Doing my best Rex Harrison Impression, “By George, I think he’s got it!”


Sunday, May 8th, 2011 | Filed under Humor




Today was my first trail riding adventure of the year with Finn.

Now, you’d think I would have gotten out on the trail before this day… You’d think.  I thunk it, too.  But, with work and Mother Nature’s funny joke about creating rain on every single day that I had off… I hadn’t made it out.

Today was the day!  I threw caution to the wind and decided to charge ahead, mid-day, to the busiest and most frequently biked, strolled, walked, hiked and ridden trail of all Nevada County.

I brought out my riding gear and suited up like Lee Marvin in ‘Cat Ballou’.

When I ride, I kinda look like a dirty and hairy little ninja.  Usually I’m in black because I think colored spandex shows…stuff.  I usually wear one of those high-tech Nike knock-off tops that is supposed to let the perspiration out and the air in (why I come home all sweaty, I’ll never know…), a black over-shirt, black shoes and dark glasses.  Hi-Yah!   Dirty Hairy Ninja!

Anyway, I grab Finn and we load up.  Off to ride!

GRAND CENTRAL STATION

While driving to Grand Central Trail Head I could feel my shoulders start to rise in anticipation of getting there and having to turn around because there’s no place to park.

I try to remind myself to b-r-e-a-t-h-e.  I tell myself that if I am anxious, it will make Finn even more insecure that he already is – especially on his first day out of the year.

As I rounded the corner to reveal our parking fate for the day, I see that there is not one trailer in the entire parking area.  Not one!  ??  Is there something I don’t know?  Is this a holiday?  Should I be listening to the radio?  Am I in an alternative universe?  Quickly I check my rear-view mirror to see if Finn is still in the trail or if this is a dream…  I see his nose.

YIPPPEE!  We are the only horses here, Finn!

Finn:  “Great.”

Me:  Wassup, Finn?

Finn: “I just like it better when there are others here with us…”

Me:  I’m here.

Finn:  “I just like it better when there are others here with us.”

The parking lot was totally empty except for us… (I took this photo upon our return.)

FINN FLYING SOLO

Now, I may have never mentioned this before about my lovely, goofy Finn… but he hates to be alone.

If we are with another horse, he is Mr. Personality and Mr. Adventure.  If we are with 4 or more horses, he is Mr. Psycho.  But, when we are alone, he is Mr. Bill.  Ohhhh Noooooo!

Yup, he freaks.

MAKING THE BEST OF IT.

For me, having the entire place to park put me in a fabulous mood.  I was singing as I retrieved Finn’s leadrope and skipped to the back of the trailer to let my little Walkin’ Horse out of his safe place.  I attached his lead, unhooked his trailer tie and attempted to bring him out of the trailer.  He wouldn’t budge.

How he knew that there was no one else there is beyond me.  But he knew.

With a tug, he gave in and I tide him to the trailer.  He gave me the “Is there anyway I’m going to get out of this today?” look.

“Is there any way I can get out of this?”

“Not today my boy, not today,” I chime back.

He gives a loud, wet sigh.

I dance around him while tacking him up.  He is giving me the evil eye so I start singing:

“What good is sitting all alone in your stall, come to the Cabaret…life is a Cabaret old chum, come to the Cabarrrrrrrreeeeeet!”

He wasn’t feeling it.

“What is wrong with you? Hurry up and take the picture!”

HMMMMMMM

It was during the tacking process that I had an ‘aha’ moment.  Finn wasn’t screaming.  Usually, if we are alone, he will scream.  Or, if there are other horses who are there but not with us, he will call to them.  It used to make me feel like he doesn’t like me, but I know the other horses don’t carry bananas, so eventually I will win out.  Finn loves bananas.

OFF WE GO!

As we head down the trail, I realize that he isn’t doing the usual stuff he usually does when we are on the trail alone.  No moonwalking, no asking to retreat, no sniffing every single pile, no questioning of my judgement… Nothing.  Oh sure, he was nervous, but he didn’t act on it.

Wow.  I wanted to keep this going so I decided to sing to calm us both.  And do you know what came out?  This.  (Think Sound of Music…)

“High on a hill was a lonely gelding

Lay ee odl lay ee odl lay hee hoo”

Soft the voice of the lonely gelding

Lay ee odl lay ee odl-oo”

His ears pricked back and he listened!  Sadly, I didn’t know any of the other verses so I kept making up inane rhymes just to keep the tune going.

He was doing so well!

