Horses that live in urban environments have a very different lifestyle from those in rural areas. Urban equines have to deal with all kinds of crazy stuff that country horses will never see.
I’m guessing this is the reasoning behind some of the obstacles that appear in California State Horsemen’s Association Trail Trials. These three-hour competitive trail rides require horses to negotiate a number of obstacles that they might only see when being ridden on city trails.
I love to compete with my Spanish Mustang, Milagro, in Trail Trials. It’s a fun way to spend a day out on the trail with a buddy. Most of the time, my trail buddy is Kathy T., who rides a giant Belgian gelding named Bob.
During a recent Trail Trial, we came face-to-face with an obstacle only an urban trail rider could truly appreciate: a lemonade stand. Our task as riders was to approach the lemonade stand one at a time, stop, receive a cup of lemonade from the judge, drop a penny into a Tupperware container on a table and deposit the empty cup in a nearby trashcan. No sweat, I thought. Milagro is good about approaching things like tables, and will stop and stand politely until I ask him to move forward.
Kathy and I decided Milagro would go first on this obstacle. As she and Bob waited nearby, my horse and I approached the lemonade stand.
Milagro stopped obediently when we came up next to the table. The judge greeted me and handed me a cup. Just as I raised it to my lips to drink, Milagro spied the Tupperware container, which was half-full with pennies. Before I could do anything to stop him, he grabbed the edge of the container in his mouth and started tossing his head. Pennies were flying everywhere, landing on me, on the horse and in the dirt.
The judge reached for the container and tried to take it from Milagro’s mouth, but my horse would have none of it. As the judge struggled to get the container away from him, Milagro continued to toss the container until all the pennies were on the ground.
As I sat there in helpless horror, I heard Kathy laughing hysterically behind me. The Trail Trial volunteers who stood nearby were giggling until the judge managed to wrestle the empty container out of Milagro’s mouth.
After everyone had regained their composure, I offered to get off and pick up the pennies, but the judge told me not to worry about it. I then proceeded to the empty Tupperware container, dropped in my penny, rode to the trash can and deposited my empty cup.
Milagro and I waited nearby for Kathy and Bob to complete the obstacle. Kathy was stifling her giggles as she effortlessly performed the necessary steps, and then lost it once again after the judged thanked her and told her she could move on.
Later that day when I looked at my scores, I expected to see pretty low marks for “lack of horse control.” Surprisingly, the judge gave me a good score and we managed to pull a fifth place in our division out of quite a few competitors. I suspect Milagro secretly got an extra point or two for providing comedic relief.