"Take things for what they are, when they are"
Here was the plan (and we all know how I feel about plans):
I would go to the barn and load up Miss Thing. The hubs would take W and head to our friend, B, house which is right across the road from the trail head. While I rode they would put new brakes on hubby's car to prepare for the BIG MOVE. B's daughter, D, would watch W while we were all busy. Once finished, I would drive over and hang out with them. Simple. Easy. Clean.
Here is what really happened:
I got to the barn and began to brush Gemmie. The BM was there and we began to chit chat. I mentioned I was going to trail ride alone. She then told me that there was a girl riding on property who loves trail riding and would love to join me. Hmmm...I was about to say no when she told me that the girl had tried to ride along the busy road to the forest but never made it and was really hoping to go. Well, I figured if she was that determined to get there and I had an empty spot on my trailer, it would be mean to say no. What I forgot to do was ask how experienced she was.
The BM caught up with the girl and said she could join me. Now, if I was bumming a free trailer ride and I was barging in on someone's plans, then I would be up that person's butt ready to help in any way I could and I would be ready jump the moment that person said go. Sigh. Instead, once Gem was ready to go, I had to track her down which took about 15 minutes. I loaded Gem and looked around. Where was she? Oh. She had decided to switch tack from English to western. Why didn't she do that while I brushed out Gem? Your guess is as good as mine. Eventually she was done and
loaded her horse nicely proceeded to stare at me. I told her to load up. She told me she never had before. Oh no. I got her horse on just fine and we were finally ready to head out. This was about an hour after I would have left had I gone alone.
On the way to the Forest I stopped at B's to drop the dogs off and then we made it to the trail head. I decided to get her horse off first. I opened the trailer and went to put the lead rope on her horse so I could back her off. I told her to just wait at the back and when I said I was ready, she would lower the butt bar (preventing horse from backing up) and I would back her off. She listened and did that. Of course, she also decided to lower Gem's so that while I was backing her horse off, Gem did as well and was now loose in the parking lot. *Head. Desk*. I threw her lead rope at her and ran over to grab Gem. This was not going well.
I tacked up...or at least tried to. Trail etiquette has its own rule book, but the basics are that you stand still with your horse until everyone is ready. Why? Because horses are herd animals and I don't care how well trained your horse is, it will follow the herd. She mounted up immediately and started to ride while I tried to tack up my jittery "oh my god! I'm being left behind!" horse. Eventually it was finished and up I went and off we went.
Gem isn't a natural leader, but she can get very competitive with horses she doesn't know. As we followed the ridge top trail, the girl's horse started to trot. I was game for that as I wanted to get some conditioning in to prepare Gem for the BIG MOVE. We trotted. The trail is wide enough to ride two abreast and so I moved up next to her so we could chat. It went really, really well for all of about 1 minute. Her horse jumped over a small puddle (she informed me her horse hates water of any kind) and took off at a canter. Maybe I should have better brakes, but it was the first time out, Gem was full of herself, and she was NOT going to lose this race. She cantered. The girl was looking not so very much in control and then her horse broke into a full fledged gallop. I kept Gem at a canter, but I could tell this wasn't going to end so well with two horses racing across the ridge top. I finally told the girl we needed to slow down now. She told me she couldn't and oh by the way, this is the first time she has ever gone faster than a walk. What?!
At this point all I could see was a tangle of horse and human legs on the ground from a nasty spill, so I forced Gem to a trot hoping her horse would do the same. She didn't. I took Gem back into a canter and got ahead of her then slammed on the brakes. That worked. The girl was grinning and I was feeling pretty pissed off. My lovely trail ride was a disaster. Just as the girl was about to move I noticed her horse was missing one nice, shiny horseshoe. Perfect! I told her it was unsafe to go in just 3 shoes and convinced her to turn around. Trail ride from Hell over. No one hurt. We went a whole 2 miles and all it taught Gem was how to be out of control. How fun!
We returned to B's house to let them know and headed back to the barn. I unloaded her horse all on my own to avoid another mishap and gave her the lead rope. I then went back to get Gem. When I put Gem out, the girl was nowhere to be seen. I unloaded the tack from the trailer dumping hers in the tack room. Still no sign of her. I scooped out the horse manure from the back (both her horse's and Gem's) and still no sign of her. I backed the trailer up and unhooked it and still no sign of her. As I pulled up to head out, she finally appeared and thanked me for the ride. Maybe she had no clue what all needed done with the trailer, but she sure should have asked instead of doing whatever it was she did.
Mental note: next time, just say no.