Horsey Want a Carrot?

After years of talking about it, we finally went horseback riding this evening. The plan was to meet at the south beach entrance then ride north through Pelada beach over to where two rivers converge at the ocean. After that, we’d go back to watch the sunset at La Luna restaurant in Pelada on our way back home.

After an afternoon of surfing, we were hungry, so we quickly ate some gallo pinto & guacamole and rode our bikes down the the meeting point. We were there right on time at 3:30, but by 4:15, we figured our wrangler wasn’t coming. Though we were disappointed, we figured we’d just go down the beach to watch the sun set at La Luna anyway. So off we went and what do you know–we came across a man on a horse with two more in tow. He had been told to meet us at the bank (clearly some wires had crossed there), so he was irritated at having been stood up. Oh boy.

We decided to give it a go anyway, and we all headed back to the beach, though we were now behind schedule. It’s not that we were in a hurry, but high tide was due at 7:00 and we had some spots on the beach to cross before the water was too high. Our wrangler spoke no English and our Spanish is still simple, so communication had to be simple too. So when Mike told him that it was our first time on horses and he said it was no problem, we weren’t expecting to mount up and then have our horses trot around willy nilly. For example, as Mike and the wrangler headed north up the beach, my horse decided to turn around and trot south at a pretty decent clip. Okay, so now my horse and I are recovered and Mike’s horse won’t budge. Okay Mike’s horse is inspired to walk and my horse is stopping to eat leaves. It was really all entirely out of control. By the way, this is all happening while still at the beach entrance. By the looks of things, we weren’t going anywhere.

But through some yanking of ropes and some yelling in Spanish, we were all moving in the same direction, north up the beach to Pelada. As I clearly had no control over my horse, I asked the wrangler how to say “turn to the left,” “turn to the right,” “stop,” and “go”. Though he showed me how to do these commands, all he had really given me was an illusion of control, really. I’m pretty darn sure that horse knew I wasn’t in charge regardless of any commands I may give. And indeed, this horse demonstrated that to me several times shortly thereafter by randomly trotting directly at some babies playing in the sand in Pelada. Holy $#&% crazy horse! Don’t trample the babies! Some hearty reign yanking and a lot of “alto! alto!” on my part got him to stop, but I couldn’t get him going in the right direction, so I just waited to be wrangled. And this is how it went. My horse wanted crash a picnic, he headed over for it. My horse wanted to eat leaves, he ate them. And all the while, Mike and his horse were lagging way behind. His poor horse had no giddy up.

So we made it to Pelada, now we just needed to go over this little dune and… holy crap the tide is high! Oh? we’re going anyway? Okay… Oh hello gigantic wave #1… gigantic wave #2… and now we’re in the ocean–a horses ass deep and over my knees. Glad my camera’s in a ziplock bag? I hope this horse doesn’t freak out. This really wasn’t part of the plan. Now all I can do is just hang my little white knuckles on to that insufficient lip of the saddle and hope for the best…

and we’re out. We can breathe again. None of this is what we had pictured our evening on horseback to be like. We turned off the beach and did some more random trotting (i.e. pounding of the sitbones into the saddle) through the woods, up a couple of steep banks (where the horses liked to get a running start) and eventually made it to the river. We took a short bum-ache break and offered some carrots (that Mike had lovingly prepared in advance) to the horses. Meh, they wanted nothing to do with carrots. Believe it or not, my horse, who had been nearly mowing the entire beach, and would continue to graze all of the weeds on the way back, wanted nothing to do with a carrot. Oh, we really know nothing about horses (I imagine any of you who have any horse experience have already picked up on that). At some point, roughly around the time my horse was trying to clothesline me with a low-hanging power line (to go eat some tall grasses), Mike got pooped on my a monkey. Yes, that happened.

We made it to La Luna just as the sun slipped beneath the waves. Beautiful.

Now we were back on the beach headed south towards home and it was crowded. Every night, the sunset draws the whole community to the beach. So here we were, on the home stretch, trotting along. People were taking photos of us. I’ve seen the horses go by many times and every time, I imagined the people riding them felt safe (or at least like they weren’t going to pop off the saddle at any time) and had some semblance of control over the situation.

Now as the person on the horse, I was wondering why none of the other riders I had previously seen ever shouted, “look out! Pick up your babies! Can’t you see I’m a reckless danger on a wild beast!?” Yes, from atop my horse, looking out at all of the sunset-struck horse-gawking people on the beach, I had gained a new perspective.

We parted ways with our horses and wrangler and then gingerly mounted our bikes to ride home in the dark. Never had a bike seat felt so soft, or a bike felt so simply safe and under control.

As we retired to bed that night, I noticed on my inner thighs the 3 inch bruises that would spread eventually nearly around my leg. A lovely temporary souvenir.

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