Sun Pony Ranch

Diary of novice (clueless) ranch owners

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Van Visits

Monday my -- well, my cousin's daughters, whatever that makes them to me -- came through Colorado and stopped for a visit. They have been road-tripping through the US this summer, paying their way by doing digital photo work for friends, family and anyone who will pay them along the way. Very Cool Idea! They stayed through this morning, and I hope our portion of their grand tale is as entertaining to others as so many of their experiences have been to us.

They had a unique stay with us, actually, in terms of what is 'normal' for us. They showed up just as a custom group horse lesson was getting underway. This was a lady who had her whole family coming in for a reunion of sorts, so she had 5 grandkids from 10-15 who wanted to go out and ride horses. Well, stables just don't do that much anymore due to insurance hassles. It's just too risky to give a stranger a horse and say 'have fun'! Never the less, income is highly desireable to us right now, so Ginger offered to give them a group lesson and if the kids did well she'd take them out on a trail ride around the property.

Well, they showed up with 2 additional kids -- who were each 6. With my help Ginger decided we could throw them up on some leadline horses and not include them in the trail ride. WHY don't we ever learn? These kids were all beginners, so the arena immediately turned into mass havoc. One of the 6 year olds started having an alergic reaction to something so his eye was all red and swollen and running. I called Dave and asked him to bring down some saliene to wash out his eye with. By the time we got that squared away he was too nervous to get on the horse. We eventually got him up to just sit there, but even that didn't last too long. The 10 year old knew something about horses -- but it was mostly enough to make her afraid of them. She asked to switch horses to Shoni, which required a swap of saddles. The other 6 year old actually did pretty well, until later when she started driving me crazy.

Finally we'd had several turns around the arena, doing basic steering and a little trotting, Ginger took 4 of them out. The 10 year old and 6 year old girl stayed in the arena with me. The 10 year old actually started to get the hang of things. I felt bad because I was wrestling so much with Harley that I wasn't able to give her much advance notice on my instructions -- so it ended up being -- "OH! Turn left NOW and then go around that barrel to the right." It wasn't pretty, but on the other hand she started doing it, so I guess she was learning.

Harley, on the other hand, was making a total pill of himself. He got so upset that the other horses left the arena he surely wasn't going to do anything for that little girl. So I kept having to haul on his bridle, which is not an ideal way to lead a horse. Finally I told her I had to take the reins over his head to be able to lead him. That worked GREAT -- from my perspective. No so much from hers. "Do you think I can have the reins back now?" Well - maybe, we'll give that a try. As soon as I put the reins over -- he'd stop and turn to look where he could hear the other horses, and start whinnying. At least she thought it was funny to sit on a horse while he whinnied. So I hauled on the bridle, dragging him around the arena, and pretty soon - "I think he's walking by himself now!" Um, no, in fact he isn't, but we can try. Sure enough - he stops and turns to stare at where ever the trail group was now. What a ding dong. And of course - during all this I was trying to watch the other girl and think of intersting patterns to instruct her to steer Shoni through.

So, Laura and Nina got to watch this whole process. They said it was entertaining. I thought it was kind of them to be so generous, LOL.

The 10 year old actually may come back for a week of camp since she lives in the area, so once again, we can't say it was a total loss!



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