We had bigtime company in town last week for the eclipse. Before that, we had smaller-time company here just for the fun of it, with their children. They came from far and wide, and as fun-loving people are wont to do, they wished to ride a four-legged, hooved creature while on their vacations in cowboyland.
I thought about my animals for a moment and quickly decided we were all ready for such challenges. As a guinea pig, I chose a visitor from the first group, a small, screechy, 3 and a half year-old girl named Ada. Having picked her out of the hat, I peered at the equines, wondering who might be most trustworthy with such precious cargo. Who would you guess I chose?
Here are our choices:
- The Donkey. Would you trust that face? I’m not sure what more to say.
- The Old Horse. I am not responsible for the first 30-some-odd years of this animal’s life, which clearly did not involve being taught much in the way of manners. Also, he’s half blind.
- The Mustang. OK, OK, so maybe most people would not want to put the small child on the animal that 465 days ago was untouched. I would guess that most people haven’t met a well-gentled mustang.
He was a champ. I rode him in the saddle with small person perched in front of me, with the Man leading. She screamed, she flailed, she giggled. He marched onward like a stoic war horse, going into a battle of small people. He paid attention and stepped gingerly over any and all obstacles. One might not need guess this, but I was damn proud.
She enjoyed herself on the Mustang so much, we went out again the next day, and even did some trotting. The screeching intensified with the bounces, and still no reaction from our loyal steed.
Fast forward one week. I had friends of an older persuasion in town, plus one quasi-mother-in-law. Five new people rode the hooved critters a combination of 7 different ways. (I’m not entirely sure I said that right, but just assume I’m talking about people trying out two different animals over a span of several days. Math was never my strong suit.) All but one of these humans hadn’t been on a horse since childhood. No one led them. The donkey carried my quasi-mother-in-law and myself (not at the same time). The Old Horse carried a very tall man who wanted him to do things even I don’t ask him to do. No one set a foot wrong. I’m still stunned. Pleased, but stunned.
Suddenly the idea of a small dude ranch doesn’t seem so far-fetched.