If you missed Part One of this enchanting tale, you can read it here.
This whole idea for a romantic horseback picnic originated with a wicker picnic basket I received at my bridal shower in Katy. 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, because the picnic basket came already packed with assorted cheeses, crackers, and other goodies, that was gonna work juuuussst fine.
Tanner (my husband) and 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, so we rushed outside to get the horses ready. 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 for the short walk to our neighbor's pasture.
That, is when I realized that with every step Stetson took, that precious 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 leisurely 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, Tanner had not worked with Pepper in quite some time, so Pepper was understandably fresh and full of vigor. I quickly realized that holding hands as we piddled down lovers lane was apparently not an option. Instead, as we headed down the dirt road toward our neighbor's pasture, I was left in a cloud of dust.
Tanner took off with Pepper, half the time schooling, and the other half of the time just plain letting him "release his energy", as Tanner calls it -- aka, RUN. They zigged, and zagged, and circled, and galloped, and backed, and side stepped. I sensed the romance dwindling as Tanner's face, red with heat and exertion, led our mismatched party through the pasture like a beacon. Me casually plunking along on my horse and Tanner and Pepper rapidly burning a trail trail straight to.... well, ya know.
So we headed toward our neighbor's pond, because I thought that would be a romantic spot. We all made it there in one piece, unpacked out gear, and hobbled the horses so they could graze. Both horses were safely trained to hobbles, and have been hobbled many times before.
It was looking like things might calm down, as Tanner was starting to cool off and unwind. 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 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 mosquitoes 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.
If you've never seen a horse run with hobbles on, it can be terrifying, despite their bizarre proficiency at it. Their two front legs become one, and they paw forward, with the hind legs following behind. It's a lumbering spectacle to say the least. And Pepper wasn't just hopping along, I mean he was booking it -- and managing it remarkably well. 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 neighbor's property, before resuming their grazing happily.
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, there was a fleeting moment when Tanner and I stopped to share a kiss. And maybe that's why, after it all, I started planning our next horseback picnic. Mind you, there will be some adjustments for the safety, comfort, and enjoyment of animal and human participants alike!