Friday, February 13, 2015

Tales from the Trail Part 3: Friends from LA

Oh boy. This group was quite the handful- I made myself a cup of coffee to reminisce the experience. We get people of all shapes and sizes, backgrounds, and experience level. But this group was really something special.

First of all, picture two of these women, and two very large men. They were visiting from LA, so now picture them dressed to the nines. The women had long fake extensions and long manicured nails, jewelry, high heels, and big sun glasses (They looked expensive just getting out of the car) and the men were in muscle shirts with backwards hats and sagging jeans.

The other guide and I just looked at each other like "oh man. This is going to be a long day."
I went and greeted everybody and they were super friendly but also very nervous because they had never even touched a horse before (surprise!) which is fine. I assured them the usual....that it was a walk only ride and everyone just follows in a nice little calm line. Nothing to worry about. 

We always give a demonstration about how to steer the horse and extremely basic riding skills. They cowered over by the tree and there was a lot of laughing and slapping each other, until I offered Ike for someone to get on. Ike is a big horse, but he's really a giant and fuzzy teddy these were large people so we had to make arrangements. The group finally pushed one brave soul up to the mounting mounting block and he started to get really nervously chatty.
"Uh what now? I wasn't even payin' any attention" "I'm supposed to put my leg on that thing? Ah hell no!" "Can't I ride one of the littler ones?" 

It's hard to keep from laughing (I did a little bit because he didn't seem to mind) at the fact that I was coaxing this huge guy onto this horse. I assured him I would catch him if he fell (I weigh about 120 lbs haha) and he took a step of bravery onto the horse. I led him to the corner and held the rope so he could get comfortable. This was the easy one!

This guy's poor girlfriend was so terrified of horses I wondered why...why on earth would you pay this kind of money to go for a ride on the beach? She was afraid every single time the horse breathed, twitched, shifted, or stomped a foot for flies. She bravely worked up the courage to stick her foot in the stirrup and to her horror the horse shifted and moved her head to balance for the extra weight. This woman literally started screaming and fell backwards off the mounting block!
Now I did feel bad, because the horse she was going to ride is a little finicky. She is fantastic to ride and we put little kids on her all the time (her name is Lehua) but she is very cinchy. She's getting better since she moved to this barn, but still has some bad ground manners and can be very nippy. For safety, we always hold her head while someone is mounting so she doesn't turn and nip. This was pretty much a night mare for this woman. 

I talked with her for a little while, about why Lehua was acting like she was (moving...she was just moving) and that she would be completely fine. I would hold on to the lead rope so nothing could happen. 
In the mean time the other guide got the other two mounted, and though they were nervous, they did eventually get on. The lady I was working with kept saying "I don't know I feel like you guys know something that I don't! You guys are trying to put me on the crazy horse!"
I literally just laughed. She was so convinced that we were going to try and kill her. I told her "You know its fine. If you're really this uncomfortable you don't have to's your money. I'm not going to force you to ride."
She seemed rather okay with this idea, but her friends kept badgering her to get on. By this point, the owner was out walking around and was probably wondering why it had taken us 30 min to get these people mounted. So we stepped back and let him deal with it. Somehow, he managed to get this woman on the horse, but had to walk with her. He told her we could just go out to the beach for a picture and see how she felt.

He tried to get me to pony her alongside my horse, but my horse kept shaking his head and that was too damn scary. "is nobody else seeing this?! Is nobody else seein' how my horse keeps actin' up!" is all she said over and over. Lehua was shaking her head from flies and mouthing the bit- doing absolutely nothing. Which we told her about a thousand times. (and all her friends ignored her so I'm guessing her dramatic acts are pretty common!)

So I led the way, three people behind us (one of them wanted to be ponied along with the other guide) and this lady being led by the owner. (She was actually expecting him to lead her down the mile and a half trail in the sand)
We got out to a little point on the beach to take pictures and everyone posed cutely. The owner then handed me the lead rope to crazy-lady and Lehua and said "okay you guys go have fun!"

You would think this woman was going to die.
"you can't force me to ride this horse that's acting up! Omg does nobody see how she is moving her head around?!"
I assured her once again, it was only because of the flies. At this point, instead of getting frustrated, I put on my Therapeutic Riding Instructor hat.  We deal with children and adults that have all kinds of insecurities and temper tantrums. I simply said "You know I think you did great getting out here to the beach. I don't want you to be uncomfortable doing something so I think Devon here can lead you back to the barn and we will meet up with you afterwards"
She was so relieved that I wasn't going to make her ride. I handed her back to the owner, giving him the "this will go much better without her"look. 

Plus I found it pretty unfair that she was so scared, like ready to pee her pants scared, and everyone was making her go for this ride.

This whole ordeal took about 45 min, we didn't even get out on the trail, but we took the rest of a group for a little 15 min shuffle down the beach and back. That's about all they could handle because by the time we were done they were all  complaining about how badly their legs hurt. The other woman, who was also very large, asked the other guide if she could help lift her off. (The other guide is also my size and was going to be crushed to death) so we tagged teamed rolling this woman off of her horse.

I got everybody back to the lounge area and took their helmets, and we had the best conversation of my entire day. On the trail I was giving them ideas for things to do on Oahu and told them that they definitely needed to visit Pearl Harbor (which is where I live).
One of the men turned to me and said "Isn't that a ship or something?"

Oh my god. Really?

I explained to him that Pearl Harbor, was in fact an area of the island, that had been bombed in World War 2. There was an amazing memorial that they should definitely visit. One of the women said "Oh yeah! So wait like....What happened again?"
I gave them an extremely brief history lesson and told them that the memorial showed an informational video before the tour so that everyone was up to date on history.

They thanked me and left us all in a daze. Even the polo trainer was laughing is ass off after that ride. If there were any ride where we were allowed to beg for a tip, that would have been it.