Jun 23 2008

Getting the Hang of This Horse Thing

Published by at 4:32 am under Mongolia,Western Mongolia

I’ve figured out a few things about my horse:

1. Opie loves to eat. If I don’t keep his reigns tight, his head is always in the grass. I watch him when he is resting in the afternoon, and while he clearly eats sometimes, he is capable of standing still and not eating, so I think this behavior while I am riding him is a show of dominance. Opie is learning that if he goes ahead of the group, there are frequent opportunities to eat while waiting for the others to catch up. But if he is pokey and puts us in the position of always catching up, I don’t let him eat as much.

2. Opie’s joy of eating makes him rather flatulent. Everyone knows it, so most people don’t like to ride behind me. While I don’t relish the smell either, I think he gets strength from it, because it always happens when we start to run or are going uphill. It’s like a propelling action. I call it “fart power”. Plus, I’m secretly amused if someone gets behind me and he starts letting loose. 😉

3. I think Opie is partially blind. In addition to putting his head down when he wants to eat or drink, he puts it right down to the ground if we’re walking over stones or at a river crossing. With that said, he’s very sure footed, so I’m okay with the blind thing.

4. The equivalent of “Giddyup!” in Mongolia is “Choo!” Opie has a bit of a mind of his own though, so in addition to using “choo!” and a kick to the tummy, I need to threaten the whip (but don’t really have to hit him). Horses are incredibly intuitive about their riders’ state of mind. I pretty much just need to move my right hand (which holds the whip) and off he goes.

5. Opie is really strong. He has a lot of endurance for carting me uphill. Or should I say “farting” me uphill. Hee hee.


One of the rare pictures with Opie’s head off the ground

At this point on the trip, I feel really comfortable and I have a decent amount of trust of Opie. Also, I was saddle sore for the first few days (especially day #3), but it’s not so bad anymore.

FYI, Dave’s horse UPS is not a very good horse. Dave now says UPS stands for “Uncooperative Piece of $#!%”. It seems that his horse is a follower, and so if Dave wants to go away from the group to take a picture, the horse doesn’t really abide. Also, UPS doesn’t get along with my horse, or the horse of another rider, Peter. Every time they get near each other, UPS’ ears go back and sometimes he tries to nip the other horses.


Dave and UPS


Aletta and Spot


Peter and B.O.B. (Bag of Bones)


Eddie and F.H. (H is for horse. You figure out the rest.)

– Meredith

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