It's been a rough summer. June was filled with lamenesses, July with uncertainty.. and hives.. I'll get back to that. Tuesday I was short on time and planned to go out solo for a nice, mentally relaxing ride for both Fetti and myself.
I try to do this occasionally - wandering down the trail at whatever speed she desires and not nagging at her, just along for the ride. Usually we walk for a mile or two, I insist we go a bit further, she decides walking is boring and we start moving out. It's low-stress, low-work sort of stuff. On a weekday afternoon? Should be fine. Might as well just go bareback to reinforce the low-work part.
We encountered two strange men (fishermen, perhaps?) heading down the river. I grumbled, waved politely, and kicked on into the river as Fetti gawked and wondered what the hell they were doing clambering on trees on the bank. "She likes the water, huh?" "Not really," I replied as I kicked and tapped and forced her in. What are they doing? I don't know, pony, I don't know. This should have been my first sign.
The next set of men narrowly dodged us on the singletrack coming right out of the river, the first one drunkenly assuring me that he was very drunk and maybe going to have a baby. Or something. I nodded, smiled, kicked on and convinced her to trot off at least a few steps down the trail. At this point the option of turning around down the trail was gone: I had not two creepy/strange men on the trail, but two sets of two men. Okay, Fig, carry on.
We walked somewhat tensely down the trail for maybe a minute or so, rejoiced that the first Bag of Stuff was gone, and came to a screeching halt when another Bag of Stuff was right around the next corner. Can't turn around - crazy folks behind me on the way home. Can't push forwards too hard or she'll spin and unseat me. Why did I think bareback was a good idea? Fine, we'll call it a training moment and we'll patiently wait here until Fetti is willing to walk forwards. Five minutes later and no further forward (in fact, possibly a few steps backwards) a sane-looking jogging couple comes up behind. They kindly led my poor, brain-fried horse past the Terrifying Bag of Stuff. Saved.
Until, thirty seconds later, some high-on-something dude is hanging out with a big backpack and a giant orange plastic disc-or-something. The joggers have already outrun us (see: bareback, unmotivated, bouncy trot for five steps). Confetti eyeballs him, wondering what the hell I've gotten us into today and why we couldn't just stay home. I'm wondering the same thing. He is at least mostly coherent and explains to me that my horse is terrified because "it's orange!", despite my reassurance that she doesn't care what color it is, just that it doesn't belong. Nope. She doesn't like it because it's orange. Luckily it's orange and accompanied by a person, so she dutifully haltingly walked past, a few encouraged steps at a time, until we get to the uphill and can trot to get the hell out of there.
At which point we've actually made it the ~0.5 miles into the park, both of us emotionally and mentally exhausted. I started debating how soon we could turn around, how much time I had before I needed to leave the barn, and whether we could justify this as actually doing anything today. We made it maybe two-tenths of a mile before discovering a CAR! in an unusual spot. Fair enough. I've never seen one there before either. Another two-tenths of a mile later and I opted to turn around, short on time and having made it a remarkably long time without either of us feeling too terribly traumatized.
Thankfully the humans all relocated by the time we made it back on the same trail. The orange plastic thing was still only moderately terrifying. The bag was scary but by then she was so fried it didn't even matter. We heard splashing when we got to the river, and I looked across to see what horse was coming over towards us. Instead? Four deer, all heading towards the barn. For extra bonus mental trauma, we saw one deer leap out of the bushes as we were within sight of the barn. We don't actually have a problem dealing with deer -- but after thirty minutes of constant traumatizing events, I would not have blamed her if she found them terrifying too.
I am a bad blogger and did not get pictures. I was too busy trying not to transmit terror to the poor pony. There were profuse apologies to her both on the way out and the way back. This wins for most eventful ride in at least a year, and we weren't even out long enough to bother tracking it.