This newest acquaintance is actually a French woman in her late thirties who until just two weeks ago hailed from Aberdeen, Scotland in the UK. She and her husband are in the process of relocating to Bakersfield. They work in the oil industry; she's a geologist and he's some kind of oil rig engineer. "Aberdeen" is also a dressage rider!
She found me through my web site, of course. She is shipping her horses here in a few months and was looking for well, everything. She needs a vet, farrier, feed store, barn, arena, chiropractor, saddle fitter, etc. She came out to my barn one afternoon a week or so ago for a little get-to-know-you. She seemed very nice, so we planned a small trail ride for this past Friday.
By the time Sydney was saddled and ready to go, Aberdeen had done a little walk, trot, and canter and felt ready to leave the property. It takes a fair amount of trust to get on someone else's horse and hit the trail based solely on a "yeah, my horse is great out on the trail." I think she was able to tell that Speedy is a pretty broke Dude and that he wasn't interested in dumping her.
We rode around the neighborhood which took about 40 minutes. We stopped and visited with one of the neighbor's kids one of whom actually ran back into the house for a bag of carrots; smart kid! When I asked whether their mom had sent them with the carrots, the boy replied that he had just taken them out of the refrigerator on his own. None of them were more than 10 years old, but they sure knew how to win over a pony!
Speedy is an absolute champ with kids. Even though the little girl, who wasn't older than four, stood right next to Speedy in her little bare feet, he stood perfectly still while they stuffed him full of baby carrots. He let all three of them rub his head and ears and pet his soft nose without complaint. He always drops his heads for kids. He just really digs them.
Sydney even got in on the action once he realized that snacks were to be had. He's not as welcoming in his demeanor as is Speedy G, and he's also a bit intimidating due to his size. Even so, he was able to con them out of a few carrots as well.
We rode the rest of the way just chatting and getting to know each other. At one point, Aberdeen commented that Speedy wasn't very speedy. I just laughed and replied that he is fantastic except when he isn't! Sure enough, we got to the trouble spot. Speedy hates one particular section of this route. Something always bothers him there. Usually it's the sprinklers popping up all around him, but this time, there were roofers nailing and hammering just over our heads.
The workers willingly paused in their work as we passed by, but even so both horses were very light on their toes and anxious to get moving away from the noise. Aberdeen laughed at Speedy's antics and told me that she believed me now. We made it back to the barn without further incident, and untacked both horses to let them graze in the yard as we continued sharing stories.
After we tucked the boys back in their stalls, we ended up going for some lunch at my favorite burger joint. The plan is to trailer out next weekend for another ride. By then, Aberdeen's gear will have arrived which should make her feel much more comfortable. We'll see how it goes.