We had arrived at the Harrison Hotel situated on beautiful Harrison Lake on Saturday evening. We were both looking forward to trying everything the resort had to offer but my bride persuaded me to go on a trail ride that first Sunday morning.
Having been brought up in the North East of England in a coal mining town I had never ridden a horse. I had seen one, of course, but never actually seen anyone ride except in the movies and it looked like a breeze when Gene Autrey or Roy Rogers did it.
Having ridden before, my wife arranged the best horses for us to ride and told me she had arranged a docile horse for me since it was my first time.
I had no trouble getting on the animal. I used my vast knowledge gleaned from the movies for that and it was similar to mounting a very large bike.
Once up there my knowledge ran out and I had to rely on help from my wife to further the experience. Having ridden a motorcycle for a few years I first noticed the width of the saddle and lack of the other fixtures which gave stability. The foot pedals were loose and not much use for balance and the steering was a piece of string. Without a clutch, throttle and brake I was definitely out of my element here.
After much milling around (other riders not me) the group finally started to move toward the trail in single file. I tried making a clicking sound like I heard others do but the horse didn't move. I tried sort of throwing my weight forward to see if it would get the hint. Flicking the reins like everyone else had done was no use either so my wife came up alongside and told me to give it a kick in the flank.
Right !!!!!!! You don't catch me that easily. I'm sitting on this huge beast that obviously has the ability to squash me like a slug and you expect me to kick it. No Way !!!!!
My wife did it for me and the ponderous great thing began to lurch forward. I had not noticed anyone else having any trouble staying upright so I presumed it must just be my horse that walked like a drunken sailor and I hung on to the front of the saddle for dear life.
The horse seemed to know its way and fell in behind one of its team mates. Just as well because it was taking no notice of anything I did. My wife was behind me and kept yelling stupid instructions as though this horse was would actually realise it had a rider on its back if I followed her advice.
We crossed the main road going out without incident and I was finally managing to look as though I wouldn't fall off in the next few seconds when a rider behind took it in his head to catch up to his mates in the front. As soon as he came alongside my horse took off and refused to be passed. The brakes didn't work. I had never had any faith in those two pieces of string anyway and I was pulling so hard on them that I was afraid they might break. I was more afraid that I might hurt this beast and make it mad at me. The other rider dropped back and said he'd pass later when the trail was wider and on we continued plodding along.
Soon after that he got his chance to pass when my horse saw a rather tasty looking tree. He veered off the trail and up to this tree and began tearing branches off it and contentedly chewing away. The tree was rather ornamental looking and originated on the other side of a fence bordering a very nicely cared for garden. A middle aged lady came running out of the house yelling things that I would never have thought she knew the meaning of and shooed the horse away. Naturally I was very studiously making all the correct moves to do the same thing and pretending that I actually had a modicum of control. I was glad the horse had only stopped for a snack because if it had been really hungry I don't believe it would have moved until it finished off the tree.
Back on the trail again we set off after the others but the horse felt no urgency to catch up and still ignored me.
I quite enjoyed the ride after that as we slowly moved through trees and across streams with the mountains as a backdrop and a beautiful blue sky above.
The rest of the group by now had reached the end of the trail and turned around. Some had opted to gallop back and they all thundered past but my mount just continued on as though he never noticed them. When the remainder appeared he dutifully turned around and started for home. I wondered if I had been given a pack horse who was never ridden but just followed the group wherever it went.
The ride back was uneventful until we reached the road. I stared straight ahead as we passed the lady in her garden and tried not to listen to any of the unkind things she had to say.
The road we had to cross was the only road into the resort and there was a large sign warning to stop when horses were crossing so by the time I got there a fairly long line of traffic was waiting. As usual there was an ever widening gap between me and the person ahead but when we reached the road we slowed down even more. There I was sitting astride this great creature urging, clicking, yelling, slapping and even kicking its flanks and still it just lumbered slowly across the road rather like you see elephants do when they are on a long trip across the plains of the Serengeti.
A few people did lean out of their cars and tell us to get a move on but none honked Oh I am so pleased no one honked.
The next day and for the rest of the honeymoon I found walking painful and spent much of the time avoiding the people who had just arrived that Sunday and who to a person (or so it seemed) had been sitting in a line up of cars waiting for a horse to cross. We also avoided walking down a certain street where there was a nice house with a beautifully cared for yard.