In Which We Briefly Re-Enact The Man From Snowy River

Every horse lover has seen The Man From Snowy River, right?

remember this scene?

On Sunday, we rode about 6 miles with Shasta and Nilla at Rancho San Antonio. Nilla was a complete pill about getting on the trailer, staying on the trailer, and standing tied at the trailer so I really though she'd be a nut when I got on, but she was remarkably good. Most of the ride was spent on the buckle, walking calmly. Given she's never been trailered to a strange park before, it was pretty impressive.

Until we came across a stroller. We went to trot at one point and there was a stroller. Now Nilla has seen strollers before - countless times. And she's never cared. So I was unprepared for her to fly sideways into a bush with me. The stroller wasn't even moving. I eventually managed to kick her past the stroller and we carried on.

As we were coming down the final hill towards the trailer we saw another stroller and she was wide eyed and snorty, but the trail was really wide so she walked by without completely freaking out. As we continued on we met some people we used to board with coming up the trail. We stopped to chat a bit and then moved on. Nilla was being a bit too focused on them leaving so I was also focusing on that and didn't see the stroller coming.

When Nilla saw it, we were on the right hand side of the trail up against a vertical hill of dirt and grass. The stroller was coming on the left, so Nilla decided the best way to escape was to go up the hill. Any horse - or human - would have considered this hill a boundary, like a wall. Nilla though it looked scalable. She went up a few strides, then turned around and went back down. I don't have any pictures because I was concentrating on not dying, but below is a picture from google of a different part of the park that has a similarly vertical side wall.

I honestly have no idea how I stayed on - especially on the downward part. But Nilla just sort of walked down the hill like it was totally normal. Mules are known for being sure-footed, but this was crazy steep. And since I threw my weight forward to stay on for the up, I'm shocked I managed to get back and not go tumbling off her neck going down.

This isn't the first time she's gone of trail with me - my husband and I joke that she's an off-roading mule as she will often just decide to barge off trail if I'm not actively steering (sometimes even when I am). However, this was the most extreme diversion by far. I kicked her past the stroller and she went back to moseying along not minding anything for the rest of the ride. Seriously bi-polar.

Innocent Face

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