He is listening to me sing as we go down the trail…

But, the real challenge was yet to come.  And we were approaching it…  The death march into the ‘Evil Forest’.  For some reason, Finn is sure there are bears in them thar hills.  And, he’s right.  There are bears.  But, not often.  Of course, to him, any bear sighting is too many.  (I so wish those girls never told him about the bears… I swear, we were riding one day and two girls stopped us who were coming out of the Evil Forest.  They said, “We saw a bear, so be careful.”  We turned around but Finn had heard them – or smelled the bear most likely – as he has never EVER forgotten.)

And here we were.  At the mouth of the Evil Forest…

Finn looked up the hill of the Upper Evil and then down the hill of the Lower Evil about 500 times, but he didn’t stop to fret or flee.  He pushed through his fear!

Finn at the mouth of the Evil Forest. He looks up the hill vigilantly.

Wow!  He has never done so well by himself.  He made it all the way through the Evil Forest and back!  Finn was a new gelding!  I could not believe this horse I was riding!  Who was he?  And, when did he mature?

I was so excited and happy, I never stopped to take any more pics until we got back to the parking lot.

HOME BASE

As soon as Finn saw the trailer, he made a bee-line to the tack room door.  He went so far as to touch it with his nose.  “See, we are here, now get off and let’s get outta here before something bad happens!”

“OK, here’s your tackroom door to door service, now get off.”

I obeyed and got off.

I was so proud of him!   I had to take out my camera and document this historic day.  Finn kept looking behind himself – looking out for the bears…  Obviously he was only slightly more confident than not confident.  But, that was good enough.  Definitely, the scales were tipping on the side of confidence.

Finn kept looking behind us for bears.

MY FAIR GELDING!

I could not contain my pride.  This was a huge milestone in our riding relationship!  A song burst from my chest as I beamed at my newly ‘grown-up’ gelding.

In my most jubilant voice with my lips broad and grinning I belted out:  (Think My Fair Lady)

“The Finn to-day stays mainly on the trail!
By George, he’s got it!

My Finnn to-day wasn’t scar-ed of nothin’…

By George, he’s got it!”

And with that, I gave him his well deserved banana.

His well deserved banana!

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6 comments have been posted...

  1. Jody Brittain

    Enjoyed your story! I don’t sing well…so I talk, A LOT! when I ride. Talking I notice does calm my horse down. I rode last fall with my neighbor lady. I was a nervous wreck. First time Libby and I went out on the trails. SHE talked a mile a minute! I was grateful! It calmed not only my horse down, but me too!

  2. Tasha

    I love your story!!

    And the bridle is cute too, what sort it is. I ride in a Dr. Cooks.

    I sing to my boy as well.. with others, he goes into brave stallion mode (he is gelded now though, but has failed to notice on several occasions!)

    on his own.. he’s more.. oooh are we a lone out here?!?!?!? are you mad woman?!?!?!

    my singing is awful, so think he is actually just trying to get away from it, which means he has to go forwards! lol

    x

  3. Miss Jan

    Yes – definitely the singing works, as I see others agree too. I have an old mini mare that an animal communicator told me liked to be sung to. The mare’s favorite is “Buffalo Gals.”

    Years ago I had a little Arabian gelding who had retired from the show ring, not sure he’d ever even been outside an arena in his decade and a half of life. But I lived next door to trails (heaven! no hauling!) and like my other gelding used as a lesson horse, he too needed to become a trail horse albeit these were pretty tame trails being a suburban bridle park, one of the first on the West Coast, actually got a state charter as a bridle park in the 1950’s.

    But my guy was convinced there was a tiger under every.single.bush. !!!!! I am not a good singer but started humming to him and it was amazing, the startles and spins abated noticeably, so I took courage and among the unintended sharps and flats you could almost figure out what sort of passed for childhood folk tunes (Frog Came a Courtin’ and Loch Lomond and Comin’ Thru the Rye and all that). Then, one of my riding students came along one day on the lesson horse, with me on Mister Spook-Butt. After a shocked and derogatory glare at my atonal vocal efforts, he launched into some amazing broadway musical songs in the most gorgeous light tenor voice EVER. Who knew?? This guy was a paralegal. Obviously had missed his calling – and the horses were literally mesmerized and walked in perfect synchrony to the rythm of whatever show tune he sang!

  4. Linda Horn

    I discovered the “magic” of singing while working with a former PMU mare. She was terrified of being touched in general, but especially on her left side. Getting near her head, ears, and feet was impossible without tranqs. Somehow singing or humming calmed her down. It took quite a while until she would tolerate my touch and further training, but, with a combination of vocalization and natural horsemanship techniques, it DID happen.

    Although physically she’s a perfect candidate for riding, one false move sets her trust back months. I think she’ll always be a “pasture pal”, which isn’t a bad thing. IMO, moving beyond that would take an extemely knowledgeable person who’s also an expert rider.

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