Friday, October 3, 2014

A Puzzling Encounter

I took Bombay for a walk in the desert to get my exercise and to use the time to come up with a new title for my novel.  Last year I had searched on the title I was going to use and was happy to see that no other author had already used it.  But apparently I took too long to write the dang thing, because just recently someone published a book with the same title, and it's a book that I do not want people to confuse with mine.

Bombay is usually the perfect walking partner, but today he was being a pain in the butt, randomly stopping and refusing to budge.  Of course, he only did that when we were moving away from the barn.  At times he had legitimate reasons to stop, but other times he just seemed to be jerking me around.  We did flush a few coyotes out of the brush.  One of them was big and fat -- the physique of a successful hunter.  It stared us down, so I gave my most obnoxious coyote howl, which usually scares them off.  This one didn't run away, so I pointed at it and said, "I see you!"

Still, it stood its ground and stared.  It was behaving as if it wasn't alone.  They're much braver in packs.  I figured the big coyote and its friends were planning on flanking and stalking us once we passed, so I turned toward it and marched right at it with Bombay by my side.  Then it ran, and the other coyotes that I suspected were hiding in the brush nearby all revealed themselves and ran away with it.

Some time later, Bombay stopped and threw his head up to point at something up ahead on the trail.  Sure enough, a couple of horseback riders were coming toward us.  Usually, if the riders are concerned that their horses might get out of control seeing a hiker or horse, they immediately cut across the desert to another trail to get away from us.  These two continued riding toward us, so I figured that they and their horses were comfortable with passing people and other horses on the trail.

I thought this would be a good opportunity to get Bombay exposed to passing strangers on the trail, and since I was leading him, I could be more effective in showing him how to behave in a dignified manner, so I stayed on the same trail.  I had to keep coaxing him forward, and he was so focused on the other horses that he took a bad step on some rocks and stumbled into my back.  I reminded him to pay attention to me.

The woman in front was riding a Quarter Horse while the man in back was riding an Arab.  I stayed on the same trail, but moved to the side to give them enough room to pass.  At the last minute, the man steered his horse around a bush on the side of the trail that I stepped off to, and his horse came to a halt and threw its head up just like Bombay did earlier.  I guess it wasn't paying attention and we took it by surprise.

The rider's mouth fell open and he looked seriously scared.  I questioned whether I made the right decision to pass them.  It was too late to move to another trail, so I said to the woman, who was closer, "Are your horses okay with other horses?"

She looked at me, but didn't respond.  A simple yes or no would have sufficed, but she seemed to be formulating some lengthy response in her head, and by the time her lips started to move, her Quarter Horse had already passed us.  I thought perhaps she didn't hear me, didn't speak English, or was on cold medication and all spaced out.  I often tune people out when I'm on drugs.

The man said, "What?"

I repeated my question, and he said, "My horse HATES other horses."

I wasn't sure what he meant by that, because what I meant was whether or not their horses get scared or overly excited upon seeing other horses, but I took his word for it and said, "Okay, I'll head away from you over to this other trail then."

The man then said, "He HATES people too."

Huh?  Maybe he meant his horse is afraid of hikers?  Or perhaps the man was projecting his own feelings onto his horse?

Then he said, "Like me.  He hates me."

Now I was really confused.  Maybe both riders were on drugs?

"I'm just kidding," he said, but his horse was clearly uncomfortable passing my horse, so I led Bombay further away.  I was kind of feeling bummed, because I was trying to teach Bombay that other horses and riders aren't going to hurt him, and there nothing to get excited about, but by leading him away, I felt like I was teaching him that there is something to worry about.

I explained, "I just know that when I ride my horses, they get all worked up whenever they see other horses on the trail, so I didn't want that to happen to you.  I was worried about your safety."

The guy softened up and said, "Nah.  It's not that bad."

Then his horse instantly relaxed and passed us.

I find it odd that often times when I strike up a conversation with other horseback riders on the trail, they get sarcastic with me, leaving me feeling like I am on the outside of an inside joke.  It's like a defense mechanism, but I'm unsure why they act defensively, because all I'm doing is being considerate and friendly.  Sometimes I think that horse people don't trust other horse people.  I'm always looking out for the best interests of other horseback riders, because I can empathize with them, but I guess some people have had bad experiences with other horse people.  I've gone to horse shows and heard plenty of catty comments in the grandstands, so I know some equestrian sports don't lend themselves to associating with a supportive crowd, but trail riding should be fairly judgement-free.

I always worry about people who get all high and mighty, cocky, or overly confident regarding their horsemanship skills, because once you bring the ego into it, you're usually headed for a rude awakening.  Horses have a way of "correcting" the attitudes of us humans just as much as we try to correct theirs, only horses can do a lot more damage.


Reddunappy said...

Thats just weird. Why do people have to be so strange.

achieve1dream said...

Uhh that is strange... I've never had anyone act like that before but I'm really oblivious and overly enthusiastic so maybe I'm the weird one lol!!!!!