Your Handy Dandy Guide to the Kentucky Derby, Part I

The Todd

The Todd. He's the one in front. Looking particularly Toddish.

In years prior I’ve sent out an illustrated e-mail to friends and family who don’t keep up with the Derby to give them a shorthand version of what stories to be aware of and what horses to watch for. This year’s version will be even shorter than usual. Here it is: BLLLAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH…….

I just don’t see the usual compelling Derby story taking shape. However, in the absence of a compelling story, there is a dominant theme. And that theme is dominance.

One trainer, one horse and one stable will dominate this year’s Derby with numbers if nothing else. WinStar Farm could set a record for number of entries with four – American Lion, Endorsement, Super Saver and Rule. Meanwhile, dominanting the training ranks is Todd Pletcher, who could saddle 15 horses for this year’s Derby. Okay, not 15. But a lot. I’m not even sure how many. Like WinStar, he may also set a record this year.  Known amongst my friends as “The Todd,” an homage to the Scrubs character who couldn’t be less like the oh-so-stiff Pletcher, the super trainer has led over 20 horses to the saddling paddock on the First Saturday in May and has never won. (He has won a Classic, though, with the memorable filly Rags to Riches in the Belmont.) Among his charges is the favorite, Eskendereya, who will dominate the bettors’ wallets. In the end, the 2010 Derby may boil down to a very simple story indeed – is Eskendereya the real deal? If he is, then we may have a compelling Triple Crown after all.

Along with the standard 126 lbs, Eskendereya will be saddled with The Todd's losing and streak and Zayat's karma.

Along with the standard 126 lbs, Eskendereya will be saddled with The Todd's losing streak and Zayat's karma.

Undefeated on dirt, Eskendereya destroyed his competition in the Fountain of Youth and then the Wood Memorial. A heavily muscled colt, he does not give the impression of stamina, but he’s bred to go the distance and had no problems with a 1 1/8 miles. This reminds me of another chestnut colt, whose name begins with S and ends with ecratariat, but it’s poor form to ever make a comparion to the Meadow Stable star. He’s ridden by The Todd’s mainstay jockey, the excellent John Velazquez. Unfortunately, he is owned by world class moron/chauvinist Ahmed Zayat. Pay attention. He will say at least one egregiously stupid and/or insulting thing before the Triple Crown is over. Zayat, by the way, was the idiot who led an actual conspiracy in an attempt to block Rachel Alexandra from entering last year’s Preakness. When caught he threw the new guy (Mine That Bird’s owner) under the bus and then started talking about Eight Belles, because PETA didn’t have enough fun with that the first time around. Thanks, Zayat. That was awesome.

But Eskendereya is not the only horse in the race! Let’s look at two other strong contenders!

Sidney’s Candy – Named after Jenny Craig’s dead husband, Sid – although I’m not sure if he was already dead before the horse was named or what – Sidney’s Candy is the a very quick son of Candy Ride. To be honest, I don’t find Sidney’s Candy very inspiring. I think this is likely due to his name being Sidney’s Candy. But, my prejudice against his name aside, the horse has done nothing wrong. He is trained by Southern California veteran conditioner John Sadler and ridden by the wunderkind Joe Talamo. Last year Joe was on the Derby favorite, I Want Revenge, but the horse was scratched the morning of the race. Joe is back this year on a horse that should be third choice. One thing about Sidney’s Candy – he closes. And if you’re going to win a Derby, you need a horse who can close. It would be no surprise to see the roses over Sidney’s Candy’s withers this year.

Lookin' at Lucky

The very kind and loving Lucky.

Lookin’ At Lucky – the most inappropriately named horse in the field. Trained by silver-haired comedian Bob Baffert and owned by Bob’s old friend Mike Pegram (the team that brought you 1998 Derby winner Real Quiet), Lucky has a talent for finding traffic trouble. He’s a hard trying horse and always finds a way to keep coming. He is ridden by Garret Gomez, a former superstar who has made a successful comeback after an extended hiatus (it took awhile for him to put every last dollar up his nose). Gomez has not only reached his previous level of success, he has surpassed it. It has taken him a tremendous amount of work to get sober and work his way back to the top  – it would be nice to see it rewarded.

