Tuesday, October 28, 2008

horse whisperers

I've been a bad blogger. I've just been busy lately and so I've totally procrastinated on posting about our visit with Aunt Pat, one of my mom's sisters, who was here a couple of weeks ago. Aunt Pat is from New Jersey, and though she retired to South Carolina a year or so ago, I still think of her as from New Jersey. If she replaces her NJ accent for a southern one, maybe I'll change my mind.

She was on her way home from a trip to Asia and arranged to have an all-day layover in our area. I picked her up from the airport while the girls were in German school, and we hung out in a bakery/cafe nearby until the girls were done with class. Having previously visited this area a couple of times and having never met the girls before, spending time with them was her main interest. Doing touristy things in the city, not so much. So I thought we'd take a little drive into the hills and visit a ranch I knew of which offered pony rides and had a winery, and offered some nice overall scenery, from what I had heard.

I called the day before to check on availability and hours and to make sure my kids were old enough to ride and so on and everything sounded fine. When we got there the girls visited and petted some horses for a few minutes while I signed them up for riding. Then after getting their helmets Aunt Pat and I learned about exactly what I had just committed us to doing. This wasn't pony riding as in the kids are guided around and around a penned area while we rest in the shade and watch...WE, along with one employee, would each be escorting a pony along their 1/2 hour hike along the trails around the grounds.

This could be a problem because both AP and I were wearing sandals, and she informed me just a couple of minutes prior that she is allergic to horses. And me, well, I'm allergic to horses and everything else one could possibly encounter on a horse ranch. Or a cow ranch. Or any other kind of ranch. Or anyplace else on the earth for that matter. But we thought we'd tough it out anyway and the girls were certainly excited to get going.

So we set out on very uneven ground with ponies that looked calm and gentle and with names like "Pumpkin". Our main instructions were to hold their reigns near their heads and don't let them "snack" along the trails. Alrighty then.

It was a really pretty property. The vineyards were all around and we had some nice views of the west hills and down into the valley.

But it was also one of those walks where the entire time it seemed like we were going uphill. And it turned out that "Pumpkin" and the others were small but all muscle, and determined, and keeping them from stopping to eat along the trails was nearly impossible. Not only were AP and I reluctant pony guides, we were very reluctant pony wrestlers, and the ponies won.

Allergy-wise, AP seemed fine along the walk and I was too. After the ride we briefly sampled a few of their wines in their tasting room and headed out. By the time we were driving home her allergies had hit AP pretty hard. I offered her some drugs at home, and some anti-histamines too. Erin decided to show her some less-allergenic horses while she recovered.

And after a few hours of resting and talking and visiting and hanging out, we all went out to dinner and Uncle Brad joined us. Though I nearly killed her with my horse outing idea, I think AP had a good visit and the girls just loved her and want her to visit again soon. If she does I promise her an equine-free visit.

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