Well, do I have a heck of an update for you!
Smokey is still adorable. No news there.
First, let me start by saying that my dad and I (mostly him) spruced up my trailer and it’s pretty awesome now. The new divider is beefier and much more secure for the ponies and makes my life much better knowing they can’t get at each other or flop around willy-nilly as we go flying down the road. I’ll take pictures soon. I promise.
Related to my trailer being fixed, I decided it was time to learn to haul my pony around and go DO things instead of waste away in the arena. After a friend of mine so kindly offered to go trail riding with me and my wild man, we set plans that got moved more than once due to trailer mods-in-process, but ultimately got set for last Monday.
Monday morning, I hitched up my spankin’ new trailer and loaded up the little gray man (surprisingly easily) and rolled on down to pick up my friend Jenna and her 6 year old off the track thoroughbred (OTTB) Penny.
Sounds like a really good idea, right? Me with my one and half year out of the wild 5 year old mustang who has never been trail ridden and a 6 year old OTTB. No disaster potential there, right? Did I mention we also didn’t have a trail map. Gosh. So prepared!
Thankfully, I was confident in Jenna and Penny since they have both foxhunted and been trail riding on about a million different occasions. Oh, and Jenna is approximately as risk adverse as me, somehow. Ok, maybe not AS much, but close. Needless to say, we were both going to be wearing our helmets and had agreed far in advance that if things got silly, we were totally ok with walking.
Honestly, kind of how I saw this going…
Penny wasn’t a fan of my dinky little trailer and the second slot in the slant load, but loaded up without too much fanfare and then we were off.
The state park we went to has a privately owned stable within the park – Roosevelt Stables. Go riding there! They have awesome trails and horses for those of you who don’t have a Smokey. We parked our rig in the trailer parking across the road from the stables (which, unbeknownst to us were closed on Mondays) and tacked up. Both horses were curious and active but all in all were pretty ok with everything. I locked the truck and clipped my keys to my belt loop behind my phone (remember this for later). Once tacked, we hopped on and started across to the [presumed] trailhead. Penny led the way until we hit the woods where she wasn’t having it, so being the exceptionally brave person I am, I aimed Smokes towards the trail and goosed him. He more than happily took off into the woods at a brisk walk. You know, the kind of brisk walk that makes his mom nervous.
So we were leading and Jenna and Penny troopered along behind us with Penny now completely at ease. We crossed a creek, walked past competitive trail ride mailboxes and even walked out on a road at one point. All of this was cool with Smokey as long as it was nature. And even the things that weren’t nature were just a tightening of the reins away from being ok. A culvert to get across the creek? No problem as long as he could feel my hands. Big, uprooted tree? No problem at all. He motored along quite content to lead. I was super impressed with him.
Motoring along so fast that mom can’t take a good picture!
We came up on a big old black snake that Smokey saw slightly before I did. Much to my surprise, he just kind of turned a bit away from it and didn’t fight my ask to keep facing it too much. It slithered back into the woods pretty rapidly, so I hopped off and kicked some dirt in that general direction, walked Smokey past and hopped back on. Penny wasn’t as thrilled about the snake as Smokey. She spent a few minutes glued to Smokey’s butt shaking but recovered from it pretty quickly.
Look, I’m not a model and Smokey is only happy when he’s running over a photographer, ok?
We went about an hour out and turned around so we had plenty of time to navigate our way back to the trailer and get everyone squared away before sundown (haha). By the time we got most of the way back, I could tell Smokey was dragging. I think his feet got a bit sore on the rougher terrain with rocks and such. He is barefoot and I should have expected it, but I hadn’t really thought that through. No worries, he was still quite happy, if only a little tender.
Once we arrived at the rig, I unlocked the truck and got the keys for the trailer. We untacked and I promptly realized I couldn’t find my truck key. No worries, I’m sure it’s here somewhere. Flash forward about an hour and I’m calling AAA asking if they can make me a key for my truck. They say they can and I’ll have someone there within an hour. Skeptically, I agree and wait an hour. Call back to find they “haven’t been able to locate a locksmith in the area. Can we send a tow truck?” Keep that in mind, people. So I call probably the best mom in the world by a long shot to bring me an extra key. At 4 on a Monday when she’ll have to battle traffic in Atlanta to get 2 hours south of the city. Oh my.
After many, many shenanigans and tons of grazing and walking to get water at the stables, mom arrived to save us. Just as a storm is blowing in. Well, guess who isn’t happy with how his day went and is being a total turd? If you guessed Smokey, you guessed right.
That little butthead was not getting on that trailer come hell or high water. We tried for probably 2+ hours with everything we both knew and then some of what Google knows. Honestly, the most embarrassing thing Smokey has put me through. This on top of the fact that I had lost my key IN THE PARKING LOT. Not my day.
This is how many duplicate keys I’m going to have made
After getting to my wits very end, we decided to call the stables and beg for a stall for the night so we could get the now tired and irritated Penny (and probably Jenna, even though she was unbelievably cool with what was going on) home before it got too late. Keith from Roosevelt Stables was totally accommodating – Even when we had to call back and tell him there would be a gray horse in his round pen because he wouldn’t go into a stall in the barn. So we left that little turd with his hay bag in the round pen, loaded Penny up for about the 6th time and took off to Jenna’s barn.
The next morning, my mom and I made the trek back to the park to get Smokey. He still didn’t want to get on the trailer, but a couple solid nudges on his butt sent him up into it and we closed the door and it was FINALLY time to go home.
I did stop and go look at the barns’ resident mustang, Cachina. She’s a gorgeous dark bay and an older lady. She’s Keith’s [pregnant] daughter’s mount and he says she’s one of the steadiest horses he’s ever had. Also, let me take this time to say that the trail horses there were probably the best looking trail horses I’ve ever seen, and quite well taken care of. Everyone had a pair of Cavallo boots for riding in and they were all in great shape.
Anyway, mom and I caravanned home with Smokey occasionally voicing his discontent by pawing the escape door so much that I began to worry about how solid the latch was (it’s pretty solid). He uneventfully unloaded off the trailer and I sent him out in his paddock with the boys because I was so fried from our mis-adventure.
Well, Wednesday rolled around and my mom got a call from Keith asking if I had lost some Toyota keys. Well yes, as a matter of fact, I did. They were in the round pen!
The only two things in the round pen had been Smokey and his hay bag, so I can only conclude that either 1. Smokey ate them and then left them in a pile for Keith to find, or 2. They were in the hay bag that both Jenna and I had looked through and poked about 100 times. Either way, colored me horribly embarrassed.
I was talking to my barn owner last night about this whole thing and she said the few days after all this, Smokey wasn’t terribly keen on going in his stall and then wouldn’t eat his breakfast once he was in it. She spoils him (thankfully!) and hand fed him so he didn’t waste away. What a little diva. Hopefully a night away from the familiar did him some good and he’ll be a little more amenable to going home next time. In the interim, we’ll be doing some work on loading and unloading to make sure he’s reminded of how it works.
This is what “familiar” looks like. Half his face lost in a hay bag.
Gosh, I also had a lesson with Elisa Wallace that I need to write up and some travel plans that I’m super excited about! Look for a couple more posts this week!