Okay, BFFs (Blessed Friends Forever), will the cowgirls among us raise their hands?
You may not’ve noticed, but my hand’s not up.
That’s because it’s busy rubbing lineament on my saddle-sore rump.
When my 6-year-old grandprincess, Bree, hit the little girl right-of-passage of being smitten with unicorns a month or two ago, and then promptly decided to be a cowgirl for Halloween, I decided I’d surprise her with a real horseback ride (not the kind where the frowning lady dressed like a cheap clown holds the reigns and leads you around in a tiny circle). The obviously perfect time for this exciting venture was when she was visiting Pop-Pop and me in our Smoky Mt cabin. Yep. Sure sounded great in my head.
So I called around and found a nearby stable (whoa, horsy – they’re all surprisingly $$$) and signed her up for a one hour trail ride that includes fording a perky creek. Perky creek. That’s what they called it. Right. In October. In the mountains. What was I thinking?
But then they told me she had to have adult companionship so I went ahead and signed up Bree’s mother and twin brother too while I was at it. Ah, it’s only money, right? (cough, hack)
Bree’s not-happy mother (my daughter Cricket) reminded me in no uncertain terms about her previous horseback riding fiascos, one of
which occurred in January in Montana when her mount decided he was sick and tired of high-stepping through two feet of snow and took off like a wild Mustang toward the nice warm barn, where Cricket was forced to do a backbend in the saddle to avoid decapitation from the low barn door threshold. Fun times.
The other incident occurred when she was riding along with a teen girlfriend (who owned both horses) out on a country road when a carload of hormonal teenage boys drove by and honked their horn like brainless dingbats. This caused Cricket’s startled horse to rear like the Lone Ranger’s Trigger and tear off out of control down the road. Cricket’s saddle somehow gave way during his crazed flight and slid underneath the horse, suspending Cricket upside down, as she tried to keep her head from dragging the ground while desperately avoiding death by four flailing horse hooves.
And I’d just signed her up for another thrilling equine adventure. [Insert daughter death stare here.]
Just then Bree gazed at me with those amazing liquid brown eyes and cooed, “But Mimi, I want you to go with me too!”
Um … no. I’m sixty-something, sweet girl. Grannies shouldn’t straddle anything bigger than a licorice stick. [Insert adorable granddaughter begging look here.} Since I simply cannot resist that line of reasoning, I signed me up too. Against my better judgement knocking craters in the plaster of my good sense.
So on the day of the big ride, we arrive at the stables and sign in. I request the oldest and tiredest horse available. NOT one named Fireball or Lightning. The cute 20-something cowgirl starts bringing the saddled horses out to their riders and mine ends up being called … wait for it … Doober. Yep. Doober. Debbie’s on Doober. Swell. I was hoping for a Sunshine or Twinkle. But I got Doober.
So off we go. Down the trail and into the woods, like we might have a clue what we’re doing.
To their credit, Bree and Brey did great – once they got the hang of it, they handled their steeds like old cowhands, even directing them through deep mudholes and skinny uphill passes the horses weren’t at all keen on traversing.
I was actually proud that poor ole bow-backed Doober was cooperating and we were keeping up with the group pretty well, until we got to the river. Now hear this – it wasn’t just a creek or a mountain stream like I expected. It was a dadgum river. A RIVER. A body of moving water far enough across that you couldn’t throw a rock across. It was impressive enough to even have a name: The Little Tennessee River. But from my perspective, there was nothing little about it. Gulp.
I don’t know who was least excited about this massive river crossing, Doober or me, as we stood staring down at the freezing brisk current from the hilly bank. The cowgirl in charge said to get along, big dogie, so I gave Doober a little kick in the sides like I’d been told to start his engine. He just stood there. So I nudged him a little harder. Nothing. I poked him good and all he did was poop a big steaming pile in reply. Plop.
Finally, with a little booty prod from the chief cowgirl, reluctant Doober half slid down the steep bank and into the frigid water. But instead of following everyone else through the shallow part of the river where he would have only been shin-deep, he cocked his head back to make eye contact with me with a wicked grin on his horsey face as he moved steadily deeper and deeper until the water was halfway up his belly.
Now I’ll admit that I don’t know much about horses, but I’m positive that Doober knew exactly what he was doing. Misery loves company; if I have to get wet, so do you, annoying human. I raised my feet in the stirrups up as high as I could to keep them above the water level, but my poor, tortured sixty-something abs weren’t steel enough to hold those puppies up in a V-up for the 10+ minutes that spiteful horse dragged us down
the river. So into the drink went my shoes and socks and jeans half-way up my leg. Brrr. Let me tell you, it was COLD. Mountain cold.
And if that weren’t enough, Doober intentionally kept slinging icy water up on me with his tail – whap, whap, whap – so by the time we exited the river, I was sodden from top to bottom. I was a shivering cowMimi, yes I was. And Doober appeared to take special delight in my icicle status.
But the good news is, the twins loved their horsy adventure and Bree now says she wants to be a real cowgirl when she grows up.
Fine by me. As long as she doesn’t make Mimi and Doober come along for the ride.
So share with us your equine adventures, dearest BFF! I’ll bet some of you have some doozies.