One Final Note – There is another place in this year’s Derby where the theme of dominance comes to the fore – this year’s edition is overwhelmingly dominated by horses who win on the lead. The first turn is always crowded, but this year I wouldn’t be surprised to see some horses floated 8 wide. A supposed knock on Eskendereya is his need for the lead. Frankly, I don’t see it. I think he’ll be happy to stalk. That said, if there’s one horse in the race who has shown he can come from anywhere it’s the supremely versatile Lookin’ at Lucky.

I’ll be making additional posts as the Derby gets closer to highlight intriguing longshots, horses who are relishing the Churchill surface, and other odds and ends.

In Honor of the Shamrock

For most everyone, St. Patrick’s Day means wearing green and pinching those that don’t, it might mean corned beef and cabbage or perhaps green beer. And while St. Patrick’s Day means all of that to me and more, it is also the day I pause to remember Charron’s Shamrock, also known as Rocky, the greatest 14.2 hand Arab Quarter Horse cross that ever lived.

I’ve written about Rocky before, but in deference to my sister, Rocky’s human partner for 20 plus years, I have written about him from a neutral perspective. I’d like to put down some personal recollections of the horse with a million nicknames, including, but not limited to: Roo, Rooster, Roo-ger, Charron of Shamrock, and Rock ‘n’ Roll.

blue ribbon

The God given giant blue ribbon.

When I was three years old, I began competing with Rocky in lead line. Lead line is an event where someone leads the horse on the ground while a child rides the horse at a walk. They are judged on their equitation. Equitation meaning, how pretty you look in the saddle. I was a fierce competitor. Heels down, eyes up, elbows in, my little heart dreaming of nothing but blue ribbons. I felt Rocky was the prettiest horse in the ring, giving me a leg up on the other children, who, likely as not, didn’t realize that lead line was a matter of life and death. It was upon Rocky’s back that I made my first deal with God. I had noticed in the show office a giant blue ribbon, a blue ribbon almost as big as me. I had my suspicion that this ribbon was intended for the lead line class. As we awaited the judge’s decision the ribbons were brought out, and lo! There it was! “Dear God,” I prayed, “if you give me that giant blue ribbon I will never ask for anything ever again.” And then the angels sang! The blue ribbon was mine! Rocky and I had scored the victory! It would not be our last.

Rocky was a phenomenally intelligent horse. Sometimes, on the way home from school, I’d cut through the horse pasture. On one occasion I paused to tie my shoe, my belongings piled around me. Rocky sneaked up and grabbed a construction paper art project I had rolled up like a newspaper. He went galloping away, the paper in his mouth, his tail flagged up over his back, tossing his head left and right, each time catching my eye to taunt me, “I have your art project! I have your art project!” On a later date he recreated this episode, this time snagging my lunchbox. I, of course, found his antics delightful. Even when he bucked me off – and let me tell you, if I fell off Rocky once, I fell off Rocky 100 times – it was funny. Despite the fact he had a special knack for making my face slam into his neck as I bounced my way towards the ground, invariably causing a bloody nose. Somehow, with Rocky, this was just entertaining. 

Once I reached the 3rd grade I started showing Rocky in the regular classes. The day of my first show dawned and I was petrified. Ms. Thomas, my teacher, showed up to root me on. I entered my first walk, trot, and canter class and spent the entire time talking to Rocky at mile a minute. So many horses would have taken advantage of a small, freaked-out-of-their-gourd human on their back, but Rocky did the exact opposite. He took care of me every step of the way, and I won a sixth place ribbon. (I didn’t deserve it – the judge was giving Rocky a merit badge with that one.) Once I exited the arena Ms. Thomas came up to me, her face perplexed. “You know,” she said, “I’d thought to myself, here’s the one place Carrie can’t talk. But you never stopped.” I shrugged. It’s not like I didn’t have someone to talk to out there. I had Rocky.

That year at the King County Fair the monsoons came. Again, Rocky took care of me. In bareback equitation I almost fell off in the pouring rain. But this was no novelty – the entire class was coming apart at the seams. I looked to the stands and my sister and mom were waving me on. “Keep going! The judge didn’t see you!” they yelled. The best that could be said of that year was I survived, thanks entirely to Rocky. The next time the Fair came around it was a different story. Rocky and I were now a well-oiled machine. Nothing made me happy but championship ribbons. Not even Reserve Champion would suffice. Rocky had spoiled me.

In the sixth grade I got my own horse, a chestnut Quarter Horse. Charron’s Shamrock he was not, and the well of gaudy ribbons I had come to take for granted ran dry. I still competed Rocky occasionally, and together we won a bronze medal. It was something I had worked towards for ages, and it was a joyous occasion. It was the last thing Rocky and I won together.

