Kelly In Catty

This blog is Kell's attempt to keep in touch with friends far away who complain that I don't e-mail nearly enough.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Hack Horses at Summer Camp

My friend Chris got me thinking about horses - and despite how dangerous they can be, how much fun they are. My favorite camp horse memory involved a guy named Matt... I knew him as a camper - then later as a camp counselor. Now, as adults, I still tell this story every time I see him. In fact, this past Christmas, I got to tell his new wife. (I'm sure he just tunes me out)

Little Matt was riding a horse named Master through a quarry. I was leading the ride. There is a point in this quarry where the horses needed to go up a little, but steep hill. The kids loved it because the horses found it much easier to do a little leap-maneuver to get up the incline, as opposed to trudging up the hill, one leg at a time. The sudden "whoosh" of horsepower was always a bit of a thrill for beginner riders.

To add drama to the thrill, I was unaware of a bee's nest next to the trail.

If you are un-horsed, I have to tell you something about these seemingly majestic animals. They have a hopeless and unforgiving pack mentality. If one horse is upset, the others will act as if the offense is theirs. The result can be sheer pandmonium until everyone calms down. Then, it's business as usual, as if the incident never occurred.

For example, if a horse is doing a little leap-maneuver up a hill in a quarry and suddently gets stung by a bee, it will run. The other horses, unstung and absolutely fine, will think something like, "I don't know why - but I'm TERRIFIED!" and begin to run. To make matters worse, the 8 year olds riding the scared horses will join in on the fear. They tug at the reigns with all their might, often raising their arms as if they want to ask a question... This throws kids' balance further off... Their fear and dizziness feeds into the horses' paranoia...

It seems we all have one huge and ridiculous pack mentality.

I've been through this before. As a seasoned professional equestrian guide (tee hee), if I turn my horse, and ask that horse to stand still, generally, the other horses will say something like, "There's Scout. He's not scared - and he's a real pansy! We must be okay." Everyone stops. The children, realizing they're holding their reigns above their heads, relax. The horses can put their heads down. Everyone calms down. No one falls off.

Ok. Back to the quarry. The horse behind me got stung and began to run. Master and Matt fled the scene (this was, of course, a scene of about 2 yards). I turned my horse. All the horses stopped, but the momentum caused Matt to lurch forward. (He had a certain lack of balance, superceded only by his stubborn unwillingness to fall.) Matt threw his arms around Master's neck. He gripped with his legs. His little body, topheavy, caused him to slide down and around the horse's neck. Somehow Master remained calm and upright.

Matthew, now dangling from Master's neck, (much like a kid hangs from monkey bars), screamed, "Miss Kelly, Miss Kelly!! HELP!"

I just looked at him, bemused, and said, "Matt, let go with your feet." He looked at me like I was crazy, but did as he was told.

Relieved, Matthew was surprised to discover he was standing, firmly on terra firma - right next to Master's neck. A beat later, he discovered he was still hanging on to Master's neck, therefore giving the magnificent steed an accidental hug. He blushed. I helped him back on the horse, and we rode back to the stable.

Chris - that's one of my favorite camp memories. AND, FYI, I was a part of one of those Camp Rodeos (for everyone else - refer to Chris' comment on the previous blog)- I was riding Kibbles - and he took off. Instead of going over the covered bridge, it jumped in the creek, and over the opposite bank. Kibbs ran me through a tree. I got a nasty welt on my neck, but I didn't fall off - Phil and Brian came running after me to see if I was ok... Later, everyone kept asking where I got the hickey. I don't think they do rodeos anymore.



Post a Comment

<< Home