Friday, July 3, 2009

The Big Bang Theory

Last night Ranae had a massage scheduled. I got home fed, cleaned the pens, and even though it was warm there was a breeze, and I decided to go for a ride. I tacked up and we headed for the canal bank. Jessie was a little reluctant going out by herself. She continues to get better with every outing.

We trotted most of the way out. The canal is not all that wide so we worked on changing speeds and moving forward. We would trot and then I would sit and see if Jess would break to a walk. Then we would lope and try to a transition to a trot. We were having a good ol' time as we headed out to the cornfields.

Our canal intersects with a larger, cement-lined feeder canal to the California Aqueduct. There are two cement bridges we use to get across the feeder canal. The east bridge had a few guys hanging out drinking beer and riding an ATV, so we turned and headed for the west bridge. The loop route we take means that whatever bridge we take on the way out takes us to the other bridge on the way home.

We loped a bit around the cornfield. Jessie was a little concerned with "The Children of the Corn" she knew were hiding in that field and the slight breeze made the six foot stalks even more scary. I kept her feet moving and we turned for home still working on our speed transitions.

As we approached the canal intersection things were getting busy. From about a quarter mile away I could see a van pull up and drop off four or five kids and there was now a pickup with another five or six teenagers and the original four guys with the ATV. (We have seen the ATV boys a couple of times out there.) The bridges are about twenty feet above the water and the kids like to jump off the bridge (hey, whatever butters your bread. It's hotter than blazes here). Even if we wanted to head over to the west bridge we would have to ride right by all these people, so I thought we would just work our way slowly over and try to cross that bridge with the now 16 or so people (and one dog) milling about.

We were probably twenty to thirty yards away when a couple moved to the center of the bridge, climbed the 2 foot railing and prepared to back flip into the water. I stopped Jessie so we could watch and about this time the kids over by the pickup lit some firecrackers, The girl jumps off the bridge about the same time we hear the bop-bop-bop-bop-bop-bop of the machine gun-like firecrackers. When I had stopped Jessie to watch "the dive" I dropped my hand to her mane and relaxed. When the noise went off she flinched (as probably did I) but she didn't move a foot. I sat there scratching my chin looking at everyone and trying to decide if I should try to cross with the new variable, the fireworks, in play. The group had seen me approach from as far away as I had seen them. Of course, we were both on private property, so you could say we both had equal rights not to be there. I didn't want to intrude on their fun, but I wanted to get across that bridge.

About 15 seconds went by and one of the ATV guys said, "Watch it with those fireworks, you could spook the horse". I yelled, "Thanks" and asked Jessie to move forward. She walked carefully up to the bridge with all the people milling about and, like a champ, just moved right on through. As we passed, the thirteen year old who lit the crackers apologized and I tossed him a "No problem, friend". The ATV guy was the last one we passed and I thanked him and he said, "Anytime you want, I'll race you for pink slips." We got a laugh and once I got passed them we headed off in a trot, then I decided to lope. It was about a half a mile to the road and we loped most of the way there. Jessie had some energy and I wanted her to use it up. Her head was a little high. She was moving fast, but not out-of-control fast. When I asked her to slow, she did (and then immediately went back to "her" pace). I asked for a "whoa" shortly before the road. I think she had forgotten I was up there. I picked up one rein and she immediately stopped.

After we crossed the road we went back to working on our walk-to-trot and trot-to-walk transitions. We did that all the way home. This night we had conquered the fireworks.
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