Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Ivan and the Lake
It was a beautiful summer day and Joy, was home from college. We decided to go riding and meet up by the lake, with a neighbor, Stacey. It is about a half miles ride for each of us to get to the lake as Stacey lived in the opposite direction. Our gelding, Ivan likes our mare, but he loves Stacey’s mare, Lacy! He always acts like a fool around her and never wants to leave, giving me a grumpy horse to deal with on the way home! Well, Joy and I started to ride toward the lake. It took about 15 minutes to get down there and it was pretty uneventful. Half way around the lake, we met Stacey and decided to go North into the woods and ride on some trails.
Everyone turned their horses North and started to walk. Ivan refused to move. He was ignoring my requests; clucks, kicks and giving him all the reins he could need. All of a sudden, Ivan started to back up. I have no explanation why he decided to do this, but my go forward requests became more demanding at this point. We were maybe 8 feet away from the water.
Ivan is a very large horse, measuring 17 hands at the withers. Add the classic Saddlebred neck and to the average sized person, he is huge! For this reason, from the moment I purchased him, I decided to never fall or bail off of him. Because of the distance to the ground and his brute strength, I was better off fighting any battle I had with him, on his back!
All the other riders were twisted around in their saddles staring at me with their mouths wide open. Ivan continued to move backwards and we were now in the mud. As a last ditch effort, I tried to hit Ivan on the butt with the crop – once again asking him to go F-O-R-W-A-R-D. But no..back, back, back we went. This is a man made lake and after a short shallow ease into the water…there is a 30 foot cliff! We were in the water and then with one more step, it was as if someone had removed the floor out from beneath us and we went under. For the first time ever, I decided to bail off of Ivan and fend for myself. The only thing above water were our heads. Swimming back to the shore, I could feel Ivan’s legs swinging under the water, dangerously close to my own.
I was crawling up the bank on my hands and knees and ironically, so was Ivan. Neither of us could get traction on the slippery mud. Ivan managed to get out only covered with water. I, on the other hand, was covered in green slime. I had slime strings hanging off of my arms and legs that were over 3 feet long! I smelled like dead fish. At this time, I looked back at my riding partners. Ironically, they had not moved one inch, still sitting on their horses with their mouths wide open. I grabbed Ivan’s reins. He was dancing around in circles snorting fiercely at the lake. I knew exactly what he was thinking. In Ivan’s pea sized brain, I am sure if he was telling the story, it would have involved a lake monster who came up out of the water and drug him in by his tail! ..and since the Lake Monster claimed one of Ivan’s show shoes, I had to hand walk him back to the barn. For the entire mile walk back, Ivan refused to flat walk beside me. He instead trotted a level side pass right in front of me, staring at the lake and snorting.
For hours all during the rest of the day and into the evening, I could hear snickers of laughter coming from all parts of the house….
The above photo is my friend Janie Hamilton riding Ivan.