I am pretty convinced that all living beings have bad mood days. There are just some rare days, as a horse trainer, I have learned that you just find a good place to quit and put the horse away. It’s just not worth the fight if they have a rare bad-mood day. Kind of like people- some days you just keep your mouth shut when your closest family is driving you crazy. It’s just not worth the fight if they are having an out-if-character day. That’s ‘grace’ in practice.
Such was a day I had with Apache. Some horse people make fun of him being an Appaloosa (ya know- the old jokes like ‘why did indians ride Appy’s to battle? – so they’d be plenty pissed off by the time they got there.’ etc.) Well, I defend Apache because he is normally well behaved. But today, like a day I remember in Utah, I was glad there were no cliffs nearby to tempt me to push him off! And unlike when I am training horses, we don’t have the luxury to ‘just put him away’ when we are riding across America.
I don’t know what his problem was, but he was freaking out over every truck, bus, motorcyle, and car that went by. He litterally bolted (ran very fast and out of control) several times. I thought once he was going to run into the road, but I managed to turn him into the yard next to me. I broke off a stick and got after him every time he did it, but it made no difference. He was completely out of control for no conceivable reason. It’s not like is isn’t completely used to traffic. My only break was a short stop we did when we used the bathroom at a restaurant we passed, and then they fed us lunch too. I was exhausted from dealing with Apache, it made my back hurt worse, I was frustrated, and my nerves were pretty fried from dealing with an unsafe ride all day when we finally stopped.
The owner of a boat prop repair shop let us sleep in his office. We seem to have a run of business hosts lately! We were going to highline the horses, but the neighbor offered his goat pen and fenced in garden. Perfect! The horses always recuperate better when they are able to move freely overnight. We separated Apache from the rest because it is rare, but when he is in a bad mood, he harasses the others all night. I was hopeful he’d be in a better mood the next day.
He wasn’t much better. I suddenly had a hunch. He started this rediculous behaviour the day after Roanoke. What if it was because his hocks hurt and since the cars were coming from behind him, in his mind they were causing the pain? It was a far fetch, but I couldn’t think of any other reason for the sudden change. The horses are due for a rest, so maybe they will heal some in the next few days so he doesn’t act so crazy after that. One can hope.
That night we stayed on the Savoy-Lee winery property. There was enough grass for the horses to graze, and it was so windy and cold that we set up our tent in the woods for a little shelter from the wind. The temperature is getting below freezing at night now, so it was a chilly night. I am so glad we will be finishing before the dead of winter sets in…. I hope!
On that note, we are getting excited about finishing. It’s less than a month away at the time of writing this, and we keep getting phone calls from old friends, new friends, and family around the country that are buying plane tickets to meet us at the end. It means so much to have this kind of loving support after such a grueling journey. I know it will be an emotional day- one that will take months for us to wrap our minds around. But we are starting to get jittery as we continue to solidify plans for the last few days of the ride. It’s completely overwhelming to think about, let alone do, but I know it will be a great end to the trip of a lifetime!