Monday, May 25, 2009
Johnny Goes Camping!
Three days of riding and taking care of Johnny's every need! Minnesota Trail Riders Association sponsors these group camping trips and you can count on group rides plus individual rides as you wish. We arrived at Foothills Horse Camp near Backus MN on Friday at around 1 p.m. and I got John settled with some hay and water on his tie line, got the dogs watered and bedded down in the trailer,
and went in search of someone to ride with. Right away I found a new friend Linda, and her cute young Quarterhorse Peanut. We agreed to tack up and ride out together in 1/2 hour. Neither of us knew the trails and both of us are directionally challenged but there was a map and it turned out fine.
Paul our camp host had created an obstacle course for us to warm up our horses - he had observed that some horses have trouble with unfamiliar things on the trail. So John and I, and Linda and Peanut tried it out:
It involves walking your horse across a tarp covered with beer cans, closely placed barrels to pass through, a platform to cross with step down onto a black tarp, and a platform teeter-totter. John got a big thrill out of smashing the beer cans; he kept wanting to go back through. I am sure he is the kind of guy who would pop packing material all night long.
At night I was able to lie in my sleeping place over the gooseneck of the trailer and observe John in his various sleeping postures: standing, down with chin resting on ground, down flat out with all legs sticking straight out, etc. I woke up about every hour to observe him until about 5 a.m. the first night when I opened my loving eyes to observe: no horse!
Panic, heart pounding, I clamber down out of my sleeping loft and by "clamber" I mean crash down into the dogs' water bowl and various other objects, scramble for clothes, project myself out the door, only to see a calm horse in the dawn light 5 feet from me. John looked up like, Oh, are you awake too?
He had somehow slipped out of his halter, which was hanging by the leadrope from the tie line. So it wasn't my knot coming undone, which I always expect.
later that day I was telling someone about it and I said, "There was John, standing naked eating, just as calm as you please." And someone who had overheard this said, "Which guy is John?" Thinking I was describing a man who was perhaps inebriated, which would be entirely plausible because some people interpret horse camping as PARTAAY!! Which is fine; they are usually sooo tired from riding that they can only drink and holler until about 10 p.m. and then everyone staggers off.
One young couple got engaged on this trip, and they were sort of cute but sort of odd too. They talked a lot about having sex while out on a trail ride, in fact the very ride where they got engaged. They pointed out deer stands where they had 'done it', and these were flimsy platforms up in trees with no sides to them. The groom-to-be was very quiet, and looked dumbstruck, like a dump truck of sex had backed up beeping into his life and begun unloading, and it is impairing his judgement. The bride-to-be was a YEEHAW rider, a type I have met before on these trips.
YEEHAW riders like to run their horses down steep embankments while shouting Yeehaw; they like to gallop off and gallop back doing the same; they believe their horses require stern discipline, whupping and cursing. Can you tell how much I love these people?!
But the most fun thing about these MTRA trips is all the diverse horse people. and all the beautiful horses. Here's a picture of two cute Appy butts for PonyGirl:
And here are some more fellow riders:
These two matching Tennessee Walker mares were so cute; their owners were wife and husband and had matching pommel bags, boots, saddles, everything. Here's the head of one of their mares so you can see the prettiness:
It was quite a time! John did his rushing downhill and close following tricks, showing me we have some things to work on, but he refused nothing: deep water crossings, heavy brush crossings, down trees, deep mud, ATV's, nothing fazes him. I feel so lucky to have him in my life, and so humbled by his generous heart. I'm not worthy.
But after 3 days of this I was so ready to come home and take a shower!! The buildup of bug spray, sunscreen and dust is aggravating after awhile. And Johnny was thrilled to get back to his green pasture - he left me holding my treat at the gate - he was so done! - and pranced out into the evening sun looking like King Horse, shaking his mane.
Happy Memorial Day! Hope everyone has a chance to relax and think and enjoy their horses too.