While still in his prime, Rocky was aging and he had been shown a lot over the course of his life. Being a horse who knew his own mind, he decided he was done. His show career was over. It took us a little longer than Rocky to realize it, however. I took Rocky into a huntseat class and as soon as they asked for a trot Rocky bolted, bucking and rearing up a storm. He was letting me know where he stood, and while I respected that, I also couldn’t help but laugh hysterically. As I went flying past on my bronc I saw so many concerned faces. I wanted to announce, “So terribly sorry! Just having a bit of a tiff, here! We’ll be through in a minute!” But all I could do was hang on and laugh. We finally came to a stop in the center of the arena. The judge came running up, thinking I was crying. I got off Rocky and gave him a pat on the neck. It was our last class together. Somehow, it was perfectly apt.

Rocky

Rocky, during his retirement years in South Carolina.

Not long after that Rocky moved to Georgia with my sister. Then came back to Seattle. Then he went back, this time to South Carolina. I was living in L.A. and didn’t get to see Rocky much, but I reveled in each visit. He survived bladder stone surgery and subsequent sepsis, founder, and the onset of Cushings Disease. He was an old horse now, but still himself, still glorious.

It was Christmas time when Rocky reached the end stage of life. We tried to put Rocky down before Christmas. I remember driving up to the barn with my sister and feeling such a raw sense of horror and panic. I think I kept it well covered – I needed to be strong for my sister. I had lost pets before. But Rocky was more than that, Rocky was an institution. I was greatly relieved when they decided to put off euthanasia. He had seemed so vibrantly alive, even the vet couldn’t handle the idea of him dying on that day.

During this time Rocky was struggling with his feet and it was important they be kept picked out. We all took shifts with Rocky to tend to his needs. One cold, December night I went out to the barn. I asked Rocky for his hoof – the easy one first – and he gave it to me. And then I asked for his other front. It required Rocky to shift his weight on to his painful left front. He couldn’t do it. He couldn’t give me his hoof. I just stood there petting him, telling him it was okay, he didn’t have to do anything at this point. After a few minutes of petting, Rocky walked over to his stall wall, leaned his left shoulder against it, and lifted his right front hoof.

The next time the vet came out there was no raw horror and panic, just the knowledge that it was time.

Over my life I have known some great horses. But above them all rises a little bay Arab cross gelding by the name of Charron’s Shamrock, who came into the world on St. Patrick’s Day.

Conversations with a Drunk Horse

Bob

Affable Bob, in more sober times.

Recently, I’ve been handwalking my friend’s horse. We will call him Bob. (It’s not good form to out those with substance abuse problems.) Bob went into a period of stall rest as a very fit thoroughbred. As you can imagine, he has built up some excess energy during this time of recuperation. So to make these walks safe for Bob, safe for me, safe for surrounding inanimate objects, Bob goes into these walks drunk. Or rather, on acepromazine, aka ACE. Every horse reacts a little differently to ACE. Not surprisingly, the affable Bob becomes the 1,100 pound version of that guy we’ve all found ourselves babysitting at one time or another.

He comes out of his stall ready to rock. Head up, steps quick, I have to jog to keep up with his long-legged strides. “Where’s the party at?” Bob says. Adding a gratuitous, “WOOOO!!!!”

I determinedly try to steer him along a flat path. “C’mon, buddy, let’s just walk around in circles over here.” Suddenly, Bob makes a screaming right hand turn. “I WANNA GO OVER THERE!” he shouts. This, however, is better than the occasional screaming left hand turn he makes directly into me. He looks up, eyes bleary, “I totally didn’t realize you were there, man! I love you, dude,” Bob slurs. I give him a pet on the neck and assure him, “no blood, no foul,” and we continue on our weaving way.

Eventually, his pace slows. His head dives down. “Dead leaves!” Bob hollers. “I need to eat these dead leaves!” I haul on his head, trying to get him to lift it, “no, Bob,” I say, “you don’t want to eat those dead leaves, I promise you.” “Okay,” he agrees, once again walking full steam ahead. “A clump of hay! I DEFINITELY want this hay!” I let him stop and eat the three errant stems of hay. “This hay is so good,” Bob says. “This is the best hay I’ve ever had.”

