For the remainder of my time at Indian Grove Riding Stable I continued working with Smokey who got a little better everyday and I started to ride Big Mac. The dun had a large fat deposit on both sides next to his shoulders. He was obese and I quickly needed to get him into riding shape.
I began going out onto Aaron’s trails riding Mac and ponying Smokey. It was a gorgeous area in the desert, full of sagebrush and flanked by a large lake on one side and a stunning rock-face mountain on the other. Oh, and it was plagued with rattlesnakes.
On our first ride out Mac jumped to the right when he neared a sagebrush plant that ominously started to rattle. In the base of the bush, a rattlesnake sat coiled, ready to attack. Luckily we continued on unhurt.
I first started ponying Smokey with just the pack saddle on his back and later with the panniers. The first day I put the panniers on him he freaked out badly. He ran circles around me and bucked and tossed his head. Eventually, he realized they weren’t going to kill him and he stopped.
On a chilly afternoon, we lead the horses into Aaron’s trailer and took them to a big open field. For the first time I would ride Smokey outside of the safety of panels.
“Lets see if you broke this horse or not,” Aaron said with a big smile before I climbed on.
I was nervous but I trusted my little grey was ready. The night before we had done the same thing but Aaron had ponied Smokey with me on top. When we started out he wanted to run off and wouldn’t stop freaking out. But after we climbed a steep and long hill, he followed Aaron’s big paint horse quietly.
I quickly climbed on him with his head facing me, my left rein held tight, and while he turned circles I sat on his back. When I had both feet in the stirrups, I straightened him out and asked him to whoa. I waited for everyone else to get on their horses and we began walking.
“I think we have a broke horse here,” Aaron said looking out at me like a proud father.
I was as proud as he was. This was the first time I trained a wild horse—and in a very short time span too. Smokey had come a long away from the first day I met him.
Eventually we galloped our horses around the spacious hay field while I smiled big. Everything was going well until I looked back and saw that Clara was about to fall off of Big Mac. The tall dun spooked with something in the grass and threw her off balance. As she slid down from the saddle, at a full gallop, I thought to myself, “don’t get hung up, don’t get hung up.”
Clara hit the grass hard as Mac kept running. I saw everything in slow motion, my heart trying to commit suicide by jumping out of my mouth. Luckily, her foot came out of the stirrup. I got off Smokey and ran to her side. She was stunned, tears filled her eyes and she couldn’t talk. But after a few minutes we realized she was okay. It was just a scare.
Smokey was a broke horse! Clara was okay! We were almost ready to start our drive to Alaska!