I'd noticed a while back that our joint calendar had "something special for a special birthday" marked down for Saturday June 25, the weekend preceding my birthday. Micah likes to do surprises for me occasionally, just something he likes planning I guess.
I had a few theories, but wasn't sure what it might be. As of Friday, I knew that we had to get up early-ish (for a Saturday) and that it wasn't going to take all day. That ruled out an overnight trip and a ticket to the Taylor Swift concert which was that night. As of that morning there were a few more clues, my attire was to be jeans and shoes that could be worn in potentially muddy areas. Hm.
I wasn't quite sure, but I thought it might have had something to do with horses. The only reason I came up with that idea was there had been a bunch of local groupons for riding recently, and I had probably mentioned a few to Micah. And Micah knows I heart horses (yes, that 9-year-old self part of me. and that not-9-year-old self, too). And we're always checking out local deals, so I thought he may have nabbed one. But before we left the house that morning I reminded him to make sure he had everything...camera if we needed it (who knows what we're doing?! I don't!)...wallet, keys...oh, and if we need a coupon for whatever we're doing bring that too. He said there was no coupon necessary. Which led me to consider a day hike or something. Maybe. Mud. Hm.
But my first thought was right. I kind of wish that I hadn't had the hunch, because it would have been much more satisfying for Micah I think. But, my suspicions were confirmed once we arrived at Bobby's Ranch in Weston, MA, about 45 minutes away, if that. (did you see the funny horse cartoon on their web page? yeah, that was on their sign too - so funny!)
When we pulled in, we passed a lonely buffalo standing in a pin...I wonder if he has an buddies. We parked and registered at the office and then waited for the last people in our group to arrive. While we were meandering around, we ran into some animals. Or rather, they came to us. The donkey high-tailed it across the parking lot to come say hello before heading off to continue snacking in the field. He was followed close behind by a Shetland pony. There were also 2 roosters parading through the yard. One was huge and what we'd call a textbook rooster - giant feet, colorful feathers and a serious cock-a-doodle-doo. He also had a partner in crime, a smaller rooster guy that followed him around too. He was cute (probably not what roosters are going for) and little and made us laugh hysterically. That was because his cock-a-doodle-doo crow was more of a high-pitched cock-a-cough-sputter-voice crack-doo. At first we thought it was just that one time, but nope, every time. Poor guy. We also found some sheep and another Shetland pony. And a very friendly cat who made a beeline for Micah when he was crouching down to take a photo.
Turns out the last people we were waiting on for our trail ride never showed. So it was me and Micah along with 2 other riders and 2 guides. They were nice, but very efficient, like - hi, walk up this ramp, this is Midnight, have you ridden before?, great, here you go. And just like that we were off. I was trying to remember the last time I had ridden, and it was probably in college when I was in Colorado with my friend, Kerry, and we rode in the snow near Crested Butte. As in that was probably 10 years ago. But, I guess riding a horse is kind of like riding a bike - it comes back to you.
After stopping for a quick water break for the horses and a reminder not to let them eat along the way, we headed out to the trails. The trails wound us up through woods near the 'ranch' and through a preserve area. It was really pretty and smelled like camp (woods + damp earth + horses + leathery saddles = camp).
It had poured that morning, but the rain had thankfully stopped by the time we arrived at Bobby's. That being said, there were rainy tree-drips and gigantic puddles across the trail. We were instructed to get the horses to go through the center of the puddles, but they all wanted to stay dry (like I would have), so they headed as far to the outside as possible. This was also when my mount, Midnight, would try to have a fast-food snack (read, any green foliage within tongue's reach). It was an ongoing battle. You'd think he was famished. My favorite was when we were trotting along (one speed faster than a walk) and there was a low-lying, leaf-filled branch across the trail. While I was trying to avoid a branch to the face, Midnight was trotting along, happily snagging a few precious leaves as we went through it.
Along with the snacks, puddle avoidance/side-of-the-road snacking was also an opportune time for Midnight to try to crush my outside leg between his body and the nearest sappling. It never really happened, but was always a close call. A tug on the reins and a swift kick, and we were (almost) back in the center of the trail again. Micah was in front of me for the ride, on a black and white steed named Oreo. His MO was slow walking. We were always several horse lengths away from the rest of the pack. It brought a whole new meaning to the saying "I'm right on your tail" (maybe this is where it came from?). Midnight was all up on Oreo's tail. At one point, one of the guides had to bring her horse up between us to try and make Oreo get a move on. It didn't really work.
Those were just some minor anecdotes along the way. The ride was fun and surprising and fun and beautiful. Unfortunately, there are no photos of us actually on horses because we decided to put the camera in the car, lest either of us fall off and crunch it (in addition to ourselves). And because the staff is so efficient, there really is no time to take photos or pet your horse before/after you've dismounted. When we arrived back at the barn, we dismounted on wobbly legs. We were met by a goat hanging out on the dismounting ramp. He was so funny. Just perched there as if he was a mountain goat on the side of a giant mountain.
We wandered around some more, trying to stretch our legs before getting back in the car. We took some more photos and petted a few more animals. There was a kid-filled group there getting ready for their ride, and our friendly little Shetland was saddled up for the smallest of them. Since they couldn't go on a proper trail ride, they'd get a pony ride in the barnyard. After we had regained normal feeling in our knees and legs and butts (man we're old!), we hopped back in the car and headed home.