Trudy Andrew | Canadian Author

Horse Tails

Riding Robin

There is little more relaxing than a long trail ride on a beautiful day. Unless it’s long trail rides, when out camping with a horse. Even better, if you’re doing so with one or more good friends. We competed in competitive trail, yet always made more of the weekend than just the competition. If the competition was on a Saturday, we would stay overnight, and pleasure ride the next day. It’s rather amusing to think anyone would want to plessure ride after riding twenty-five miles the day before, but if you really love to ride, it’s pretty well perfect. We enjoyed the camaraderie around the campfire in the evenings, as well as the idyllic scenery, of the beautiful areas we rode. That the man enjoyed it as much as I did, was an added bonus. Higgins had been a wonderful, first horse for him, and I hoped Robin would be the same. As it turned out, not so much. She was more than willing to go over, up or through pretty much anything, as long as there was another horse to follow. Even the Souris River wasn’t a problem, as long as there was another butt to follow. She decided that she didn’t like her forelock blowing in her ears, and random branches running along her sides and rump were most annoying as well. Not all branches mind you, as she was selective about what was annoying, and what wasn’t. The whole forelock issue was ridiculous as well. After all, she never fussed about it at home in the pasture, silly horse. When hubby pulled a small trail map out of his pocket, it was almost the end of her world. Though I’d done considerable work on desensitizing Robin, apparently a good deal more was required. She was quite the drama queen. If she led, or fell behind, even the tiniest bit, she would spook at every little, imaginary or non- imaginary thing. Her spooks were hard, abrupt jolts that sent a shockwave all the way up your spine, to the top of your head, and to the very tips of your fingers. She didn’t buck or bolt. Quite simply put, when she was being silly and constantly spooking, she gave one incredibly bone-jarring ride. I don’t think I can remember another ride, where I heard as many grunts, groans and ‘oofs’ as I did from my husband that day. I felt a bit sorry for him, but couldn’t stop giggling either. It truly was funny, honestly. Robin was showing a quirky part of her personality, and I had more work ahead of me.
The next day, we were eager to enjoy a day of riding the beautiful trails of the valley. Yet, as eager as hubby was, he also appeared to be hedging. Something was holding him back.
“What’s up?” I asked, as we busily got our horses ready. A couple of locals were going to guide us, and I didn’t want us to keep anyone waiting, “Don’t you want to go?”
“Well,” with a sheepish grin, he shrugged, “I do, but not on Robin. She kills me. My neck can’t take that.”
“Then ride Thow-ra,” I said and immediately got a saddle out for her. As I preferred to ride bareback, I’d only brushed her out, “I’ll ride Robin. But we have to get our butts in gear. I think almost everyone’s ready to go.”
A few minute later, we joined the rest of the group. Anticipating a wonderful few hours, we were all ready to get at it.
About halfway through the ride, the two cowboys on their brickhouse Quarter horses led us to an extremely steep, rather long incline. Apparently, the trail went straight up the bank, and up they went, the rest of us straggling along behind.
Now, I don’t know if the pair of cowboys were messing with us, because we were competitive trail riders, or it was just fun for them to test us, but we followed where they led, just as we’d been doing all along.
I was third from the end, then hubby on my Thow-ra and another rider behind him. The pitch was ridiculous, it was very long and high, and covered with short grass. Horses grunted from the effort and struggled. Robin followed the horses in front of us and really had to dig in, to propel herself upwards. I kept glancing back to see how hubby and Thow-ra were doing, and happened to look back exactly when the steel ring broke out of the wide, brand new roping cinch we had purchased only days before. When Thow-ra bunched together in her efforts, the cinch couldn’t handle the pressure, and catastrophic failure resulted! Off saddle and hubby slid, down Thow-ra’s back, over her rump and onto the ground behind her. As if in slow motion, Thow-ra went to her knees as she, hubby and saddle slid back down the hill a good ten feet or so. About twenty feet below them or so, another horse reacted, tried to turn sideways and promptly slid out. It was so ridiculously steep, and the grass made it slippery. I had no choice but to carry on. To stop was impossible, to turn foolhardy. Once attaining the top, I leapt off Robin, passed off her reins for someone to hold, and went to help.
It was the most hilariously funny thing I have ever seen. They both appeared to be perfectly fine and without injury, other than some grass stains and the cinch, of course.
Having had the presence of mind to let go of the reins, hubby had staggered to his feet, picked up the saddle by the horn, and was making his way up to where Thow-ra still waited. Without setting the saddle down, he collected the reins and helped Thow-ra to her feet again. The pair took each measured step upwards with the grace of a turtle, a sea turtle, out of water. Carefully making my way down to meet them, I took the reins and couldn’t help it. I grinned, and I giggled, too.
“Don’t you dare laugh,” he warned, though he was barely able to keep a straight face, “I mean it.”
“Okay,” I agreed, even as laughter bubbled up, “I won’t, promise,”
“Liar,” responding to my laughter, he wryly smiled, “stupid cinch. So much for new and overkill. First ride, too. Now what?”
“We’ll figure something out,” I shrugged as I helped Thow-ra the rest of the way. I couldn’t stop giggling. He looked like some bow-legged cowboy, his legs wide and bent as he tried to keep his balance and carry the saddle as well.
The other rider whose horse had slipped out onto its side had also had folk go to her aid, and thankfully, other than a sore leg, she and her horse were both okay. It could’ve been so much worse.
A cinch was fashioned out of someone’s back cinch, the saddle was secured in place, and we were off again. I have no idea if the ‘cowboys’ regretted messing us around or not. I hope they felt at least a little ashamed of themselves, but as it turned out, karma sometimes steps in to set things right. We were crossing a wide meadow, when one of the horses of our fearless leaders suddenly exploded. I’m not even kidding, quite literally exploded. It started with a squeal and mighty buck that never stopped. It bucked until the cowboy sailed into the air. It bucked until the saddle flew off, and still it kept bucking. When the big horse finally stopped bucking and ran, all wild-eyed and freaked out, back to its concerned buddy.
I’m pretty certain that the cowboy wasn’t at all pleased with his horse, until I pointed out the trickle of blood, running from the poor animal’s nose. Of course the horse had lost its mind. Something, wasp or whatever, had stung it up the nostril. The pain must have been incredibly intense. This time there was a billet strap to somehow replace, but between everyone, it was sorted. Maybe it’s a little wicked, but it seemed like someone had just received what was due him. That the horse was stung was awful, yet as it happened and it was no one’s fault, I took it as karma. Even now, so many decades later, I grin a little. I’d never seen anyone fly through the air quite like that before. It really was a sight to behold.
Oh yeah, one guess who ended up with Robin?

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About Trudy Andrew

Trudy Andrew lives on a small farm just east of Winnipeg, Manitoba, where she enjoys her Morgan horses. A dreamer since she was a child, its no surprise to those who know her well that her imagination would find an outlet in writing, as it has in the past through artwork.
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 Oakbank, MB