Who ever thought that getting pulled over on horseback by police would be a common occurrence for us?!
We had said our goodbyes to Alison and Chris and were riding through El Dorado and heading to Rosalia to a church that was planning to host us. We had our orange vest on Fiddle’s butt so traffic could easily see us and drive carefully by. Now El Dorado was a decent size town, but small enough to not require parade permits. Traffic was somewhat heavy, but overall respectful of the horses and giving us plenty of room. We watch behind us very carefully so we are aware of what traffic is coming up. On one of my many glances behind me, I suddenly realized we were being followed by a police officer with his lights on!Yes, this time, we had the lights flashing behind us! “Cool” I thought. “He’s being really nice and making sure traffic goes around us and we get safely through town!” Then I thought, “Well wait a minute, what if he’s pulling us over?!” So I yelled back to Richard that there was a cop behind us and maybe we should see if he wanted anything. So into a gas station parking lot we went…
The officer stepped out of the car and I yelled over the traffic, ‘”Were you just being nice and following us to protect us from traffic?” His response… “Um, No. It’s cool and all to see horses going through town. It’s legal and all. But there’s actually a law against, um, manure being in the roads. I’ve seen a trail through town so I had to stop you.”
“Snort… Are you serious?!’
“Yep. I won’t make you go back and pick it up, but you need to do it from here on out.”
(‘Well that’s good because it’s already run over. What am I supposed to do… scrape it up?’)
But I controlled myself and said, “Well thank you. Um, do you have anything for us to put it in? We don’t exactly carry anything with us for this.” I hand my horse’s lead rope to some random person standing there as an onlooker with an open mouth in disbelief that we are being pulled over… and follow the officer as he opens his trunk and pulls out a few black trash bags then gets back in the car and waits.
Turns out the onlookers were really cool guys who were quite interested in Hearts Up Ranch and gave us donations. Good thing they were comfortable with horses. I took my horse back from him. We talked for a little while then realized the cop was still there with his lights on. Must be waiting for us to leave first. Maybe he wants to watch our horses poop and see what we do…. So we started down the road again…. and the police car drove away.
Apache pooped. Great. We better do what he said…. Pull over as quickly as possible. Hand horses to Richard. Get plastic bag. Go back to pile. It’s already run over. Great. How am I supposed to pick up a poop pancake? So I scraped it together with my boots, squatted down in the middle of a busy lane… boy THIS is safe (not!), and put the poop in the bag… with my hands. We don’t exactly carry a shovel with us folks! Find a place on top of Fiddle’s pack to put this bag of poop. Get back on horse.
Tiska pooped. Repeat above paragraph. This time was Richard’s turn.
Fiddle pooped. Richard decided this was ridiculous and he was just going to walk through town and pick up the messes.
Our onlookers from the gas station happened to be in a store that we passed. He came out and yelled across the street that he already emailed the mayor of this ridiculous use of the city police.
This is embarrassing.
Keep riding. Keep scooping.
People started coming out of the woodwork to apologize for us having to do this.
Little kids at a daycare all congregated to watch the horses go by. We stopped and let them pet them. We mentally willed the horses to hold their poop so we didn’t have to pick it up in front of the kids. THAT would be an explanation! They held it. We continued. They pooped. We scooped.
We got out of town. The horses bowels were empty. They quite pooping. Of course. Leave it to them to relieve everything through town so we had to pick it up instead of waiting two miles!
We got 10 miles. We intended to go 18 and get to Rosalia.Too many delays picking up poop. Chris came by to check on us. We put the horses in their sale barn lot and went back to their house AGAIN. Guess we won’t make it to Rosalia till tomorrow. Good thing the Locke’s are wonderful hosts. We watched Secretariat with a huge group of people at their house and forgot our annoyance and embarrassment for the day…..
(Epilogue- …… Well, word got around town like fire in a dry forest. People were outraged. Dozens and dozens of people personally apologized for the way we were treated in their town. Our hosts were livid and embarrassed for us. It got on the radio…and TV. It was heard many towns away. We received an apology from the Mayor of El Dorado. Then the Chief of Police called. He explained that the law was created because of the hundreds of cattle trucks that were going through town and not closing their manure traps. It was not intended for individual horses riding through a rural community. The Chief listened to the radio transmission tapes and explained that the officer had called in to make sure it was legal for horses to ride the streets of El Dorado. It was. But a department head who maybe should not have gotten involved, told him of that law. He felt obligated to pull us over though he hadn’t intended to. The Chief vouched for this officer’s integrity. He did, however, speak with the department head about “intent of law” and not taking it out of context or taking it too far. The Chief was utterly apologetic for our experience in his town. We accepted the apology and after hearing the explanation, asked him to relay to the officer that we held no ill will against him. We were just glad that the person who started it all was spoken to. The Chief of Police also personally visited our hosts, the Lockes, to offer an explanation and apology for their embarrassment. He had tried to find us personally, but had to settle for a phone call after not finding us. We were amazed and grateful for the effort put forth from the town of El Dorado to apologize and try to correct a wrong done. Thank you to everyone who cared and complained on our behalf. You really do have a wonderful community. And for the record, we’ve never been apologized to by a Mayor or a Chief of Police, let alone both in one day!