Arabian Story Number Two: S is for Scram
This involves my own Arabian gelding. Prior to my buying him as a trail horse, he’d been campaigned successfully (shown to the nth degree) as a stallion in both Arab specific classes of all kinds and western pleasure. He was as broke as broke gets. Great on and off the trail. His breeder trained virtually all of his horses for riding & driving. He also did stunt riding for Hollywood films on his stunt string. This horse had been everywhere, seen everything. He was gelded at 15, and perfect for what I wanted: not much.
My horse had a very unfortunate name which I won’t go into here. Suffice to say he was named after a bottle of anti-diarrhea medication. When he was born, he had scours. (the runs) The breeder, uh, “Arabian-ized” part of the name of the over the counter, life-saving medication, and voila…his registered name that I don’t want to talk about.
Barn name: K.O. Everyone assumed it stood for Knock Out, because he was one handsome dude. How is it I ended up with TWO horses named either after bodily fluids or their cure?
I was mucking stalls at a huge training barn in a rural area. The barn had a half-furlong groomed race track, a round pen, a swimming rehab area, and a gigantic arena. No trails. I was completely bored with Not Much in the arena, and horrifically bored with Not Much on the circular track. I wanted to trail ride. Well, the barn WAS in the middle of nowhere…so my 20-something brain thought hmmm….I could ride him down the road if it’s early enough. There’s a shoulder so I can dismount if a car comes. Sunday morning? 6am? No traffic. Should be fine. Who drives that early on a Sunday?
I hadn’t yet learned that Murphy’s Law is a valid law of physics.
Sunday morning, 6 am, we are ambling down a typical two lane country road. Big drainage ditches on either side, barbed wire cow pastures past the ditches. An orchard I could ride through when I got close enough.
Problem: I wasn’t the only person who thought Hmmm…Sunday morning, 6:30 am…no traffic. Who drives that early on a Sunday morning?
I heard it before I saw it. K.O.’s ears flicked back and forth between me and the noise…what do you want me to do? I look at the five foot deep, eight feet wide drainage ditches and the barbed wire beyond them. Holy crap, what do I want him to do??
A double big rig came flying too fast around the turn, crossing the center line: an unloaded logging truck, belching diesel smoke, with heavy chains rattling loud enough to scare even Tiny Tim into hurling his crutch at Mr. Scrooge.
I was going to die.
No time to get off, no time to finagle the ditch, no time to do anything but ask K.O. to stand still on the shoulder. The big rig driver was helpful. He blasted his air horn at us. Three times. Where the heck did the driver think we were gonna go to get out of the way?
Now I was going to die a mutilated torturous death.
The logging truck roared by, eight feet away, loud as a train, and the driver flipped us the bird, pulling on the air horn one more time.
K.O. trembled all over, but stood completely still. He didn’t move. I couldn’t dismount. I was total jelly, leaning over the saddle in a near fetal position. I couldn’t believe it. K.O. was a world class Spook Shopper, in addition to which, bags of carrots honestly frightened him.
I finally grew some bones and got off. We were a half hour away from the barn. When we got to a long stretch of road that was highly visible in both directions, I got back on, thinking I have to keep this close to no big deal. We came to a 4-way stop. I’m so relieved. I can see the barn from here.
K.O. goes stiff underneath me. That’s my first clue. I’m still staring at the barn as if it’s growing palm trees and I’ll find honey and dates by the spring. I look down. K.O. is trembling, staring at the giant white “S” of STOP that is painted on the street. He loses his mind. It’s going to KILL him. He skitters, and starts to rear. On asphalt. Helmet? What helmet? I manage to get off him. It takes me 20 minutes to get him past the killer S. I finally have to coax him carefully down through the ditch, which also scares him.
Okay, logging truck comes at him like a smoking dragon, and he does nothing. Completely and utterly dependable. Talk about bomb proof. Painted S on the road and all bets are off: he’s going to die.