Fifteen minutes in and Bob starts getting tired. “What if I just curled up and went to sleep here on the sidewalk?” he suggests. “You guys could come get me later.” I tell him this is not a good idea. “Let’s get you back home, buddy,” I say. With much manuevering we negotiate a little hill and he finds himself back in his stall. “Oh. I’m here,” Bob says. “Did I eat some dead leaves?” I assure him that no such thing happened, and tuck him into bed. “I could have sworn I ate some dead leaves.” I give him one last pet on the neck and tell him I’ll see him Friday. “It’s going to be awesome!” Bob yells. I agree, it will be awesome.

The Misfit Mare

In the 1964 Christmas classic, Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer, Rudolph winds up on the Island of Misfit Toys because none of the other reindeer would include him in their reindeer games.

So too with Ginger, a small bay Morgan mare. Upon arrival at the equestrian center, Ginger was placed with the other trail horses, but they refused to accept her into the herd. Their refusal was violent, lasting, and Ginger found herself a home in the main barn, where she was befriended by the twenty year old Shetland pony Sugar. Sugar is adored by all horses who meet her, as she provides unconditional love to all she meets. And so Ginger made her first friend.

Ginger, having made this friend, was extremely protective of her, challenging any horse who came near Sugar. To say that Ginger was quirky is an understatement. By the time I arrived at the barn, Ginger had a serious attitude problem. We used her on trails only at last resort, as she would pin her ears, toss her head, and otherwise express her displeasure. She was, in short, an extremely unhappy horse when I met her. I wanted very much to see what I could do with her, but my manager at the time pronounced that Ginger was her project horse, and forbade me from working with her.

Two months passed and the manager threw up her hands – Ginger’s problems had only worsened. On a day the manager had off, I took Ginger into the round pen. Many people have heard of “horse whispering” or natural horsemanship. The idea is simply to work a horse in a round pen until they relinquish the leadership role to the person. Hugh Jenkinson watched as I worked Ginger that first time. Ginger was so angry, had so much venom built up inside her. Hugh kept voicing his concern as she raced around the ring, expressing all of her rage, expressing it by kicking out at me, rearing in front of me, striking at me. Horses don’t require words to scream.

Eventually, it was all out of her system. She came over to me, quietly, her sides heaving as she gulped for air. I talked to her, and she put her forehead to my chest, and I stroked her ears, listening to everything she had to say. We stayed like that for a long time. Just as horses don’t require words to scream, they also don’t require a voice to cry.

From that day forward I worked with Ginger everyday. Almost immediately, she came to love these one on one sessions. Looking back over the last two years at the barn, I can think of no memory more gratifying than that of Ginger, racing towards me as I called her name, coming from the far back of the pasture flat out, a blood bay blur against the green grass. She ran to me knowing no treats were in my hand, knowing that a training session awaited, a session with both discipline and approval. Ginger, however, was an extremely intelligent mare, and very little correction was needed. She learned quickly and drank up the praise as fast as I could pour it on. Ginger had made her second friend.

Ginger

Ginger, with her very favorite rider, Bryce.

Over time Ginger’s attitude continued to improve, and eventually she blossomed into an excellent trail horse, a horse who found a niche carrying children. Adults could wear on her nerves, and she remained a quirky soul with definite opinions, but no horse was more trustworthy with a small child on the trail. She understood vulnerability, and she was protective of it. She also understood mistreatment, and she had no tolerance for it. I never put a rider on Ginger that I suspected might be rough on her.

After working day in and day out with the rest of the trail horses for two years, the decision was made to put Ginger in with the herd a few months ago. To Ginger’s delight, this time she was accepted. She was low man on the totem pole, to be sure, but she was a part of the group. Her pride in this fact was evident, and we all celebrated with her when she earned the right to eat with everyone else. She was finally allowed to play the reindeer games denied her for so long.

People and horses either click or they don’t. Ginger and I clicked right off the bat. In my first week at the barn, I found Ginger scratching out her tail. Whatever was itching her was ferocious, as she was rubbing herself raw and bloody. Alarmed, I went to her head and said, “don’t move, Ginger, I’ll be right back.” I ran to the utility room to grab ointments and cleanser and ran back. Ginger remained frozen, right where I left her, waiting for the help that I had promised. She had been blessed with a gorgeous, thick, glossy black tail. I felt it was a travesty that half of it was gone, and made it a special mission to encourage it’s re-growth.

Ginger’s tail was halfway grown out when she died on Thursday, August 24th, of a severe bout with colic.

