I got back from my first ride with the writer and her friend much more relaxed than when I'd left and was immediately sent out on a 2-hour with a father-son team. They rode pretty well, so I took them along a trail that takes a bit more riding skill than most of our guests have. We had a great time crossing beaver ponds, exploring meadows and circling the top of the mountain.
On the last leg of the trip home – within a half a mile of the livery – the son's horse, Rocky, set to bucking. He'd been kicking at a fly on his belly, and we all thought he got it. Ha! That damn fly just moved under the rear cinch and bit the hell out of the poor horse. So, I pulled up Sundance and blocked Rocky's way. The wrangler horse that I usually ride, RC, would have just bumped Rocky to brace him and been done with it, but not Sundance. She wanted nothing to do with a bigger horse bucking into her. Thank God the kid could ride. He just sucked himself down into the saddle and went with it. I dismounted and reached for his lead rope, hoping that Sundance would stay in a blocking position, but NO, she's a chicken and hid behind me, so that when Rocky bucked into me, he knocked me back into Sundance, who then decided to move and I fell on my arse. 'Twas wonderful! There’s nothing quite like laying on your back with an eleven hundred pound draft cross bucking over you.
I let go of Sundance’s reins, hoping that she wouldn’t realize that home was so close and choose to leave without me, and scooted back out of the way. Once I scrambled back to my feet, I managed to calm Rocky down enough to reach under him and kill the damn fly. By that time the adrenaline was really pumping, so I may have obliterated the fly, rather than just kill it, with the big wind up and slap I gave that poor horse’s belly. The rider had a grin that like to split his face and appeared to have had a great time riding out the bucks. Deep sigh! I retrieved Sundance, who had wandered off to graze, mounted back up and traveled the 100 yards to the top of the hill. We got to the switch-back and, lo and behold, the guys had done some trail maintenance and re-routed the path down the switch-back. Guess who loved that? You got it – the chicken, Sundance! She was already worked up about Rocky bucking and being pulled away from her grazing, and now I was asking her to take a new way down the switch-back. Right. Like that was going to happen. So I dismounted and lead her down, which suited her just fine. I guess she thought she could hide behind me again if there was anything scary on the “new” switch-back. The other horses followed me without a problem and I was beginning to think life is good again. Ha!
I mounted back up (again) and start down to the road. Seriously, not 10 feet and Sundance started choking. I can't figure out what's wrong, but hop down anyway to see if she's got grass stuck on her bit and can't find anything. By this time, she's good and worked up and wouldn't let me re-mount, so I lead her down to the road, where it's nice and flat and I figured I had a better chance of mounting up. Double ha! When we got to the road, she was in serious panic mode and there was no way on God's green earth that she was going to let me back up. She was going to the livery with or without me. I'm just thankful I managed to keep her from backing into all of the cars that were passing (because why would they slow down and stop if they saw a horse acting up?). I finally said forget it and lead her back to the yard (with lots of circling because she kept trying to run me over). My riders were still with me and full of patience (bless them). Of course, the first person I ran into in the yard is the one wrangler I believe to be a waste of perfectly good oxygen, who demands to know what happened, and did I see those dogs who were off-leash? Implying that I'd been dumped off of Sundance rather than dismounting on my own to try to fix the problem. Boss must have seen the look on my face, because he appeared out of nowhere. I told him that Sundance was choking on something and I needed to deal with her, so he unloaded my ride for me.
I unbridled Sundance, and sure enough, there was a glob of mane or tail hair that had been in the grass she'd been grazing that had gotten wrapped around her bit, with a piece about 8 inches long that was trying to go down her throat each time she swallowed. I would have panicked too. I hate loose hair, and wet hair will immediately set me to puking. I'm pretty proud of the fact that I got that green, slimy, nasty hair unwound from the bit without throwing up! Of course, I had the dry heaves for a long time after I made sure she was okay.