Story Sunday: A Horse Named Cash, 3.
Big, Sturdy, Strong & Willing. The perfect guide horse.
The Summer of 2012 was a big one for me, I'd been kinda-sorta-maybe thrown into a high leadership role that I wasn't entirely ready for. To make the situation worse, I got the role because a mentor of my own had left in a blaze of anger a few months before. It was causing a lot of uncomfort for a lot of people, including myself. I needed to have a good summer, I felt the need to prove to myself, as well as others, that I could do this job.
At the start of the summer all of the counsellors descended on the Ranch for "Orientation", which includes two days of riding. The first day is meant to get the counsellors comfortable in being back in the saddle, to talk to the new-counsellors about things and get a feel for where they are at horsemanship-wise. We also touch on scenarios that could happen during the average week at camp, the new counsellors are suppose to "deal" with what is going on in the way they would when camp begins.
Well... they got themeslves a scenario.
I had decided that two of my most dearest, closest friends, Marley and Brigitte, would ride two of the more fresher horses that the Ranch had. Wiggles, a younger colt with atleast two years of pretty solid experience, but a winter off, and Tom, an ex-stud who was a big 'ol nervous chicken, but again, had a lot of riding time from the summer before. The girls were game, I put them in my group, and away we went. The group was pretty small, and when we got to the same aforementioned field from my last post, a nice, solid loping field, I told the group we'd go for a trot and perhaps pick up the speed if everyone was comfortable. We were trotting along and everything was great, people were smiling, the horses looked nice and content, I began to pick it up into a lope, when Marley on Wiggles, hit a bit of a dip in the field. Wiggles took his opportunity and rooooooodeeooooo bucked, it was insanity. Wiggles is a little 14.2 midget paint, and let me tell you, he put on quite the show. Marley almost had him, but he got the best of her, and she fell straight on her side. Wiggles, now riderless, literally looked around like a bull in a mexican bull-fight ring and went straight for our resident chicken - big 'ol Tom. Tom took one look at Wiggles careening towards him, and took off like a bat out of hell. Brigitte came right off too.
You could say... it was a complete and utter mess.
My younger counsellors had no idea what to do, or say, and for the most part you could tell they wanted to get the heck off their horses. My two best friends had just gotten pile-drove into the dirt, one was having a hard time breathing, and the other was having a hard time moving... oh goodie. I felt terrible, I had thought both horses would be okay, I had never, ever envisioned Wiggles doing something like that. (I had ridden him quite a bit two years beforehand, and Marley rode him pretty much exclusively all last summer, as well as my now-gone mentor who is a very talented, experienced rider and shows cutting horses) There was just something about Wiggles, it wasn't even a fresh moment, it was like a screw came loose during the summer.
Brigitte and Marley picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and we all meandered home. It was awful. Cash, however, was an allstar the entire time, he was exactly where I needed him to be, when I needed him to be, and for that, I was very grateful.
Coming off the low of the first ride of the season, the next day, we decided to all stay together as a big group, other riding leaders and experienced counsellors were with me. I was laying low... my head hung a bit low in shame. However, we went on a lovely, long ride, spirits were high and the counsellors were fantastic. Cash, however, was still crossing rivers like an absolute doofus - but I was used too it by now and didn't mind much.
We came to a particularly high crossing, I had been meandering back and forth amongst the counsellors giving advice and chatting. I found myself right in the middle of the pack as we single-filed through the river, the horses infront of me were making there way up a very nice, slightly muddy incline. The horse ahead of us pinned his ears and went to bite Cash and so I stepped aside and gave him his room.
As we stood in the water I noticed Cash looking at a part of the bank that was very... cliff-like. It was probably 7-8 feet up from the water, with some tree roots poking out from the exposed earth. I smiled, thinking, I wonder if he thinks he could get up that thing? Not a second after the thought crossed my mind I found my ever willing guide horse launching and lurching up the cliff. We went up and I felt his back legs cave under due to the mud. I heard yelling. I threw my reins up his neck, giving him his head and kicked and kicked, and kicked. I grabbed the horn, at this point I was legitimately vertical on my horse, who was also vertical to a mud-wall. He lurched in the mud, his knees sank on top of the bank, I felt us slowly go backwards. We were tumbling. I heard peopled yell, "GET OFF OF HIM", the only thought crossing my mind was that my new saddle was on his back and I really didn't want him to wreck it. I slid off, reins still in my hand, my boots filled with water as I sunk down into the river.
I watched the Big Yellow Horse lurch off of the cliff and land beside me with a thud in the water. He scrambled back up and looked at me with his big soft eyes. It was as if he was saying, "I thought you wanted us t go up there, why are we both wet in this river now?" I sighed and let go of the reins and he clambered up the softer area of the bank. I stumbled my way out of the river behind him, every-bit a drowned river rat.
Those dang new counsellors, I had sure given them shows the past two days, they all looked at me wide-eyed as I emerged from the bank. Once we were on dry and flat land, I surveyed Cash to make sure he was okay. He had come down pretty hard on those knees of his. He was fine, not a single scratch was had. He had literally acted like a cat trying to claw it's way up a drape. Oblivious to the worried looks I was being given, I emptied my boots that were completely full of water and began to roar laughing at what a spectacle I was. Cash sheepishly watched me, head hung low. I gave him a big pat on the neck, and hopped back on.
He let out a big sigh, as if to say, "Well, that's over and she's back on, so we must be okay,"
and, we were.