December 31, 2022
A light rain began to fall. Grace rode the golden stallion up to the horse trailer. La Barilla was starting to get the hang of things, taking new situations in stride more and more often.
"Do you think he'll be afraid of the trailer?"
"I don't think so" Grace said. "He came here in a trailer, not too long before I came on board, and I don't remember any crazy stories about the experience."
Grace maneuvered him easily to the ramp. He started up. She halted him, and had him back for a few steps.
"I think he would have gone right in" Grace said.
In the arena, the girls set up a series of poles, and their one and only barrel at the end. La Barilla seemed comfortable and focused. Left turns were still a bit bumpy, but not quite as bad as they were in the beginning.
Skye decided to try riding a pony.
"This is harder than it looks! She's so narrow, I feel like I could fall off at any moment! And when I squeeze with my legs to hold on, she goes faster!"
The girls took turns weaving through the poles and around the barrel. Now on his left turns...that's where La Barilla was starting to shine.
The little pony was nimble and quick. Skye was getting the hang of sitting on her narrower-than-a-horse back. And then the pony did what ponies the world over occasionally do. Instead of going around the pole to the left, she changed it up, and went right. Skye tried to save herself by grabbing a hand full of mane, but it was too late. The ground was approaching.
The sand was deep, and thick, and tasted like sand.
"Are you okay?" Grace called out.
Skye spit out some sand.
The pony...Grace tried to remember her name...Princess? Goldie Locks? appeared to be having a fine time without Skye. She loped right up to La Barilla...and then turned abruptly. Grace lunged for her reins.
"Good catch!" Skye trotted up to retrieve her pony. She took the reins of her make-shift bridle...as they did not own any proper riding gear small enough to fit a pony...and ran with her pony back to the other end of the arena.
"You little rascal" she said to her feisty mount, "let's try that again!"
Grace gave La Barilla a well deserved pat on the neck. "You'll make a ranch horse yet" Grace said to him in praise.
Skye and the princess pony took another pass at the poles, at a slow lope, and all went smoothly.
Before they were done for the evening, Skye turned out Precious and Mista Spot.
"You know" Grace said, it's actually not that cold. This is a pretty warm storm."
"Yeah," Skye replied, "but these two...they never throw me. They deserve a little pampering."