I'm often excusing Wally's obnoxiousness on the ground by praising how wonderful he is under saddle. He really is the best trail horse I've ever ridden. He might not be everyone else's dream trail horse, but for me, he's perfect. I love his comfortable gaits, his flashy coloring, his response to my aids and his macho attitude. I swear, sometimes he swaggers! Part of that is due to his bravery combined with a dose of curiosity. There are only a few things that upset him on the trail. One is a small house on a side street near me that is home to several flocks of fowl. Wally cannot get over his fascination with the assortment of chickens, pheasants, ducks, peacocks, geese... well, you get the idea. I'm not sure if it's the smell of the feathered fiends or the fact that as we ride past they emit a cacophony of odd clucks, quacks and screeches. Oh. And they flap their wings. A lot.
Wally also has trouble figuring out any sort of wheeled vehicle pulled by a horse or horses. Wait. Expand that to include "any sort of wheeled vehicle pulled by a donkey, mule, pony or Miniature Horse." Why? Because lately we seem to be encountering them all. I think it's because our town's annual Horseweek Parade is this Saturday and traditionally all the members of our town's driving club participate. Of course, they have to practice, and where else to do that but down the wide, quiet streets that wind through my neighborhood?
Recently I saw a Haflinger pulling a chariot. Yes, I said "chariot." Fortunately I was merely out gardening when that came by. But last weekend I was aboard Wally when he came face to face with a vintage hay wagon being pulled by a matched pair of lovely cremello geldings. The look on Wally's face was priceless! He stood his ground; he did not spook or bolt. But I could just tell he was mentally going through every object he'd ever seen in his life trying to connect the wagon to something he'd already identified. Yet since he spent all of his life before I got him-- all 6 years of it-- at a show stable or in the western pleasure show ring I'm quite certain he'd never seen equines hitched to a wagon before.
So now Wally's been introduced to horse-drawn wheeled vehicles. We can add that to our list that includes llamas, pot bellied pigs, motorcycles (still not a favorite of Wally's), garbage trucks and leaf blowers. Really, for living in a quiet, semi-rural neighborhood the trails around here are quite exciting!
Apparently I'm not the only one who has encountered some excitement on the trails. If you click on this link, you can read about other trail riding sagas on Horse Channel: Terror and Trauma on the Trail
It's part of Horse Illustrated's HI Spy series, where we ask horse lovers to share their thoughts and experiences with us. After you read that short piece, share your trail riding adventures with other Horse Channel readers by clicking on Submit a Comment at the end of the article... not here! Some of the comments will be chosen to appear in a future issue of Horse Illustrated.