Ginger was a beautiful bay Morgan mare, possessed of good looks galore and a personality that defied categorization. She could lay her ears back and deliver nasty looks with the best of them, but she could also curl her head and neck around you, looking into your eyes with hers, impossibly large and black, slowly blinking in loving contentment. I understood her, and she me. We both understood the Island of the Misfit Toys, and that mutual understanding brought us both a great deal of peace and happiness.

The Trail Ride -or- The Day I Almost Killed One of My Best Friends

Yesterday, my friends, I went on a trail ride that will live on in infamy as the single greatest cluster to have occurred at our fine equestrian center.

It began more than a month ago, when Mr. Jones came by the barn. He was asking if he and his friends could park here. They were all going to “car pool” down to an Atlanta Falcons game, the “car” was a gigantic luxury coach bus they’d rented, and it needed room to turn around. We said sure they could do that, and Mr. Jones added that his son, his wife and three kids were coming for Thanksgiving and they wanted to ride horses on the Saturday following Thanksgiving. We said that’d be great.

The Falcons game arrives, and again Mr. Jones mentions the ride. They wanted a ride for four, but Ginger has been out with an abcess. They amended the ride to three adults and two kids for a pony ride. He says, “make the reservation for after lunch.” Then gets on the bus and leaves. Well, “after lunch” really isn’t too specific, and we’d already booked one ride in the early afternoon. I begin a game of phone tag with Mr. Jones that goes on forever, and he’s clearly annoyed by it. Which, in turn, annoys me. Finally, we connect and I book him for noon.

Now, a month goes by. Our schedule becomes so complicated with families booking, canceling, re-booking, changing their schedule, on and on, you’d need a flow chart to follow it. And also, three days ago, Butter’s arthritis flared up to the point she was put on stall rest.

Now, we have a black book in the office where rides are scheduled, and a giant erase board calendar on the wall outside. Somewhere in all that hullabaloo, that Jones family disappeared.

On Saturday we started very early. I had two pony rides, given two one hour lessons, ran to get lunch, because we had the Whitakers at noon, and when I came back – there were Joneses. There for the 11:30 ride. (11:30??? I have no idea where that came from.)

OHHHHHH NOOOOOOOOOO….. Says I. In that deep, distorted-by-slow-motion sort of way.

Melissa and I go into frantic mode.

Melissa

Melissa, aboard Gigi, leads a trail ride. This one did not involve a near death experience.

There was much confusion and chaos, but ultimately we ended up with the little girl on Lady, the brother on Scout, the dad (a complete novice) – on Gigi – our new horse who had never been ridden EVER by anyone other than a very experienced rider, and the mom on Ginger.  Please do not call PETA on us. Melissa and I debated it long and hard, and Ginger had not been limping, she was six weeks out from her abcess, and so we put a boot on her and off we went.

Melissa and I are on foot.

I lead the way, with Lady behind me, and I have to set a wicked pace so the horses don’t get too jammed up – they need to be properly strung out. Plus, I had adrenaline on my side. Right as we’re leaving the arena, me in the front and Melissa in the back with the dad and Gigi, Melissa says, “can you do this by yourself?”

I practically yell, “NO. I need you with me.” Melissa laughs, “I’m not sure I am going to make it.”

I start cursing Melissa in my mind. What the hell is she doing? Trying to abandon me with these four complete novice riders, most of whom have never even sat on a horse before. I was angry. And so I walked faster. Now, I am short, but when I want to walk fast, I can hustle. So we’re flying along this trail, it’s an hour long, a lot of hills. And I mean HILLS.

We get halfway around. Now, we did this trail THE DAY PRIOR. What is in our way? A gigantic tree that has fallen across the trail during the night. It was semi-rotted, but truly a massive tree. At least 14 inches in diameter. We couldn’t walk over it because of the limbs and because that trail is like a gulley – the tree had fallen, hit the other side, broke in the middle and sat there making a V shape. I told Melissa to stay with the riders, that I was going to move it. I go over there and try to move it. There is no way. But I think, maybe I can break off enough limbs that they can walk over. So I am struggling with this, and Melissa says, gruffly, “you can’t move it so stop trying.”

 Nobody tells me I can’t move a downed tree. It is what I do.

I grab a limb and haul one end off, but I can’t let it go or it’ll roll back into the way. So everybody has to pass me while I am holding it in place. The mom was seriously freaked out. 

