cate chestnut mare

The test subject!

By Cate Jones

Step 1) Catch horse from pasture. You didn’t have room in the trunk of your Jetta for a saddle, so all you have is a bridle and willpower. It’s mud season, so make sure that you get as much heavy mud on your boots as possible while running back and forth across ten acres in an attempt to catch your horse. This will help weigh you down later in the exercise.

Step 2) Realize that you don’t have a mounting block and you don’t think that climbing on from the hood of your car is the greatest idea. It worked when you were 10, but probably won’t now that you’re 25. Line mare up to the fence and attempt to climb on that way. Acknowledge the fact that George Morris would not approve of this method.

Step 3) Catch mare.

Step 4) Scrap mud off your backside and attempt to mount again from the fence. Grab mane so that you don’t repeat the somersault over her shoulder when she puts her head down to eat grass. Remain topside this time, and drag mare’s head up from the lovely patch of grass. Crinkle candy wrapper as incentive.

Step 5) Point mare towards direction of the pond. You’ve decided that since she’s going to be an event horse, she has to be okay with water, and that is your goal for today. Enjoy scenery and give mare loose rein.

Step 6) Catch mare.

Step 7) Fetch neck strap out of car, remount, and walk towards the pond again. This time WITH PURPOSE. Tell yourself you won’t try to take anymore “between the ears” pictures until you’re sure you won’t fall off again when mare hears the shutter click sound and levitates sideways.

Step 8) Get to pond. Gather reins as mare’s head has shot up at the sight of the body of water and you question that she actually is a Thoroughbred and not a Saddlebred. Mare freezes and snorts. Maybe she’s an Arabian?

Step 9) Catch mare.

Step 10) Apologize for Arabian comment. Remount, grab neck strap, and squeeze WITH PURPOSE. Homegirl is GOING to get into the water. TODAY. Squeeze harder. Kick. Flail. Mare takes a baby step towards pond. Lavish mare with candy and praise.

Step 11) Mare is now standing at the edge of the pond. She’s a little tense. You have a very firm grip on your neck strap. Kick WITH PURPOSE. Cluck. Beg. Plead. Pray. SIT BACK. Please. Just sit back.

Step 12) Shake hands with the nice folks at the NASA space station, as your mare has just launched herself into outer space in an attempt to clear the entire one acre pond. Sit back upon landing, as mare will realize she failed to clear the entire pond, and will launch herself again. Confirm in the back of your mind that mare is a bit of a drama queen. Wish you had brought a snorkel, as you are fairly sure the amount of water that mare is kicking up in her temper tantrum will drown you.

Step 13) Mare is now standing still in the middle of the pond. Glaring at you. Surpress shiver of fear about the retaliatory thoughts probably going through her head. She is chestnut, after all. Pat her and tell her she is the most wonderful creature in the world. Shovel lots of candy in her face.

Step 14) Catch mare.

Step 15) Remount, somehow, in the middle of the pond and wonder what possessed you to let go of the neck strap. Must have been red horse Jedi mind trickery. Wish you had gotten more mud on your boots during step one, as you really could have used more of an anchor. Pat mare, walk small circle in water. Grip neck strap firmly as you direct mare out of water. Wave to NASA as you launch yourselves onto dry land.

Step 16) Ride mare back to pasture, dismount, and praise thoroughly. Pat yourself on the back as you survived. Duck as massive mud clods are thrown in your direction, as mare bolts away at mach 90 to rejoin her friends.

Step 17) Call mare up for dinner that night. Notice she isn’t with the group. Walk into pasture and over the hill to find mare standing in the middle of the pond in her field, staring at you as if to say, “What? I love the water, Mom!” Shake your head and accept defeat. Ponder possible career in the Dressage ring.