My brother Zak, the youngest in our family, had gotten a cranky pony of his own. Her name was "Duchess" and she was as wide as she was tall. Zak didn't really want a mare pony..he was hoping for a gelding so he could name it the name he wanted, and when it didn't quite work out like that, he went ahead and named his fat little female pony "THUNDER BOY" anyway. So, my sister Kim, who was a "delicate" little thing kept teasing that she also wanted to go riding with Zak and I. The problem was we only had Duch..err Thunder Boy, my horse Angel and her 4 year old filly Flicka. Now, I had been working with Flicka, and she was well on her way to being trained. So, I figured for a nice slow ride down to the powerline, I would ride Angel (I was the only person that could ride her), zak would take his pony, and Kim would ride Flicka.
So, we all went out to the barn, and I was a wonderful instructor. I showed my eager younger siblings how to brush the horses correctly, and how to apply fly spray, then finally I helped them get all saddled up. We led the horses out of their stalls and walked out into the pasture. I helped Kim get up on Flicka, and Zak straddled his fat steed, and I walked over to open the gate that lead down through the woods toward the powerline.
As I was opening the gate, Flicka was getting a bit excited at the prospect of a ride. She started to act a bit sassy, throwing her head, turning around and just generally acting excited. I told Kim, "don't pull her head up too much..let her have a little rein." Zak and his pony stood beside Angel as I swung open the gate. When the gate creaked open, Flicka spooked a little bit, and Kim, not being the MOST experienced rider, yelled. Well, that did it. I knew our ride was over, before it really began. Flicka started to trot along the fence line. Kim was bouncing up and down, weakly pulling back on the reins, and almost whispering "whoa..whoa." Me, being the pro here, started to holler out directions. "Let go of that saddle horn and use both hands to pull back!"
Kim, of course, ignored the wise coaching from the side lines and continued to bounce along, as Flicka made a nice slow turn, and headed along the edge of the woods. Now Flicka wasn't out of control, or mean, or even trying to get rid of Kim. She was merely trotting along the woods, enjoying her day. "Whoa, Will you please whoa? " came my sister's plaintive voice. One more time, I hollered to her, "Kim! Let GO of that saddle horn, and pull her up!"
Well, it was not meant to be. In what seemed to be slow motion, Flicka casually trotted along the treeline, where she ducked under a low pine branch, and, you guessed it, Kim didn't. Whap! Kim did a really nice somersault off the back of the horse and crashed to the ground. If I was an Olympic judge, that dismount would have been a 10! At this point, Zak had slid off the pony, and was standing beside me. According to him, I sighed heavily, passed him Angel's reins, and said "I'll be right back." I started to walk over to where Kim lay in a heap, and I think I had started in on the old saying about "getting right back up on a horse when you fall off etc", when Kim staggered to her feet, and said those words I always hated to hear. " I'm going to go tell mother," and then she bolted for the house. Great, just great.
I knew our ride was over for sure now, so I told Zak we might as well go back and unsaddle the horses. We lead them back to the barn, and I had just taken Flicka's saddle off, when I heard the dreaded call I had been expecting. "Carmen!! Get in here"! Great, just great. Zak said, " Don't worry, I'll finish down here". Dead teenager walking.
I headed up to the house and got the tongue lashing I knew was coming. "Why did you put her on that horse?? She doesn't ride horses...What were you thinking!" Then I was sent to my room. As I walked into the living room, I saw my sister Kim, or, as I thought about calling her that day "Benedict Arnold", laying on the couch, an ice pack on the big ole goose egg on her forehead. She looked pale and had the barf basin on her chest. I shot her my best look of disgust, and planned on being mad at her for a long time. But then, she said, as I rounded the corner to go up the stairs, " I was going to come back out and try riding again, but mother wouldn't let me." I decided I shouldn't be mad at her after all, but, I am fairly sure that was the last time we all went for a "ride" together.
Zak and I went out together a few times though. He liked hanging out with his big sister. I just liked watching to see what the pony was going to pull this time. Thunder Boy was a fat Shetland cross pony, with all the manners of, well, a fat Shetland cross pony. She was stubborn, crabby, and very strong willed. My brother was skinny, optimistic, and not as strong willed as the pony. She would do exactly what she wanted, and I remember the time she pulled an old pony trick out of her hat and gave Zak a big surprise, and me, a good laugh.
We were once again headed down through the woods to the powerline. I was riding Angel, and leading the way. Zak and Thunder Boy were moseying along behind us, nice as you please. Since she was doing so well, I said " Wanna try a trot?" He smiled a big ole smile, and said " Yeah!" So, I loosened up Angel's reins and she broke into a nice smooth trot. I looked back, and Zak and the pony did too. I thought, "boy this is going great." She showed no signs of crabbiness on this day, so I hollered back " How about a canter,? Ready?" " Yeah!" came the enthusiastic response.
I squeezed Angel a little and she broke into her nice smooth canter. I looked back and Zak and the pony were cantering along as good as you please. I turned and Angel went a bit faster. We rounded the corner and pulled up at the entrance to the powerline to wait for Zak. I heard the thundering of Thunder Boy, and smiled as I waited for them to come around the corner. Suddenly, the pony came into view, stirrups just a bouncing up and down against her sides. The stirrups, and saddle were empty.
|Not a fat pony, but a nice Ex race horse for this farm kid!|