Kate and I joined 12 other riders from the Kittitas Valley Trail Riders for a ride out of the Lower Elk Heights trailhead, to an overlook of the Taneum Valley. She was pretty good most of the time...
In the half hour or so that Pat and I waited last Monday, to see if the rain would quit (it didn't), Kate had done a bunch of flirting with Pat's boys, Rambler and Chief. There was much squealing and tail lifting and squirting. I commented at the time that, because the girls don't pay much mind to RT, I seldom notice when they are in heat. (In the past, when either Kate or Maddie have had a naughty day, someone will often ask "Is she in heat?" to which I usually answer "I don't know. I guess that could be the problem.")
On Tuesday's ride with Rambler, Kate was good as gold, and I didn't think much of it. Of course, she only had Rambler to focus on.
Yesterday, as soon as Pat loaded Chief in the trailer, Kate started carrying on again! When we started out up the hill, Pat was towards the back and Kate and I were in the middle of the group. But the first time we stopped for a breather, Kate suddenly HAD to find her boyfriend, and didn't want to continue up the hill without him. That was okay, as long as we were on a trail that allowed us to ride side-by-side.
When we had to go single file, Kate wouldn't walk in front of Chief ("I can't see him!"), but behind him, she kept pestering him, and he got a bit balky.
After our rest stop at the overlook, I made a point of putting Kate up with the leaders. As long as she wasn't in the very front, with no one to follow, she was okay with this, keeping up well, and with a good attitude. Every time we stopped, she looked back to make sure Chief was still with us, but didn't insist on being with him.
Back at the trailers, Kate started calling and looking for Chief. When Pat tied him up next to her, however, she got really nasty, squealing, and threatening to kick. So we moved him to the other side of the trailer, which just made Kate MAD! She stomped, she called, she paced as far as her leadrope would let her. Eventually she settled down, as we sat nearby eating our lunches. At loading, Kate was worried Chief wasn't coming along, but once both were loaded she behaved herself. Surprisingly, she we dropped Pat off at her place, Kate did not carry on about losing her lover, and traveled well the rest of the way home.
There was one other unnerving incident during the ride, that Kate handled fine--I was the one that got shook.
A gal behind us was riding a fairly green horse, and when she took a drink out of her water bottle, he spooked at the sloshing ice in the bottle. He took off, and I definitely heard several seconds of thundering hooves, before Kate turned slightly and I saw the woman bail out and the horse take off into the woods. Kate scrambled a little as he went by, but as soon as she stopped, I climbed down, as did several other folks, either to keep their horse calmer, or to aid the woman who had gotten dumped.
The horse was soon caught, and we started back down the trail. The woman chose to walk the rest of the way down, and I was hesitant to get back on, even though Kate seemed fine, so I walked with her for a bit. But these feet were not made for walking (I tell folks that's why I took up riding) and after a half-mile or so, I climbed back on. Kate was steady and responsive, but I continued to have butterflies all the way back.
Even though it was not Kate who got spooked, I spent the whole ride back debating whether or not I should even take her to next week's trail competition. In spite of how pleased I was with her behavior and skill level on Tuesday's ride, I was back to thoughts of selling the whole bunch and retiring to a cozy cabin on the beach--With no horses, we could actually afford it!
Fear has been the theme of numerous blogs lately, as well as several magazine articles. Especially for those of us who are getting older, and already facing various other health issues, the fear of getting hurt raises huge road blocks to our enjoyment of our equine pursuits. And I am not one of those women who returned to riding after a long hiatus of raising a family/pursuing a career: I have ridden pretty much continuously for the last fifty years, including training and competition.
I'm not sure how I would handle not having horses in my life, but I've got to figure out how to get past this nagging feeling of dread whenever I ride, or it's not the relaxing escape that I ride to experience.