I have said it many times and it still bears worthy of repeating. When you are driving a carriage or cart, it becomes a whole different game as far as safety is concerned. Putting a horse, donkey, mule or pony to a cart brings on a whole new dimension of danger when things go south and it all unravels. It never happens slowly and if you can avoid it, you do.
If ignorance is bliss, there are times I feel we have gone way past Disneyland. Some people are just too damned ignorant to realize when the rest of us are not only looking out for our own safety but theirs as well! Makes you want to slap them stupid, but it's pointless because they have exceeded all limits in that respect.
Yesterday at the horse park, we encountered one such person. It has been said on the blogs more than once, that stupidity should be painful. Trust me- IT IS! Problem is though, the wrong people get hurt and they are the ones who suffer. Those who should feel it, merely suffer a blow to the ego, if that. They caused the wreck and walk away as if nothing happened. No remorse, not a care in the world and rarely even offering an apology.
We took Kat to the park yesterday morning to drive him. Last weekend there were a few people there and our timing was excellent. We were ready to put him to the cart just as they had all finished up and were exiting the arena. We had it to ourselves. The two women with the three reining horses were there again, the woman with the hunter horse too and another woman with a long ponytail as well. We had all worked around each other and everything was fine. Nice group, well behaved horses all around and it was pleasant day for everyone. This weekend? We weren't so lucky.
As I was grooming and tacking up Kat, another trailer pulled in with two paint horses. Then two more horses showed up that had been ridden over, a black horse and a gray. Let. the. games. begin.......
The two paint horses were tacked and ready in a flash so they headed over to the round pen. It's all public use and first come first serve. No big deal, their one horse was bucking like no tomorrow and they were going to work it out before putting their kid up there. They took over the round pen, but if they stayed there and kept the horse under control, I have no problem with that. I can respect them for that! I needed to lunge Kat before making him work so I headed into the arena. He has been to shows, done the in hand stuff, and knows he still has to work even though there are other horses around.
The black and gray horses were there for whatever reason. The woman riding the black horse was 'coaching' (if you can call it that) the young boy (about 7-10 y/o) that was riding the gray. Kat walked off and eventually started to trot. About then the two horses came around the end of the arena and spotted him. The gray panicked and stopped, then tried to turn and run. The boy got him stopped and turned him around to face Kat as the pony kept on working. I kept Kat on a shorter line and made him focus on me while he was working. This shorter line also left plenty of room for the other riders to use the arena, go by and stay on or off the rail as they needed.
Kat was finally done working and ready to put to the cart. Hubby was standing near the gate talking to the two women with the reiners. I led Kat out and stood under a tree to wait and see where everyone else was at in their workouts and if we would be posing any problems bringing the cart in. The two reining horse women had no issue with it. One of them said I had as much right to be there as any of them, but it was easy to tell the gray horse would be an issue. Everyone else in the arena was in agreement on this. Everyone except the woman on the black horse that was with them.
I kept the cart out of the arena because of all the horses to upset- the gray is the last one I wanted to rattle. The kid riding him had little to no control as it was. The Harpy on the black horse was giving him a lesson, but often she was out in front of them, shouting instructions to him behind her and had no way of seeing how things were going. In her world everything was fine...
If the gray was having an issue with the pony just being in the arena with him, imagine ramping things up and bringing the cart in there too. The last thing I wanted was to freak out their horse. The kid would likely get dumped- possibly hurt and their horse freaking out, could freak out mine. I didn't want the kid to get hurt and I just don't need that kind of excitement again. Sorry, but I will pass. Thanks!
It's bad enough that I choose my clothes by what I wouldn't mind losing if the paramedics have to show up to treat me and they cut it off. Seriously, I think of these things... If you're hurt, strapped to a board and they need to treat you, they are cutting through the clothes to do it. So much for that new pair of jeans, the brand name shirt- whatever- they are going to cut it up no matter what you say. I plan for this. Sick, I know, but what can I say?
As I am standing there with Kat under the tree, Harpy and her student come over by the gate. She instructs the boy to dismount, tie the horse to the rail with the reins, adding how you shouldn't, "but it's ok this time", climb the fence and grab a water bottle out of their bag for them. She asks me if I will be bringing the cart into the arena? Um, no. Not today, but mostly not as long as YOU two are in there...
Instead I took Kat back to the trailer to put his bridle on and grabbed the long lines. We could still work, just going to be a little different this time. Had Harpy and her student brought the horses out while they got a drink and took a break, I could have taken Kat in, put him to the cart and driven him some. Common courtesy is non existent for some people though and it wasn't meant to be.
By the time I brought Kat into the arena in long lines to ground drive him, Harpy and her student were again working in the arena. She shouted instructions behind her and they went from a walk to a canter (or hand gallop rather) then with another shout, a few loud "Ho's" and lots of yanking, pulling and one rein stops later they would be back down to a walk again. I felt bad for the two horses as she was slamming on the back of the black one and the kid was doing some one rein stops with about one foot or less of rein between his hand and the bit.
She called out "Yay! I'm glad you came back in." to Kat & I as we entered the arena and declared to everyone in range how happy she was about the decision.
I was not there for her entertainment, nor was I there for her approval.
I got right to work with Kat, asking him to bend and doing our softening work. For the most part he was on a loose rein the whole time. We did a lot of walking and stopping and the woman on the hunter horse said how much she liked him, admired his behavior (for being a stallion) and agreed that Harpy was going to get the kid dumped at some point at the very least. The woman with the long ponytail said the same thing. She too was glad I had opted to leave the cart behind for the kids sake and safety. "Nevermind me, I would worry more about them."
As we were leaving the park, Harpy and the woman with the paint horses were standing along the rail of the arena talking. The kid on the gray? Harpy was shouting to him to do all sorts of things as they were doing laps around the arena at mach 5.
I don't blame the boy at all. We were all there at some point, riding without a clue, doing as we were told, trusting our instructors and learning as we went. Some of us didn't have lessons or a coach and learned it all by the seat of our pants as we went along. Trial and error mixed with a dash of major mistakes, but we survived. Plenty of us managed to take safety into account and how to look out for ourselves and our horses. Sometimes this includes watching out for others.
Then there's the people like the Harpy. They think they know what they are doing, but someone is going to get hurt in the process because of their ignorance, lack of knowledge, lack of judgement and lack of common sense. The rest of us can only do so much to help out, even if that means staying out of the way. When it all goes wrong- the horse will most likely get blamed. It happens more than any of us would like to admit.