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Spookfest

By Cindy Hale

Friday, October 28, 2011

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Is it really Halloween? Wasn’t it just Fourth of July?

Despite my muddled time frame, I can’t ignore the abundance of Halloween decorations. They’ve suddenly cropped up in the front yards that border the bridle paths. Oh joy. The holidays are upon us. Between the Frankensteins, witches and tombstones of October and the giant snow globes and blow-up Santas throughout December, the trail horses in town either get de-sensitized or have psychotic meltdowns.

Fortunately, both of my guys are very ho-hum. They’ve long since seen it all before.

Wally's view

Fortunately, Wally seems more interested in the lush green lawn than the wagon load of Halloween ghouls in this front yard.

Yet don’t think I haven’t ridden my share of spooky horses.

Perhaps the most memorable was a bay mare we had many years ago. Her name was Crack a Lou, and she was as cute as a ladybug and about the size of one, too. At the time we were breeding Thoroughbreds for the racetrack, and Crack a Lou came from a line of dependable producers. Since she was still sound after her racing career I figured she’d make a good trail horse when she wasn’t heavy in foal. Most of the time I rode her bareback, which made my involuntary dismounts sleek and seamless, like some sort of equestrian ballet movement. Rather than getting tangled in tack, I simply slid off. And it happened quite regularly.

Back then, our horsekeeping town was very rural; no freeway, no Target store, no housing tracts. But we did have a lot of peach-colored boulders that popped out of the hillsides, not unlike monolithic pumpkins. Invariably I’d be jogging along on dainty little Crack a Lou, listening to the katydids and mockingbirds and… whoosh! She’d spot a suspicious lump of granite, spin around and bolt in the opposite direction. I felt like a cartoon character. First the horse is underneath me and then, magically, it’s gone! I swear I’d be suspended for a second or two before gravity would take hold and I’d hit the ground. Fortunately, Crack a Lou was comparable to the size of the average cart pony, so I didn’t have far to fall. I’d dust off the foxtails, grab the reins and a handful of black mane, and shimmy up on her back again. Then we’d ride some more until we came upon the next bunch of menacing rocks.

I’m sure that many of you have ridden spooky horses, too. Maybe you’re even dealing with one now. Most of these horses get better over time, providing they’re ridden with confidence. But in the meantime we get treated to some of the wildest tricks in the horse world. And that can be scarier than any Halloween haunted house. Quite honestly, I ain’t ‘fraid of no ghosts because I’ve spent plenty of time riding spooky horses.

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Jill    Yorba Linda, CA

10/30/2011 7:51:22 PM

Cindy's sister in: I must LOL here. As witness to many of Cindy's involuntary dismounts from Crack a Lou, I have to say there was indeed a lag time between when the mare disappeared and Cindy hit the ground. Like seconds. They were Wiley Coyote moments ... and I cherish them all.

Emily    -, PA

10/28/2011 4:30:20 PM

Amen! I've known many spooky trail horses, many of which I still know. Despite their frequent psycho moments, they're very reliable, and we love them anyway!

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