Trudy Andrew | Canadian Author

Horse Tails

Out of Africa

I didn’t need company to ride, I had my horse, and usually my dog as well. Sure, it’s great fun when friends ride along, but riding alone was fun, too. There were favourite paths to enjoy, faint deer trails to explore, and long, wide stretches of sand to gallop on. The gravel pits that were our haunt, hadn’t been worked in many years, and there was every kind of terrain a horse rider could possibly want. From steep hills to flat stretches, there was everything.
There was one particular stretch of sand that my lovely, old mare, Thow-ra always looked forward to. Her excitement and anticipation would become obvious as we neared it. She knew that she would be allowed to stretch her legs, and run as fast as her heart desired. To tell the truth, I loved it, too. The barely suppressed power, strong muscles coiled and ready to spring into a gallop, were a huge thrill. The second I gave the command, even ever so subtly, Thow-ra would leap into a full gallop. We loved the pure, simple exhilaration, and I don’t know about Thow-ra, but feeling the wind rushing through my hair, is pretty wonderful.
We were out riding, one hot, summer’s day, and of course, I had felt the pull of gravel pits. First off, we went for a swim. A welcome and refreshing respite after riding in the heat of the day. Afterwards, we explored a little, did some hill climbing, then lo and behold, we found ourselves at the wide, open stretch of soft sand.
Thow-ra made no secret of what she wanted, and I didn’t make her wait. Leaning forward in unison with releasing the reins, I was rewarded with a giant leap, straight into a flat out run. We were racing across the sand, eating up ground at an amazing pace, when out of the corner of my eye, I spied something. Coming up on our left was a dog. A huge, lanky dog that bounded over the soft sand, like he was floating on air. Then, I noticed movement to my right that caught my attention, and left me both astounded and awestruck. A great Dane was running along, on our left side. To our right was, a whole different sort of beast. Running along with complete ease, right there beside us, as if it was right out of Africa, was a lion. Well, to be precise, a lioness, one of the African variety. To have a lion of any kind running alongside a horse and rider was crazy strange, and probably dangerous, though that never crossed my mind at that very moment. To have an African lion bounding beside us was more than a little surreal.
I have to give credit, where credit is due. Thow-ra didn’t panic or react dangerously. She simply stayed straight and true, and kept a close watch on our unexpected escort. Someone had to have somehow called them, for as suddenly as they appeared, they veered off. Pulling up Thow-ra, I sat there and watched them go, the Great Dane, lioness, and a whippet I only noticed then. As swiftly as they’d appeared, they vanished.
I couldn’t tell you how long we stood there, staring at the thick bush off in the distance, half expecting them to reappear again, but we eventually rode on. We were a far more subdued pair, as we contemplated what could’ve happened, and how badly things could’ve turned out. I had heard that there was a kennel that was also keeping a lion, yet never once, did I think I would one day see it. I certainly didn’t think it would run beside me while I was riding. What if the lion had responded to natural instinct, and taken down my beloved horse, me astride? After all, a running horse was most definitely a prey animal. We eventually left the gravel pit, and headed for home.
I don’t know what made me look back after riding by a parked truck with a camper in the bed, but when I did, I was taken aback all over again. There, sticking out of one of the camper windows, was the head of a lion. I hadn’t imagined what I’d seen, what I had experienced. I had actually run with a lion, or to be precise, a lion had run with me.

1 Comment
  1. wow!!!

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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