It was a busy day about the place yesterday, and I didn't have a chance to ride Lance until the last hour of daylight. We had just started walking in the arena when Rick came in with a backpack sprayer. He had been threatening to spray the whole thing with RoundUp, and was there to act on it. Boo, hiss; Monsanto has lied to everyone about the safety of this herbicide and I've read enough of the independent research to be very uncomfortable with its widespread use. Lance and I exited, stage right.
We headed up the driveway and down the lane, taking a detour into the lot for sale beside us. As we were leaving the lot, two vehicles pulled into the next lot, where a 12,000 sq.ft. winery is being built. The vehicles' headlights startled Lance, but he recovered quickly. Then, as we proceeded down the lane and he saw for the first time all the big equipment and changes to the terrain, he grew nervous. All of a sudden he bolted. A one-rein stop put an end to that, thankfully, and Lance seemed to settle down as we continued down the lane and the rest of the world was as he remembered it.
We crossed the paved road and continued north along our gravel road. It was a beautiful evening and I was enjoying the scenery. All of a sudden, Lance's back bowed up under me and he launched into the air! As my helmet sloshed around on my head I thought, "This is NOT adjusted tightly enough." There was a pause in the action and in a nanosecond my options and their consequences flashed through my mind. If we continued our route would immediately take us down a fairly steep, short hill; I didn't like the prospects of riding a bucking horse down hill. But I didn't want to turn around and head home, lest Lance connect the dots and think, "Hey, I acted up and I got to go home!" For the same reason I didn't want to get off and lead him, although I was sorely tempted for safety's sake – both of ours. (Lance hasn't received clearance from his vet to do more than walk; I'm pretty sure bucking and bolting aren't approved activities!)
I made him move his feet where we were at, rated his tension too high to proceed, and headed home with my rear planted firmly in the saddle, determined to give him plenty to think about. There were occasional eruptions, sometimes upward and sometimes forward, but I kept Lance between me and the ground and we got home safely. Actually, thanks to the fancy F.I.T.S. breeches that Rick got me for Christmas, I never felt in any real danger of parting company with my mount – but partly because Lance never committed himself to unloading me.
It was like riding a totally different horse, though; Lance is sooo quiet and steady in the arena, and has been a rock on the trails and at the beach, too. At our last local dressage meeting, our guest speakers were the trainers (husband and wife) for the Portland Mounted Patrol. As they described the type of horse they have learned works best for the job (the Patrol is now mounted exclusively on drafts and draft crosses), I told my friend Sylvia (Cohort's owner) that Lance fit the bill exactly. Now I'm not so sure (NOT that I was looking for a new home for him!).