-y while being lunged--obviously that horse knew something was bad and terrifying--and we had our first dance of the day. I sat through it and he came back down with relative ease and we went back to our warm up.

We were walking with Allie and Lena again when the sound of thundering hooves came from behind us. Calabar scooted forward, likely to either get in front of the horse trying to pass him or just get out of the way. Again, I stayed with him and brought him back to himself.

At least until he saw the sheep. Apparently, sheep are really slathering horse-eating monsters or perhaps someone has heard the rumor that wolves sometimes play dress up, too. Calabar was fine when he could face them, but the second we would turn to walk back to the arena he would whip around me--never in the bubble--so he could face them again. Eventually, when they did nothing but lay there and stare at him, they ceased to be terrifying.

Amazingly enough, while I was a little nervous, I didn't find myself willing to get off and give up.

Even after the next freak out which was--by all accounts--a ride worthy of any rodeo bronc. We were doing figure eight flag barrels. You take a flag in, ride around the far barrel one way, swap with a flag there and head towards the near barrel (as in near the exit gate), circle it the other way, swap with a flag there, then ride back to the center before turning and exiting the arena. Apparently, Bar thinks there is only one direction to circle a barrel and he argued. A lot. Oh, and the flag can only be on one side of him, too. Until he stops, sticks his nose into the bucket of sand holding the flag and says, "OH! It's just a flag! Okay, we can proceed now," like he didn't just spend what felt like forever doing his own little dance moves.

Me, doing whatever was opposite enough of what Calabar was doing to keep me on his back.
And just like that, the storm was over and he proceeded to act like a normal horse and we finished the course and exited the arena to applause and kudos for our wild ride.

I don't know why you were so upset, Mom. This is kinda fun!
Then it was time to prepare for the costume contest. I thought I had a cute idea, though at the time I came up with it I didn't know how appropriate the day would make it. I found an astronaut costume and covered my dark brown horse with glittery stars and, well, just glitter to make him look like a dark and starry night. His crescent moon was a nice touch. Allie and Lena were a cowboy and Indian Princess Pony. Lena says to be sure the Princess part is highlighted--capital P.

Crescent moon on the galaxy horse.
We seriously underestimated the creativity and dedication our fellow show-goers had to the costume portion of the day. There was a horse dressed in purple spandex and spots--complete with a tail--as Dino from the Flintstones. There was a Mad Hatter and a Clown and a Vampire horse.

And then there was what led to the final melt down of the day for my poor over-stimulated pony--Lady Gaga and her cute little Arab, complete with head to toe veils, a skull-topped rain stick and a jingly chest collar. Poor Calabar said that was just too much for him and we decided to opt out of the costume contest in favor of just watching, which was okay. He calmed down and stood with me while Allie and Lena finished the costume judging and then did the egg carry.

When the egg carry was over, Allie let me know she was okay to be finished and we started to pack everything up. Amy (aka Lady Gaga) came over without veils or scary skull stick, but with her horse Sultan still jingling in his fancy costume. This time, Calabar did not spin out in fear and--with huge eyes--stretched out his neck to see if indeed there was a real horse under the bangles. Allie gave Calabar a treat for being so brave, so he tried it again. He still wasn't sure about it all, but at least he went back to curious instead of terrified so we ended on a good note and headed back to the barn with our glittery and painted ponies.

I could (and did a little bit) critique and nitpick my actions or my position or how I handled each and every new thing that came up. I could let it sap my confidence and keep us from trying new things.


I could be proud of Calabar and me and the fact that the bond we've built--the trust and respect--got us through this day of scary sheep and more new things than the brown horse had experienced in years. I could pat myself on the back for staying on a horse as he became an overly athletic version of himself.

Methinks I'll go with the latter.

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