On Saturday night I went with some pals to a party that was themed as the "JJJHS (J.J. Jackson High School) Talent Show. " This was actually a brilliant idea (says the girl who threw an elementary school reunion). The girls who hosted the party were serving "after school" fare, like cheeze-puffs, pizza rolls and tater tots. They turned their garage into the JJJHS auditorium and from there, hilarity ensued. Complete with a principal, band director, school announcements and the always necessary crazy art teacher who sings the Japanese national anthem, this party was actually a huge success (for something that easily could have gone really wrong).
Today I decided to finally come out of retirement and go trail riding with Chrisy and her friend Pam. I had only 2 rules for the ride:
1) The weather had to be between 60-80 degrees and sunny to partly cloudy, with light variable winds.
2) The horse needed to be lazy and not try to spook/buck/kick/rear/injure me in any way. If the horse killed me, that would be acceptable as it would save me a lot of headaches.
We headed out to Manor, which is about thirty minutes east of Austin (near Elgin, the famed veterinary hospital I used to drive to weekly). Chrisy's friend Pam lives back behind a large commercial riding stable and her next door neighbor (they're separated by about an acre) is a woman named Joan. As Chrisy put it, "It's like a horsey-Desperate Housewives back here, only there are no men in sight and...Joan is eighty." Joan has Chrisy ride her horses and had offered to let us take them out with Pat to some trails nearby. Joan's two horses are Sam, a big gangly grey horse, and Colby, an elderly, fat, stocky palomino. My kinda guy. Chrisy promised me that Colby would do no harm toward me. So, we got them brushed off and the whole time they were quite gentle.
Chrisy gets Sam ready
We then walked them over to Pam's where we loaded them up in the trailer and headed out to Bastrop where we were able to head out on the Pace Bend Trail. The weather could not have been any better and Colby was a perfect gentleman. He listened quite well to everything I told him to do, when I would say "whoa" when he wanted to go faster down a hill or if I wanted him to stop. However, his one thing was that he wanted to be able to see Sam the entire time, even if he was a good 50 meters away from him.
I brought my camera with me and got some great shots as we went along. A lot of this was thanks to Colby -- if I hadn't been on such a mild-mannered horse, this would have been way harder.
At one point, Pam turned around and said "Hey, Rachel are you ready to canter?" I thought "Eh, why not." I was a good 100 meters away from them, but I had head Colby was quite lazy and I figured I'd need some room to get him going. I prepared myself to take off at a quiet canter, like I was back at the barn, doing circles around an arena. So I called back "Sure!"
Seconds later, Chrisy and Pam were off like rockets. And old, slow Colby decided he wanted to go too. Off we went, at a pace that I believe was more equivalent to a gallop. Meanwhile, I'm trying not to get my knees knocked off on trees. Thank goodness that despite his desire to catch up with the other two, Colby was still rather attentive to what I was doing and trying to tell him.
After an exhilarating gallop through the woods, during which point I had a small gnat fly directly into my eye, we headed down to the river to let the horses splash around. And splash they did, especially Colby whom I was convinced was going to attempt to roll. However, he still did not try anything silly and was quite well-behaved in the water.
From the water, we headed back up along the bank and did another "canter" through the woods. This trail was even more windy than the first, and rather hilly. Colby decided to leap across one of the ditches which is the closest to jumping I've been since March 2006. Pretty crazy. Luckily, I saw the ditch coming, and remembered them telling me he used to jump. I knew what was next!
We wound our way up along a scenic trail, which had great views out across the hill country. I was really impressed by the entire trail system - something I didn't even know Central Texas had to offer. Sad, really -- I've never done anything quite as adventurous on a horse in all my years of riding.