Sometimes a short step away from the daily humdrum is all it takes to rejuvenate one. That is what we did as we nestled into Mother Nature’s arms with hot tea, scrambled eggs and a view of a scenic lake with some of our friends. As we saw sign-posts for Lucerne and Nice, I told the children about how beautiful Lucerne in Switzerland was and there, I saw a sign-post saying, “Welcome to Lucerne – The Switzerland of America” I am not sure what the sign meant, but it was enough to get us laughing. The Switzerland of America is not a happening place.
On the way back, we decided to go in for a horse riding adventure. Well, as far as adventures go, I am not sure Throttle, Stud, Mary, Peanut and Hummer could provide much, for they were the sweetest, gentlest horses I ever met. Not that I hobnob with horses much, my equine knowledge ranks somewhere along with acupuncture pressure points – which is to say negligible. But the daughter is a great fan of all things equine and so, there we were, 4 children, a friend and I, taking a saunter on a ranch with horses. The husband was staying behind with the son.
It is true that I am not one of those effervescent animal lovers. I love reading about them, I like being around them if they are tame enough and keep their distance from me and I would hate to see any kind of cruelty directed toward them, but there you are. I don’t cuddle and nuzzle up with dogs, I don’t frisk about with cats. I patted my horse with the same reserve. I was told his name is Stud. He was a tall, chestnut colored horse with gentle eyes. I asked the trainer if he is mischievous, for I have not the faintest idea as to what I will do if the horse decides to ‘take off.’ I was assured that tall and hulky as he is, he is as gentle as a lamb and wouldn’t run if I wanted him to. (I had no idea then how prescient those words were.) I patted him with a sigh of relief, for though I am not friendly with very many lambs to know the extent of their gentility, I do like them. I can now say truthfully that I made eye-contact with a Stud and he reciprocated with a gentle nod of the noggin. I was moved, and when moved I resort to saying things like ‘Come on dear! That is lovely dear.’ The husband thought I was referring to him and looked up quizzically, but I shoo-ed him off. I had another Stud to attend to. An equally gentle, calm stud albeit silent. Silent but communicative hloke.
We learnt the basics of steering a horse and getting it to turn left and right and so on and set off. Me, on my dear Stud, and the others on theirs. As long we were on the dirt track, there was no problem at all. Stud kept a steady pace and walked happily enough. The lady who was guiding our little procession (let’s call her Equena shall we?) then decided to take us on a bit of a wilderness saunter and off she went from the dusty path. Stud was all enthusiasm and snorted and neighed affectionately as he made after her. I was glad too – I like flowing rivers and green meadows spotted with wildflowers. I was just getting into the steady rhythm of bumping along and taking in the scenes, when the bumping-along stalled. I looked down to see what the matter was. Stud had made for a succulent grass patch and refused to budge. His nostrils were flared, his eyes drooling and he was tugging at the grass. “Come on dear. Now now. “ I said. But for all the attention Stud paid me, I could have been talking to the grass. I nudged him subtly. By now, our little troop of troopers had gone ahead on their horses, while mine was eating heartily.
Equena turned around after a few minutes and saw what I was grappling with. “Well – give him a strong one on the sides and make him move.” she said. I gave him a feeble one, and Stud showed me who is horse and grazed on.
“Umm..maybe he is hungry, should I let him eat first?” I asked her.
Now, I shall divulge a small nugget of equestrian wisdom: Never let on that you are not in control of your horse to others. Only your horse should know that.
Equena snorted disbelievingly. Stud snorted sincerely. I was sitting there thinking that I could really do with some snort-training, when Equena came up to me and said. “Honey! Look at me. “ I did.
“Not you! The horse.” she said and continued. “Let’s get on shall we?”
“Now honey!” I was working hard at keeping my gaze away. It is the polite thing when your Stud is getting a dressing down in public, what?
“I am now talking to you honey.” she said pointing at me. I looked at her obediently. “You are in charge of the horse. Don’t slacken for him. He has just been eating his fill in the barn. He doesn’t need any more grass. Show him who is in control!” she said.
Her words inspired me. Stud was in for it. I was going to show him who was in control. “Come come my dear! “ I said kicking it gently. Then, I kicked a little harder. Stud gazed up at this newfound discipline and shrugged – I know what you are thinking. I can see your skeptical eyes boring into me telling me that horses don’t shrug. But I tell you they do. Especially a horse who is deciding whether to act like a mule or a respectable horse. He thinks – shall we have some fun with this novice rider, or shall we go on and lure her into a false sense of control? I know this part of the thinking process so well. Being a mother makes you sense these sort of things in a jiffy. Luckily for me, the gentle soul that Stud is, decided to lure me into a f.sense of c.
The rest of the trail was spent in variations of the following:
Come on dear
That is quite enough you’ve had to eat
Please please! No need to eat now. Let us go.
Go on. Go on dear. I will let you eat plenty in a few minutes.
Don’t graze now. You just ate a tuft of grass.
When we finally tumbled back to the barn, I had had quite enough with the food talk. The husband was standing there and smiling in exactly the same way that Stud smiled when tugged away from the grass.
“You guys hungry? There is a Mexican restaurant that doesn’t look like much – but the food is pretty good.” said the husband by way of greeting us.
“How did you know that?” I asked.
Stud shrugged. I mean: the husband shrugged. I truly am getting the stud and husband confused, aren’t I?
“So what do you say? Shall we go now, or after dismounting the horses?” he said with another Stud-like grin.
I like gentle souls. Especially, those who lure me into having an illusion of control. “As soon as we dismount the horses.” I said firmly, the light of decision-making gleaming upon my shoulders.