Tuesday, January 5, 2010

From the Date Night Archives: Horseback Picnic, Part Two

If you missed Part One of this enchanting tail (haha, like a horse's tail, get it? cheeseball), you can read it here. Or, ya know, just scroll down a lil bit.

This whole idea for a romantic horseback picnic originated with a wicker picnic basket I received at my bridal shower in Katy. So, really, this whole resulting mess of a date can entirely be blamed on the Gwaltneys. It's one of those old-fashioned looking wicker baskets, lined with fabric and closed with a metal clasp. For some reason, I always imagined a perfect picnic would include homemade fried chicken, potato salad, and pie, all wrapped in wax paper and tucked away in such a daahhling basket as the one I was now a proud owner of. But, then again, I think my brain is all a muck with cliches because my mental picnic also involves a parasol and Laurie putting combs in my hair before I tell him I'm going to marry Fred Vaughn. Anyways... none of the above manifested in the reality of this date. And because the picnic basket came already packed with assorted cheeses, crackers, wine, and other goodies, that was gonna work juuuussst fine. Sorry, Laurie. Next time, chicken fry.

Tanner and I (well, mostly I) had been talking about this picnic for a while, but actually decided to do it on the spur of the moment one boring evening when we realized that it would be winter pretty soon and picnics are not so fun when it's 38 degrees. We were hoping to time the actual picnic for sunset, cuz duh that's soooo romantic, so we rushed outside to get the horses ready. Things seemed destined for perfection, because instead of running around the pasture in a infuriating game of "catch me if you can," the horses waited patiently while we haltered them and tacked up. I stuffed my saddle bag full of multiple blanket choices and an assortment of gloves, sweater, vest, and jacket options; ya know, in case the plates shifted and we were thrown into alternating hemispheres at random. I rolled up a pallet, mounted up, had Tanner tie on the picnic basket, and we headed off down the road.

That, is when I realized that with every step Stetson took, that precious (and surprisingly heavy) picnic basket was going to whack me not so gently in the leg. That is when I began wondering if wicker crosshatch motifs imprinted in the skin might come in fashion. That is when I realized Stetson and I could go no faster than a walk, to prevent my shin from breaking in half. And, that is when I realized that Pepper and Tanner were doing everything BUT walking at a leisurely pace.

You see, the last time Tanner rode Pepper, Britney Spears was dating Justin Timberlake. Despite the fact that Pepper has thrown us both, breaking my pelvis and nearly dislocating Tanner's shoulder, Tanner just kinds hops on him with that foolish fearless male attitude and heads off down the kaliche road. Did I mention it's a road made of hard, jaggedy little rocks? Did I also mention that Pepper seemed to not recall how to steer or maintain a consistent speed? Hand holding as we piddled down lovers lane was apparently not an option. Instead, as we headed down the road toward our neighbor's pasture, I was left in a cloud of kaliche dust, as Tanner and Pepper waged an epic battle of man vs. animal. They zigged, and zagged, and circled, and gallopped, and backed, and side stepped, and all the while, Tanner artfully painted the dimming sky with his colorful expressions -- none of which I will repeat here. I sensed the romance dwindling as Tanner's face, red with frustration, led our mismatched party through the pasture like a beacon. Me plunking along on my antisocial, Eeyore of a horse, who was trying repeatedly to yank the reins out of my hands so he could snatch grass, and Tanner and Pepper rapidly burning a trail trail straight to.... well, ya know.

So we trespassed down to our neighbor's pond (well, they told us about a year ago that we were welcome to ride there, and we decided to belatedly take them up on it), because I thought that would be a romantic spot. We all made it there in one piece, unpacked out gear, and hobbled the horses (which involves tying their front two legs together so they can only take tiny little steps).

It was looking like things might calm down. Tanner had exercised the limits of his vocabulary, and was starting to cool off. So we plopped down at our spot and opened up our treasure trove of goodies. After taking turns screaming at the dogs, begging them to stay out of the pond, and then after they didn't listen, employing mixed martial arts techniques to keep them from tracking muck all over our blanket, we uncorked the wine and started eating.

That's when I realized that we were not the only lovers who found this particular picnic spot enticing. We were joined by hoards of mosquito lovers, and apparently all of their resulting offspring. While biting into an olive, I notice a dingy halo hovering above Tanner's head.
"Ummm.... Tanner. Is that a thought cloud?"

"Are there a bunch of mosquitos circling my head?"
"Well.... there's like a whole mosquito situation thing going on above your head."

Although he claimed he was not being bitten, the little bug cloud stayed perched above his head, and only his head, for the rest of the evening.

As it turned out. We perfectly timed unpacking the picnic basket with the sun setting. It was a beautiful sunset. Magestic. Awe-inspiring.

And it lasted about 2 minutes.

Then, it was pretty much dark. I mean, we could see, but barely. I could see just enough to witness Pepper's head pop up in the air, ears alert, eyes buggin', nostrils flared, etc. Who knows what he saw, or thought he saw, or might have heard. But he was gone in a flash. Stirrups flapping at his side and tail in the air, he took off like, well, like he always does. This time, though, he was three-legged.

If you've never seen a horse run with hobbles on, it's a morbid combination of hilarious and terrifying. Their two front legs become one, and they paw forward in an awkward plop, with the hind following behind. And since horses carry most of their weight on their front end, when you give them one leg to balance on as they run, it's a lumbering, frightful spectacle to say the least. And Pepper wasn't just hopping along, I mean he was booking it, clodding up and down uneven terrain in the dark, teetering on the verge of falling and breaking his neck. And of course, Stetson had no choice but to follow suit. I'm not sure why, but Tanner retrieved the horses, brought them back closer to our picnic site, and sat back down, hoping to continue our picnic in the dark. Of course, they thundered off again a few minutes later, running even deeper into the farthest corners of our neighbors' property.

So, in the dark, we stuffed our faces with the last of the hummus, gathered up all our junk in our arms (including my wardrobe options), and trekked through the hay looking for our trustworthy mounts.

On the way home, Pepper exerted the last of his engery, again going about a million miles a minute down the trail. There was a fleeting moment, between Tanner running Pepper in circles, when we crossed paths and shared a kiss. And maybe that's why, after it all, when we had returned home and I had ungrafted the seat of my pants from my skin, I started planning our next horseback picnic.


  1. This only further confirms my opinion on horses!

  2. That picture of digger and pepper? is awesome. What a funny story. A thought cloud made of mosquitoes. This should definitely be part of that book you are planning on writing! Loved all the allusions too. I know, nerdy English teacher talk blah blah blah.



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