Over the last year, while I wasn't writing, I added to my small familial group. Once upon a time, it was just me. Then I added Jack. Then along came the redhead, and her little family more than doubled the size of mine, adding another dog (a Bouvier named... Jack) and a British shorthair cat named Merlin.
This is not about them.
The other addition to my family circle is a retired polo pony named Hermanito. (Hermanito means "little brother" in Spanish). Interesting and exciting is the story of how Ari (Hermanito is a mouthful, so I call him "Ari" for short... See Hermanito is pronounced Ari-ma-neeto... sort of) came into my life. A story for another time though.
Jack and Ari are not the best of friends, horses being prey animals and dogs being predators and all. I made some inroads though. I made them spend time together and get used to one another. If we're going to be a team, stomping and biting are big no-nos. They tolerate each other at best. This wasn't really helped by the anti-dog policies at the stable where Ari was boarded.
Things are different now. All of us are in North Carolina now. Ari is at a very dog-friendly facility now. So the training begins. Ari and I haven't ridden in two months. That's too long for either of us. So, I saddled him up today for some ring riding... Get his ya-yas
out so to speak. If he's gonna throw me, I want it to be in a controlled
area with a soft sand landing... I'm no kid anymore, and it hurts longer than it used too... even if I haven't been thrown from a horse.
It went well. No bucking, no breaking, no stubborn streak. Jack got bored and was running between Ari's feet making him shy a little, but all in all a good run.
So I decided to hit the trail to get Jack's ya-yas out. (Crazed freakin' dog)
It was perfect. Jack running ahead and Ari relaxed because he could keep a close eye on him. We were in the shade, so it was nice and cool, Jack splashing in the creek, Ari trying to snatch mouthfuls of the tall grass.
And then... The Wild Turkey hit...
OK, no, not that wild turkey... Jack flushed up a wild turkey from the brush ahead of us...
For those not familiar with horses, most prefer not to be startled. A big fucking bird popping up unexpectedly right in front of you is startling. He shied and bounced backward, but being an ex polo horse, regained his composure fairly quickly... Until the other three turkeys broke loose in full throat, "Gobble, gobble, gobble!" Wings flapping so hard it sounded like a jet taking off.
Ari was undone. He wasn't so much bucking as bouncing... bouncing and trying to turn and run. I was up in the stirrups for balance, reigning in hard... When Jack decides to save me... Save me by running under Ari and snapping at his feet.
Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit.
I pulled Ari into a tight turn. As he's circling like a horsie dervish, I focused on Jack... "NO! SIT! NO!! SIT THE FUCK DOWN!!!"
As soon as he did, Ari calmed down too. Still... Lots of adrenaline flowing through three strong willed hard-headed males.
I sent Jack up ahead on the trail, and set Ari to following him back to the ring. After dismounting, we had some togetherness training... Ari got brushed down, back in the pasture. Jack and I headed for home.
Geez. Who woulda ever thought that my demise nearly came from wild turkey that didn't come out of a bottle.