(photo: Kira Burdeshaw)
Enjoy todays pictures, words and TWO horse videos!
I had just finished harnessing the Amish raised Percheron, Mary, with Joe, her proud owner. He and I were going to ride up and down the street in front of his farm. Friend and filmer Kira, meanwhile, was ground-bound, and video taping on one end. I had the other camera with me in the cart. I think the idea was to have me drive, but even I was smart enough to know that it wasn't the best idea.
Don't get me wrong: we were on a relatively quiet two-lane road, the horse was superbly trained, and I'd taken horse driving lessons. But I knew in my heart of hearts that training to drive with a miniature horse for a few hours did NOT make me an expert horsewoman by any means.
And, of course, this would mean that everyone would prod me just enough about taking the reins, here, that I would...reluctantly. And within minutes, it would be taken back from me after I failed to signal to Mary that she should STOP, just as a car whizzed by. We weren't quite IN the street at that point, but we had inched close enough that Joe stopped the horse and then decided it better to take the reins. I quickly agreed. Oh, someday I'll be that lyrical horsewoman that is stared at with respect, or perhaps curiosity, but today wouldn't be that day.
So with Joe at the reins, we went off at a nice trot!
(photo: Kira Burdeshaw)
We passed his farm, where his other horses at the fence line caught the excitement and galloped in their paddocks. And, you remember the young black Percheron stallion from the last post? Well, his excitement (read: hormones) kicked in, and since Kira had parked herself directly in front of his paddock, she managed to record his testosterone addled displays--which were, indeed, quite magnificent!
You'll hear me yapping as we pass...and of course, see the reaction of this fellow. And yes, the braying is from the Bullard's Jack (male donkey), across the street, who is equally as excited!
Aside from the boys' shenanigans, the ride was wonderful. Mary was quite well trained, and sensitive to the lightest tough from the reigns. Joe instructed on carriage driving, talked more about the horses, and more as we walked, trotted, and turned the wagon back and forth over a distance of roadway. Of course, with each pass of the farm, the equines got very excited. The sun was setting, the rolling hills and golden meadows around us glowed like magic. It occurred to me then how much I wished to stay here and how much outside of this life I really was.....
The day was not over, though...after about twenty minutes of driving, we returned to the barn, unhitched the big mare, and unharnessed her--with her bridle on, I was then told to do something that seemed impossible--get on the horse and ride it bareback. Yes, I would be "hopping" on this 17hh (or so) horse--city folks translation: I would try to crawl on a skyscraper high horse without breaking my neck.
While I tried to keep a poker face despite the absolute terror in my heart, it didn't help much when Joe good-naturedly bent over and extended his interlocked hands together so that I should use THEM as a launchpad to get on Mary's back.
"Can't we use a step-stool or something?" I asked.
"Nah, it won't work as good," Joe replied.
By now, Kira, Cindy (Joe's wife) and Joe were all chuckling. Shucks if I could help being a city stereotype but I kept thinking about falling off the tall horse...and then what? There would be health insurance issues, possible broken bones and most definitely a bruised...ego. But, because I like challenges, I went ahead with this crazy plan...and put my foot into Joe's hands to be foisted up....
How did it go? Well, let's just say that you will find no pictures or film from Kira's camerawork of this because she, and everyone else ,was too busy laughing. Which means that I luck out in the embarrassment department (update: I realize that she had the secondary camera and has this mayhem in HIGH DEFINITION!)
People, it was not cute, my getting on this horse. I don't even know what to compare it to other than trying to yank and scrunch yourself upwards of an 7 or 8 foot animal. Poor Mary, she was commendable that she stood dead-still despite my grabbing at her mane, neck, fur, whatever. Heck, I figured if I wasn't in this fix, even I'd be laughing at myself.
But..finally..success! I managed to get onto the animal, and--in my own gangly way--reposition myself without a saddle, as Joe led me around a bit. And I managed to get off of her in a SLIGHTLY less crazy way than I got on. Which, of course, meant Kira forgot to film part of it because she was too busy cracking up! And THAT meant getting on again...which I did, but it was still no better than my first crazy attempt!
Joe shows how it's really supposed to be done, with wife Cindy giving him a boost...
Pretty easy, right?
Pretty easy, right?
Anyhow, let's just say that I was done with large animals for awhile--even though we finished our riding exercises and hugged on some more fuzzy animals that shared a paddock with Mary...fuzzy mule brothers!
Kira, in the midst of some fuzzy love!
This was quite a pushy little group--including several other horses, and one particularly velcro donkey who, we found out, had been hand raised and so imprinted himself onto humans. In layman's terms, the donkey thought he was a human, and so had no concept of boundaries, which would be dangerous for a large animal like him. Without bad intentions, he could still hurt a person by leaning on them, stepping on them...or anything, frankly, because of his heavy weight. Hopefully the Bullards can work with him, as he was still young and sweet...
After much hugging, petting, riding, harnessing, admiring, laughing, and experiencing a day of eighty equines, we were plumb tuckered out. Night fell. We would be going home the next day. I wouldn't have traded it for anything, and the bittersweet moment of leaving had crept up on me. I was a city-slicker in the promised land, and while the appealing part of being a vagabond is traveling to remarkable places, there is no manual for how to say goodbye......
TO BE CONTINUED...