Monday, April 21, 2008

horsing around

Finally, I bathed BEFORE the electricity went out. YEA!!

It’s been a really long time since Easter weekend but I was looking at Jason’s blog today and saw his pictures from the weekend and thought I would share a bit about it. Silly me forgot my camera in Johannesburg that weekend so I don’t have any pics but you can check out the link to his photos – he has an amazing camera and the quality of his pics are really good. Much better than mine would have turned out – so check out his blog, read up on his musings and take a look at his pictures. There is a really beautiful one titled Blowfish that is a must see.

The weekend was fun overall but the highlight and scariest part of the weekend was the horseback riding. We decided to splurge and take a 2 hour ride. The last time I was on a horse was in high school at Estes Park during a choir trip. I remember enjoying myself so I thought it would be a blast. Oh it was something, that’s for sure. I don’t remember my horses name, all I know is he was the old man of the group and the guide put me on him because he was the most tame. We were all riding stallions and the first thing the guy tells us is that when we go buy the mares, we have to reign in our horses, keep them under control because they’ll get a little crazy. And speaking of Crazy, that was the horse Jason was chosen to ride. The guide took a look at us, me, then Jeff who is tall and thin and then Jason and chose him because he said that he looked like the strongest and could probably handle Crazy.

The first little bitty stream we go over, that isn’t even 40 feet from the stable, my horse trips going over and I yelped. The next time he did the same thing and I yelped louder. The guide decided then to tell me that my horse is lazy and doesn’t like to pick up his hooves. Great. As we make our way up the mountain, going over loose stones and rocks, all along my horse is tripping and all I can imagine is him actually falling and pinning my leg underneath his 1 ton body. Not a fun image and not something that eased the butterflies in my stomach. When we stopped for our tea break half way through the ride at the top of this mountain I was grateful for the rest but worried how my horse would do going down hill.

Then there was the trotting and cantering we did. Not even 10 minutes into the ride our guide tells us to go and the horses take off. And even if we didn’t want them to, they would have because they know the trails so well. I had NO control over my body and was bouncing up and down in the saddle and must have looked utterly ridiculous because the guide finally rode up to me laughing and telling me that I looked uncomfortable. That was an understatement. THEN he chose to give us some tips about how to control our bodies when we trot and canter. I think he does that to all the riders so he can get a good laugh. Every time we tried it I was apprehensive and felt like I was going to bounce right out of the saddle. There was one last little stretch before we got back to the backpackers and I decided to try it just one last time. After about 30 seconds I decided I’d had enough tried to pull the reigns to stop my old man but he knew we were close to home and just kept going. The guide had to finally come up and cut him off so he would stop. What’s really weird is the saddles aren’t like American saddles either, there isn’t really a horn to hold on to, it’s just a lip thing that you can slip your hand partway through. I was grasping that and holding on for dear life for most of the ride.

Finally we make it back to camp and as we come in we go by the field with all the mares. As if right on cue, our stallions start to get worked up, neighing and making lots of noises. Those mares were complete hookers, coming up to the fence and putting there stuff right out there, teasing our boys. Even my old man was getting all worked up, as if he was going to get any.

We made it safe and sound back to the stable and I gladly handed the reigns over. Before the ride, I had visions of doing a pony trek through Lesotho – that’s at least 4 days on a horse going up bigger mountains than the one we went up. I had 2 hours of butterflies so I am not so sure I would be able to manage 4 days on a horse. Now that it’s been a few weeks, I’m sure I could be talked into trying it again but only if I’m promised a well behaved, non lazy horse!

That’s my tale from the weekend. It was a beautiful place and I hope to get back there for more hiking at some point. For my next adventure I’m headed down to Jeffrey’s Bay down past the Wild Coast. That exploration starts Saturday and lasts for a week so I’m sure I’ll have some more fun stories to share soon.

Sweet dreams for me now.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love your horseback riding story!!! Hold on with your legs, Girl. When he trots, stand up and sit down in the saddle against his stride so you won't be tossed around. I do think that four days in the saddle would be too much. You would really be sore then.
Love you,
Mary Alice