It started out so perfectly.
I got up especially early so I could fit in a ride. I went out to get Finn, my Tennessee Walking Horse, and he was ready to go. He went from the pasture and into the trailer in about two minutes. So far, so good. The truck was full of gas and the gate was already open. Yay!
The ride to the park was sunny and glorious. When I got there, the enormous gate had been left open. Score! And, my favorite spot was empty! Oh, this was going to be a great day!
Finn walked out of the trailer and tied up gracefully. He didn’t whinny and act like a kid. He was composed and mature today. Yes! Grooming was easy, he wasn’t full of mud and his mane and tail were untangled. The saddle and gear assembled perfectly and we were ready to Go! But oops, I had forgotten to pick his feet. I’d better do that…
I picked up the front left and started to dig but it looked different, something was… ohforcryingoutloud! He’s missing a shoe! Dagnabbit. The stoopid mud had sucked his brand new shoe right off. Merde. And, it was at that point I remembered I had sold my emergency boot on Ebay because I had never used it — or I guess I should say that I hadn’t used it — yet. I had no duct tape and had nothing that would protect his newly trimmed hoof on this rocky terrain.
OK, well, I’m not going to let this little imposition ruin our day. We are going to go on a trail hike, then! I took off his gear, put his halter back on and we set off. Now, with all of my horses, we usually walk (me on the ground) trails often in the beginning. For me, it helps me learn about the horse and creates a confidence that we both need to start riding. I did the same with Finn when he was new. But, I had forgotten how fun that wasn’t. I had forgotten the early days…
Finn is the horse who thinks he is Daniel Boone. Why ride on the trail when you can trailblaze? He sees no reason for walking on the trail. Heck, it has already been done… let’s go someplace NEW! If you take Finn on a trail he’s seen before or if you make him go on a fire road, you may as well be asking him to cross nails. He would rather sit down and pout than go where every horse has gone before. In his little horsey brain, he fancies himself a Captain Kirk, commanding the Enterprise. He wants to go discover new lands. Or so he thinks… Having taken him on those types of uncharted cross country rides, I can tell you he is absolutely fine… until he hears something. “What was that? Did you hear that? OMG! I know it eats horses! I suggest we leave NOW!” Yup, that’s my Finn. He wants to go into the dark forests as long as there are no boogeymen.
So, here we were. Me at the helm, him at the caboose. See, it’s easier when I’m riding him. I can keep him from pouting on the known trails because I keep him occupied. But, today as we walked along, I had to drag him. As far as Finn was concerned, keeping the 10′ lead rope taut was his goal. No matter how many times I looked back and gave him my mare face, he didn’t change his pace. He sauntered like he was Old Shep.
I thought about driving him from behind and actually did it for a few yards but reconsidered when he kept looking back at me and moonwalking.
My next bright idea was to bring him slightly off the trail. That actually worked for a while. But, since it had rained all week, I kept slipping into mud holes. So I scratched that idea even though Finn was on a roll. He was pulling me along which was why I kept overlooking the holes. And then I thought that with our luck, he’d pull the other shoe. So we got back on the trail. Screech. Halt. Plod. Oh, and let me add, he has no issue with circling for hours down the trail. I tried to use that tactic but he thought it was kinda fun. I started to get vertigo.
Finally, I resorted to insulting him. As I’m pulling him along, sweat running down my face, “Hey, you have four legs, I only have two… what is your problem?” And, “Finn, you are a big, strong boy, the other horses are laughing at you!” Finally, I lobbed the big one, “No treats and no Granola Bar when we finish.” He ignored me and I think he actually slowed down, if that was possible. “This is so boring, Mom! I’m sleep walkin’ here.”
At last, we hit the halfway point, which he knew. With the agility of Mikhail Baryshnikov, he swiveled around and started back at a rate of speed worthy of a checkered flag. Now we were at the most glorious running walk I had ever seen! I was actually starting to have a good time! There was no slack in the rope and we were moving! I was almost airborne as we flew back to the truck. For the first time, he was gaiting like a maniac. I swear that my feet only lightly touched the earth as we covered so much ground so fast my eyes were tearing. His head was bobbing and his teeth were clacking. This boy was having a great time! He looked back at me a few times smiling and pelted some horsey insults of his own but I ignored him.
And, just as we got back to the trailer, exhilarated, exhausted (or at least I was…), laughing and sweaty, a man who was just starting to ride out said to me, “Hey, aren’t you s’posed to be ridin’ that horse? Heh Heh!”
And we just looked at him… Finn gave me that, “Well aren’t you gonna say something?” look. Here my wonderful gelding had just given me a fabulous trail run so proudly I retorted, “Why no, Sir, this here is a Walking Horse…” And, I was right. ;)