This day started out the same as most days during our riding season. Somewhat flexible. This was a very warm day in July! Here during July and August we frequently have days that get into the low 90’s, not so very hot if one lives in Texas or the desert area’s in our country but around here very hot. However we are very lucky here on our ranch as we do not have an awfully lot of those days. I must say I am never a fan of those days. Somehow or another it just isn’t my idea of a great day when after being outside 15 minutes or so I start sweating, you know what I am talking about, so much sweat pouring out of your skin it is hard to keep it out of your eyes. Yuk! But we are really lucky because our trails mostly uphill to where there is a most welcomed shade from the many trees alongside. Now the first part of getting up higher is a dust bowl for about the first 30 minutes on many of those days. But fortunately that also gets better the farther on down the trail you ride. Anyway I am getting ahead of myself.
The first thing I must do this morning is to get 5 horses saddled up and ready to go so I can take a really nice couple on a guided horse ride for an hour and an half. They have told my wife when making the reservations they were experienced riders, especially the father. They were really a great family. They were in the area to visit Crater Lake which is just down the road from us.
Nothing special about getting the horses from their play area. They have about a 7 acre area to hang out in awaiting their turn to take folks for a ride. I ride some almost every day, customers or not. Some days I have company and somedays not. When I ride alone I tend to ride much farther as I am still exploring the land we call home. When a person has a few hundred acres to ride there always seems to be another place to explore.
So our guests arrive, father, mother and 2 children, this should be a great ride for all.My wife, Kori and I get the horses saddled up, ready to go. This is going to be a great ride. Little did I know what all the horseback Gods had in mind for me today. Before we head out I have everyone do as I do with all my riders always, we all mount up in a large outdoor arena we have here so I can get a feel for how everybody can ride or not. This is always an adventure because people mostly seem to over estimate their riding ability, some by a little, some by a lot anda few only in their minds of make believe are they “good riders”. Now, many times they could be but for lots of reasons they really are not. Well the outdoor arena shows me right away who is and isn’t. It takes usually only to watch a person get mounted to figure it out. But for those overly generous folks about their rating of their abilities I can figure out where you really are very quickly. Now many times I am tempted to ask in what world where they good riders or only in their dreams. But that would not be a nice thing to say. So I don’t. But i do try to help with simple suggestions to allow us to ride safely wth no one falling off of their horse. I must admit sometimes it is hard to understand how some folks come to the conclusion that they are good riders.You would get a kick out of how hard it is at not being totally honest. But you know it will not be very good for business to watch someone for about 60 seconds and fall on the ground laughing your head off at them, asking them who ever told them they knew anything about riding. It doesn’t happen all that often, but sometimes when it does it is truly, truly funny. One problem here, you are about to take a relatiavely inexperienced person on a ride. Believe it or not they will hold you and your horse responsible for any and all problems that happen.
Today is a good day, no one is thinking they are an expert, are happy to listen to advice , very friendly folks, this will be a great ride. If I had only known!
We head on out of the arena to begin our ride. Great people, great horses, this is going to be fantastic. Wow what a way to make a living, little did I know what the future held for this day.
We are riding, some sweating but mostly just pleasant riding, having a really good time. But I notice that the Dad’s saddle seems to be a little loose so I ask him to stop so that I can check it out. Yep it was a little too loose so I have him stop, stay on his horse while I hop down off my horse to tighten it. Now I do this all of the time, no big deal, not at all. I hop down deal with it and everything is great. I hate to confess to this but I am not as young as I used to be so sometimes I cheat a little and look for a tree stump to stand on while i get on my horse, no big deal, do it all of the time. So I have Scout, my horse who I have ridden for 5 years traveling literally thousands of miles. I get her situated by the stump, grab the reins with my left hand, stand on the stump and it explodes. Pow it goes, crumbling into pieces, making a very large sound of it, really loud, causing Scout to jump straight up, scared out of her wits. Honest to goodness she looks at me shaking her head, thens turns around taking off at a dead run, ripping the reins out of my hand. I am yelling at her to stop, in her defense she did for a second but quickly voted with her feet, taking off as fast as she can run with no looking back. Great!
So now I am over 5 miles from the ranch, It’s 95 degrees, no horse and 5 people on horses to be responsible for. The stupidist situation I have ever been in doing this, but then I remember I have a few other not so smart stories also. I won’t talk about them right now
We all talk about the situation with the Dad being very nice, tries to talk me into taking his horse and he will walk as he is much younger. Now do not misunderstand me, that was a great and very generous offer by him. But i was having none of that, my screwup, my walk. Besides who wouldn’t want to walk 5 miles in the dust of their riders in 95 degree weather, while walking in cowboy boots with spurs? I am certainly glad I did not have my chaps on.
So they ride slowly with me walking quickly alongside of them, sweating like crazy trying to remember that I love this business. Naturally they are concerned about Scout my horse or perhaps my soon to be ex horse. i am not in a very good mood at all trying to be cheerful with my 4 guests. Every once in awhile I would think ” they still eat horses in Mexico, maybe that isn’t such a bad thing after all.”
The entire family was great, offering to let me ride and them walk. Really nice. but no way was that going to happen. I was telling them how sorry I was having to walk but this trip (they later would tell me) would be one of the one’s they would remember forever! Maybe so, but it took me at least a month to see the humor.
They kept asking me if Scout would be all right? I kept answering, yep until I got back to her. But in all reality I was very concerned about her myself. My cell phone had died and not a one of them had a cell phone with them. Now what are the odds of 5 Americans being together today and not a single working cell phone. That goes under ‘ believe it or not.’
The lovely hike back was just great, hotter than Hades with these kind people trying to talk me into letting them walk and me to ride, with me refusing to. They were so concerned as was I about Scout, where was she? Did she make it back on her own? Of course I would say, she is already back by now drinking water after Kori had taken off her saddle. At least that was my hope and I was sticking with it. I was hot, completly soaked everywhere from hiking in this heat, miserable but having to be polite, upbeat and nice. Certainly not in a great mood. After constant offers of changing places from every single family member, with me always refusing, we finally made it back.
So we finally get back….and there she was, looking sheepish, in the round pen, where Kori had taken off her saddle, watered her, and wanting to make up. She was also very hot and sweaty. I loved on her for a few minutes, although I did remind her they do eat horses in Mexico…lol…she didnt seem threatened at all!
I must have looked like a drowned rat for sure! Everyone came over right away telling me how worried they were. But it all was good. the famiy was assuring me how this was one of their greatest adventures ever, to my dismay. Bottom line, no one got hurt. My horse was fine. We are still best buds.
Hopefully that was a once in a lifetime type of thing, never to be repeated, NOT EVER!!!!