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Arena Games and an Oldfashoned Drenching

Posted by greygelding , 27 September 2017 · 24 views

Mayo was a smart one and he quickly picked up on the silly games I made up. It helped that each game involved carrots. The first game he learned I called carrot tag. Standing at one end of the arena he would run up and take a bite of carrot, I would make a motion, like throwing a frisbee, and he would race away, then stop, and after another signal he would came racing back where the whole procedure would begin anew. Pam would sometimes join in, standing at the other end of the arena, and he would race from one to the other. Carrot chase is just what it sounds like and I would run around and through obstacles until he caught up to me for his reward. My favorite game to watch was carrot jump. I set up a couple of small jumps and after pointing at one he would jump it and circle back for his bite of carrot.
He seemed to enjoy it when I would bring a folding chair into his stall and sit with him. If I brought my lunch he would make every attempt to spill my drink and scatter my food. If I was reading a book it would be taken from me abruptly and the keys from my laptop computer would be stripped from the keyboard. My rule was if I bring something into his home it became fair game. He never was reprimanded for doing something to an item I had no business bring into his stall in the first place. This broke up the boredom of his day and I came up with several defensive strategies to prolong the survival of my personal items. In the arena I would sometimes sit against the fence in the shade. He would first throughly inspect me for carrots, then he would stand quietly over me as if keeping watch. On a lazy afternoon I would occasionally drift off for a short nap and upon awakening I would find him, standing there with his head lowered almost touching me, while he was taking a nap as well.
Some people will argue that horses don't have emotions but I've found that it's the opposite. They are capable of likes, dislikes, love, hatred, anger, and all the rest. They also will show an amazing memory and when they find a lost love they will display it as well. One day in the arena, Mayo and I were playing our usual carrot games when a boarder, a girl with waist long hair, asked if she could cross the arena. "No problem." I replied. As she started across, Mayo took one look, drew himself up as tall as he could and with a nicker he trotted straight toward her. She, like most people when a strange horse approaches, was worried about his intentions. "Don't worry, he won't hurt you" I said but this was something totally new for him. She stopped and as he drew close he stopped, sniffed the air, and then just deflated. He slowly turned around and with what looked like dejection he walked slowly back to me. Somewhere in his past he had a connection with a girl, a lot like her, who was the love of his life.
One Sunday morning I arose early to attempt to get in a trail ride on Mayo before it started to rain. Pam just rolled over muttering "You're crazy." and went back to sleep. I dressed in layers with long johns as the inner layer so I might get wet but I would be warm. With Mayo loaded in the trailer, we headed out to Point Reyes to explore a new trail. It was a very light rain when we started down the trail. Mayo was in fine form and was mixing a trot with a little bit of a canter. I allowed him to stop when he wanted to sightsee or grab a quick bite of grass and the two of us were having a great time. After a mile and a half or so the trail entered some sand dunes at the beach. It had begun to rain lightly now but neither of us cared. As we went bit farther down the trail it emerged from the dunes and I got my first view of the ocean. To my surprise I was unable to see very far. Looking at the ocean there was a black curtain in the distance. Realizing that it was a rainfall unlike any I had seen before, I knew it was time to get out of there. Turning him around to head home didn't work as expected. He turned a smooth 380 degree spin and continued on the ride. This time I stopped him and turned him around with exactly the same result. He really wanted to keep going but on the third try I had him reluctantly heading toward the trailer. He didn't want to canter and his trot was a nice easy jog. There was no way we could beat the oncoming downpour to the trailer. At about the halfway point of the trail I became aware of the sound of heavy rain behind us. Turning to look back I could not see the sand dunes or the end of the trail. At that time Mayo stopped and turned his full attention to the drenching heading our way. He made an instant decision that he didn't want anything to do with something like that and at my request he was off like a shot. I could see that even at this speed we would get to the trailer at about the same time as the downpour. It was now really raining on us but nothing like what was coming.
We skidded to a stop at the trailer and I jumped out of the saddle. I quickly haltered him on a long lead and stripped the gear off him and tossed it inside the tack compartment of the trailer. As it started to rain harder, Mayo went around to the back door of the trailer and was frantically pushing it with his nose. You could almost hear him say "LET ME IN! OPEN UP!" Hurriedly I untied him and open the back if the trailer. He shot up the ramp skidded to a stop, took a very deep breath, and then let out a loud audible sigh. Meanwhile I was outside where the full force of the rain came down. In an instant I was a drowned rat as I secured the trailer, fumbled with the truck keys, and finally made it into the truck. I removed my helmet, looked in the mirror, and saw that only the top of my head was dry. I was throughly soaked and small lakes of water filled my shoes. Mayo was safe, warm, and happily munching his food in the trailer while I was soaked and hungry, but I couldn't help but smile. After all it was just another typical day in the saddle for me. No wonder Pam didn't want to come along.




October 2017

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