May 27 2006
Gretchen and I were out for a ride again, she on Spice and me on Raffiq. Higher and higher along a gradually sloping old mining road we trotted above the Bridgeport valley, with great views of the icy blue Bridgeport reservoir framed by the snowy Sierras (lots of snow for this time of year!!). Crisp sunshine and pleasant cool breeze – not windy but enough to keep those danged no-see-ums out of my ears and hairline. We’d neared the top of our loop, and were trotting and cantering along a dirt road, with me in the lead, coming around a corner, and, “Uh-oh,” I said.
And just then Raffiq saw what I saw and planted himself, and Spice saw what I saw, and she planted it and wheeled around and bucked and reared. Was it a cougar in our trail? A black bear? A ghost?
No, it was a helium Happy Birthday balloon, caught on a sage bush lining the road, dancing merrily in the breeze. Didn’t exactly belong out here in nature. Raffiq had danced off the road and so could no longer see the Horse-Eating Balloon, but Spice could still get an eyeful between her bucks, so while she was freaking out from the H-E Balloon, Raffiq freaked out because she was freaking out. Raffiq tends to want to bolt when he gets stirred up, so I had an anchor hold on his reins. We both managed to stay in the saddle – Gretchen having the harder ride - and when we got the horses stopped, we both jumped off. I handed her Raffiq, and I walked over to the H-E Balloon, both horses eyeing me with big eyes and pricked ears and twitchy legs, ready to bolt in case I got eaten and it came after them. I removed the offensive piece of trash, stepped on it and popped it. (I wondered belatedly, if I’d sucked up the helium and walked up to the horses talking funny, you think they’d’ve run off in panic, having already been spooked? We were probably 7 miles from home, maybe a good thing I didn’t try it).
The horses jumped, as did Gretchen and I, because it sounded like a shotgun, echoing off some of the cliffs above us. I walked back to the horses, and we led them both on foot a ways, past the scary part, with them both looking around us in case another Horse Eating Something jumped out.
We hit the main road and hopped back on, headed up the road a little further till we could see the old Shimong mine, then turned around and headed back. All downhill along a graded dirt road, we walked and trotted and cantered, stopped for grass snacks, and got off ourselves and walked a few miles, the whole time facing the awesome view of the Bridgeport valley a thousand feet below.
Another great ride on another great day in Bridgeport!