I officially left for my ride on May 8th 2016. Sunday. Mother's day. Interesting...
I was at a trainers, Terry Layer, and she was telling me that a horse has a mentality of a 7 year old. I am his mother now. I need to act like one. I am not his friend. If I am not strict and firm he will hurt himself or get us into trouble. I've been talking about wanting kids lately and here I am, on mothers day, riding my 7 year old out of the city.
Here we go! We left Savannah! Finally! hahaha After trips to trainers, sleeping in a field for weeks, and practice trips on highways....we finally left. I took Bow into the city to stay at the Savannah Historic Carriage Tour Company so he could get used to the city noises. Lucky for us his stall was right near some train tracks. Desensitization lesson for free! He got to hear trains go by every few hours which will hopefully keep me from getting bolted on when we are out in the world by some tracks. We were walking by a busy street and a city bus came by and woohoo! He jumped out of the way and started prancing around. Prancing is fine as long as it's not into traffic. So, we went to a busy corner and sat there for awhile and let buses go by from every direction. He calmed down after awhile and got used to it. Poor guy, used to the quiet country and then dropped in the city!
I was sitting by his stall at the carriage company and this girl came up and asked why there was a tiny horse at the carriage company. Bow is definitely not tiny. But compared to the huge draft horses pulling carriages he seems little. We started talking and I was saying what I was doing and how Bow was having a hard time in the city and I was planning my escape from Savannah at 6 am on a sunday, mother's day, to avoid traffic. She jumped and said she was coming and she would bring friends. Her name is Jensen James. She brought her 10 yr old daughter, Scout. She also brought her friend Allison Smith, her students Cheyenne Ryan and Emily Briscoe. Jensen is their riding instructor and horse trainer. How lucky am I? A whole crew of ladies and horses. We took over an entire lane everywhere we went. We galloped around in Forsyth Park and friends met us by the fountain to say good bye. Bow was so happy to lead the group of ladies. When we got to the outskirts of the city on a back road there was a train stopped on the tracks and semi trucks coming. The horses didn't even care! We rode up and down the tracks and through the traffic and had the trucks honk their horns. I never thought my lonely ride was going to be so much fun! At the end of the day we made it to a pond and the girls rode the horses bareback into the water. Bow went swimming on his own. It was magic.
Cue day 2. Everyone is gone. Bow is the only horse. He is tired from the day before and doesn't want to leave the pasture. He won't walk in a straight line. He won't pay attention. It's already hot. His ears are straight up towards the traffic noises. It's Monday morning and rush hour. No more holiday. Trucks are rushing around 8 in a row, not letting up. We get stuck in a cross walk. He starts backing up scared of a truck coming towards us but there is a truck behind us as well. I can't get him to stand still. He is throwing his head. The truckers look worried and then keep on trucking. We run across the street at the light. I get off and lead him, feeling more secure on the ground. Big mistake. He thinks I bailed on him. I guess I did. I didn't trust him. There is no shoulder to ride on and the trucks are on the white line with us. He keeps walking sideways with his butt in the road. I can't keep going like this. I try to let him rest and eat by the road to get used to being near trucks. Wrong move again. Now he is just food obsessed. I can't get him across the street. He jerks away and throws his head in the middle of the road with trucks rushing at us. I am screaming and pulling and he won't come so I run at him and hit him in the chest to push him back so we won't get hit. I climb back on him and kick him with my spurs forcing him to run. We carry on like this for the most miserable, hot, and terrifying 8 miles. There is black mud that sucks a horses legs in and can break them, big creeks that force us back into traffic, and he is not minding me at all. I cried 3 times. I finally found a clearing off the road and tied him to a tree so I wouldn't beat him and sat down to meditate and calm myself down. My feet were vibrating. Then a green jeep pulls up. Then a red truck. Then my jeep. All at the same time! hahaha The Mayor of the town I was riding through called Jensen and told her I was having a really hard time with my horse. He brought me some water and cookies. Jensen told me there was a place to camp another mile up, did I want a ride? No way am I taking a ride. I'm finishing this damn day. I made it to where I was supposed to make it that day, just very frazzled. I told her the issue and she offered to take me to her house for a few days and train us.
We have been here for three days. She is awesome. Bow has been rearing up when we try to load him into the trailer. He actually reared so hard he fell over backwards. After working with her for a few days she can point at the trailer and say "Get in!" and he gets in by himself. He also got so scared of a plastic bag blowing in the wind that he backed into a busy street. She tied plastic bags all over him and made him ride around with them all flapping as she was cracking a whip around his head and on the ground. So she gave me some tips on what to do if he is acting up and not minding. She whipped us into shape and we are going to the exact spot where we left a few days ago. She literally gave me a whip. I am going to cross that huge bridge that I missed the other day while cracking a whip! haha! She told me to sing to him. Another woman, Sea G. Rhyder, a lady long rider from the LongRiders Guild, also told me to sing to him. When a scary truck comes to just laugh really loud and tell them to honk their horn! Apparently Bow relaxes when I act like a crazy person. So be it.