Recently I had reason to be in Florida for a work project, without internet or even a phone (found out too late mine did not work down there). I will not get into the work details, suffice to say I had a few breaks where I had to wait for things to be done before I could do my end of it, so didn’t I find myself driving about with a cohort killing time.
As fate would have it we passed a place advertising trail riding , so I suggested we see what the prices were like and maybe go for a ride. We pulled a U-turn and headed up the driveway behind a horse trailer pulling in-with two saddled and bridled horses in it. A ride was an hour long and cost twenty dollars, fitting our schedule and budget, so we paid and filled out the many obligatory waivers. We then headed over to the corral they pointed us to, filled with the usual assortment of motley dude string horses, all saddled and bridled already. A few were tied to the fence, and a father and young daughter were mounted and waiting to go. Being a horsewoman I immediately noticed one of the horses had his bridle twisted up, and fixed it, while I waited to be assigned a mount.
My friend was given a mellow paint mare and helped on, then they brought me my horse.
“My” horse was a palomino of about 15 hands on a good day, with a body score of about 1.5! None of the other horses looked like that-all I can assume is that they figured I was small so they could throw me on him. Wrong and WRONG. I looked at the young girl who led him up and said, “I am not riding this horse, look at him!” Dumbfounded, she replied,
At this point I start to turn into George Morris….“He is NOT OK, I have horses, he is severely underweight!” and I lifted the monstrous saddle pad he wore (to hide the hips and ribs??? Yikes!). I then told her it would be kinder for me to carry him around the trail! Realizing I was a know it all bitch who wouldn’t budge they scrambled to get me another horse after asking if I could ride, and I heard one girl say to another “Give her Eenie!!” So as one 13 year old went to catch the elusive Eenie the first one told me the palomino, who was now resting his forehead on me gratefully, was a rescue. I let her know that if you are going to rescue horses you FEED them and get them healthy before you throw dudes on them. The second girl brought out Eenie, an Appaloosa in good weight, and I approved and hopped on. The first 13 year old got on her horse and we were off to the trails…except she couldn’t get her horse to leave the rail.
My friend is a non-rider so she couldn’t either, and the father/daughter combo wasn’t going anywhere, though he was skillfully waving the reins and making noises . Lawd have mercy…I reined the Appy around and he too wanted nothing to do with going for a ride, so I gave him some leg. He backed up. I gave him more leg. he backed up and went up a bit. I gave him a good couple of boots…Eenie realized I was not the type of rider he was used to and headed down the trail. The rest of the party followed us. Yes, Eenie was my “Fuck you” for questioning their lack of horsemanship, I am sure. LOL!
The guide then gave Dad the lead rope to his daughters horse, as she was all of 5 and could not even reach her stirrups, never mind steer. Wow, just wow. I used to take out trail rides, if a child was to be ponied I did it, and from a dead quiet horse, of course. Dad couldn’t ride to save his life, and he was to lead his kid? Excellent…Offering to lead the kid did occur to me, but my horse was giving me a bit of hassle and I did not want that on my head, should anything happen. Eventually Eenie decided I was not that bad, and I saw the horse he had once been. He neck reined lightly, he had been well trained once upon a time, his ears perked forward and I scratched his neck as he strided out happily. He didn’t even offer to kick as dad and daughter blundered into his hindquarters repeatedly and half wrapped him up in the leadline. at one point. My friend on her pokey pinto and the “Guide” (term used loosely) brought up the rear. I could hear her telling my friend how her Mom had paid for her to ride in all 50 States, and my oh-so-cynical brain was thinking a few lessons at a REAL barn may have been a better investment. Where they teach you to actually ride, how to fit tack, that horses should not look like humane society ads…that sort of crazy snobby stuff 😉
Things continued like this until we had reached our turn around point, Dad kicking his horse to trot, blundering into my horse…daughters horse going up one side of me and his the other…me scooting out of there. As we started to head towards home they (predictably) got a lot more animated and Eenie seemed to have turned into a gaming horse in the chute. It was then, when his head was flipping in the air, that I noticed the off side shank of his curb bit was bent out at a bizarre angle. Guess I should not have been surprised, his saddle didn’t fit the greatest either.
We jig jogged along in the lead, having a discussion about not running for the barn at Mach 3…while Dad helpfully kicked his horse to speed up and incited Eenie to more antics. Then the little kids horse bolted, she screamed, and I cut them off at the pass.
So far my friend had been quite oblivious to how ridiculous and dangerous this all was , as she is not a rider nor has she ever worked at a lesson or trail barn. But she is a mother, and all of a sudden she sprung into action, telling the guide to get the kid off that horse or lead it herself. The guide tried to lead the kid but her horse tried to kick (I had visions of little kid smashed leg there) so she switched mounts, as hers was quieter than the kids. And I finally got sick of dumbass Dad and told him to stop trying to run his horse and just fricking walk, unless he wanted his kid to get run away with.
The skies opened up and we got drenched, but we headed back uneventfully and again Mr Eenie decided I was not the usual dude and relaxed into a nice walk on a loose rein, I silently snickered as we rounded the turn to the barn. I am sure they expected me to come back hanging on at a dead run, or maybe on foot. I thought of trying a nice lope so I could look really cool but didn’t want to chance the rest of the horses running.
The stupid did not stop with the ride, I dismounted and asked if I should loosen the girth, which is the least one could do if the horse is to remain saddled in the heat all day! Nope they don’t do that I was told, the guide simply shoved Eenies reins in the side of the headstall and let him loose with the rest of the saddled up string. I would have done it anyways, but knew they wouldn’t check it for the next dude. She then went to take my friends horse and I noticed Dumbass Dad had tied his horse by the reins to the rail. One of the things a real trail guide immediately catches, as it is a bit of a babysitting gig and dudes do dumb things…so I untied and held the horse instead. Scanned the herd, hoping to see the palomino untacked, but couldn’t find him. Told them to do something about Eenies bent bit, as I’m sure that didn’t help his head flipping light-in-the-front-end antics any!
Well, all I can say is they better hope those waivers everyone fills out hold up in court as I have never seen such an unsafe operation in my life.
The Retard Rodeo exists, I rode in it!