We continue on, and as Melissa led the group past the tree, she wound up in front and now I was back with the dad and Gigi. And he starts going on and on about how wonderful she is. He’d only ever ridden his sister’s Appaloosas, he said, and they’d thrown him twice. Gigi was a “babydoll” he said. Which made me smile. 

He also said he knew his dad was furious about the reservation problem but that he’d talk to him. 

We’re getting kind of close to the end, and kind of close to the end is one gigantic mother of a hill that goes straight up forever and forever. Melissa stops and says, “you’ll have to take the lead.” I’m thinking she needs a break from setting the pace, so I take over and march up the hill. Now, once you get to the top of this hill a bad thing happens – it keeps climbing. Not nearly as steep, but you don’t get a break. So I am climbing and climbing, head down, just doing it. This goes on forever. We finally reconnect with the main trail. The dad says, “I guess we lost somebody.”

What? I say.

“Yeah, Melissa’s not there anymore. I guess she got tired.”

Everything inside me freezes – MELISSA IS SEVERELY DIABETIC.

“Can you do this by yourself? I don’t think I can make it.”

Code words from a diabetic trying to tell her friend that her insulin pump isn’t working. What does her friend yell back?

“NO. I need you to come with me.”

I THEN REMEBER I DON’T HAVE MY CELL PHONE.

I tell the family Melissa is a diabetic and the father offers me Gigi. I say that’s okay, and I run as fast and as hard as I can back down the trail. There is no Melissa within 200 yards. I come back, and tell the dad that yes, I will take his horse. I would have rather had Lady, but I couldn’t take the horse from the little girl, Ginger was hurt, Scout had a little boy on him – only Gigi makes sense. But Gigi is young, green, and extremely herdbound. EXTREMELY herdbound. She’s only been taught one thing – walk on a trail.

The dad offers me his helmet and I decline – I remembered he was wearing a large, and that’s too big for me, and I can’t take a helmet off of anybody else. I don’t adjust the long, long stirrups, because I am figuring I am going to find Melissa and put her up on Gigi and she has such long legs.

I dramatically tell the dad, “I need you to lead your family back to the barn!” It was very Last of the Mohicans.

And off Gigi and I go, and bless her heart, she gives me no problem. Except she’s definitely freaking out on the inside, wondering what’s going on, feeling my tension, but I just keep telling her what a brave mare she is, and she believes me. We run back to where we last saw Melissa – there’s no Melissa. I cannot figure out where she could have gone. I run up the big long steep hill, and at the top of that hill is Petey the Mule’s pasture. He belongs to a neighbor. We race to the top of the hill, and Petey appears, spooking Gigi, who rears and wheels.

Now, you could say I fell off, but I think it is more accurate to say I made an emergency dismount.  I landed on my feet in any case, and took this as a sign that I needed to go ahead and shorten the stirrups.

I get back on and decide to head to the gatehouse. As the crow flies it’s not far away, and I figure if Melissa realized she was in trouble, she may have gone there. In any case, I can ask for help. Between Gigi and I and the gatehouse is woods, Petey’s pasture, and manicured landscaping that lines the drive to the gatehouse.

Unbelievably Gigi is incredibly brave and generous about wading through woods, snaking along Petey’s pasture, and putting a good number of hoofprints into the landscaped hillside.

We then go trotting right down the middle of Cleo Chapman Highway, as I am hoping the guard will see us and come out. That part was actually kind of cool. Our gatehouse is very grand, and I thought that this must of have been what it was like coming up to a big estate before there were cars.

Anyway, fantasyland aside, the stupid guard sees us, but won’t come out. So Gigi and I have to go through the gate like a car. I tell him what’s going on and circle while he’s making calls. Gigi doesn’t mind the traffic too much, but not getting anywhere, just circling, is making her antsy.

Finally the guard finds Melissa – she’d regained consciousness and cut straight through the woods towards the Equestrian Center, and because she had her cell phone, was able to call Hugh the maintenance man for help, and he had come and gotten her. She was okay.

So, there is nothing for it but to hoof it down Cleo Chapman Highway. We have ten minutes before our next ride, and Gigi and are I needed.

We trot along the side of the road for about a ½ a mile. Everybody who passes us waves, like oh look! Isn’t it nice to see a girl out for a ride on her white horse! And I wave back like, yeah! The last hour and a half have been fantastic!

Gigi and I arrived on time, and after a brief break, where Melissa and I strangely spent about ten minutes laughing hysterically, we took out an incredibly uneventful ride with the Whitakers, who had kindly allowed their ride to be bumped back to one.

 The end.