Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Riley and the Spook-o-rama

Riley went to Bucks County Horse Park Sunday. It was a beautiful, beautiful day, 65 degrees, breezy, and blue skies marked by fast-moving clouds in varying shades of white and grey.

My friend Heather trailered us, and  had checked the Bucks County Horse Park web site to make sure there were no events going on (I was at a conference). When we spoke, she said, "Oh, there's some 4-H thing." No big deal.

We got off the trailer and as we walked up the path to the rings, we crossed paths with two riders. One was riding her horse in a  full billowing white wedding, veil fluttering in the wind. Her companion was a pirate in a sparkly purple vest. I gripped the lead rope like death, but Riley wasn't too concerned.

Behind them was someone I knew, jogging toward the parking lot.  She waved and smiled but said,  "Gotta run, there's a rider down and we're waiting for the ambulance."

"What's going on??? Geez!" I said. "Spook-o-rama," was Heather's reply. As we crested the small incline, we saw the rings were full of people in costume -- prisoners, fairies, bees, mice, the Incredible Hulk, several of them jumping fences at what I'd call a gallop. I was particularly impressed by the prison uniform which included, oddly, a black and white striped cape that whipped smartly as they cantered past.

This got Ri's attention, but he still didn't react. You could see he was taking it all in, not sure what to make of it.  Heather went to retrieve the tack while I led Riley around the ring.  One ring was sparsely populated, with two small kids walking white ponies, farting around, bored, and not really looking after their ponies so much as playing. I chose that ring over the spookfest jumping ring. At times the kids left the ponies were left unattended in the ring with me and Ri. This annoyed me, but what do you do?

As we tacked Riley up near the gate, an unassuming looking bay was being led by his owner -- no costume -- but suddenly Ri was on full alert. He called to the horse and started kicking out, which is his MO when he is getting excited.

I decided to lunge him, and sent him out on the line, with no side reins. He made a couple of spectacular leaps in the air. The mother of the two kids with ponies collected them pretty fast and took them out of the ring. "Good," I thought. "They're safer."  But Riley had gotten everything out of his system and he was now ready to work. He trotted beautifully, cantered without much fuss, and I got on.

He was good, and even ignored the ambulance speeding past with lights and siren. We walked/trotted/cantered for about 15 minutes. Then I walked him past the dressage arenas. Then we left.

When I got home I told Bob about "Spook-o-rama."

His comment: "A horse event should never have 'Spook' in the title."


  1. Look at those blue hooves! The event sounds fun, but you're right about the title.

  2. Sounds like a great training day to me:) But then again I let my boys run around outside of the arena with their red umbrellas while I work my girl. You never know when a red umbrella might pop up while I'm riding a test!

  3. wow. I remember having halloween "field days" with the horses back in Pony Club. When I think back to some of the RIDICULOUS things that my pony tolerated in the name of "costumes" I'm impressed she didn't try harder to pitch me into the weeds...
    I may, or may not remember a year that involved copious amounts of glitter-puffy-paint and a princess hat lashed to her bridle... sigh.

  4. Don't you love it when you both survive and event? It's always a milestone for confidence. I suspect that his hospital days probably prepared him for a lot.

  5. Spook or not, it surely does look like fun. What I love about most 4-H events is how many "kid safe" horses you see there. They put up with all kinds of silly stuff and just take care of their riders. All shapes, sizes, breeds and non-breeds, they are the treasures of the horse world.

    And, it sounds as if after his silly outburst at seeing one "normal" horse among the spooky ones, it sounds as if Riley earns an "Excellent" ribbon and a gold star as well! Good going, Ri-ri!

  6. Wow! That's impressive! What a wonderful boy--you've survived the mother of all insane horse events. He must not have realized all those other "things" were horses until he saw the one normal looking one! Congratulations!

  7. Went to this a few years ago, dressed as the Chik-fil-a cows. It was a brilliant time and I saw some awesome costumes. I did have to pull the ringer out of Ozzy's cow bell after it spooked some other horses out there.

  8. of course riley is most scared of the NAKED horse! (the only one without a costume!) Shared this post to my facebook page- the gears need to start turning for horse Halloween costume ideas!

  9. Great photos! I love horse fancy dress, we always have a competition at Christmas and it's so cute!


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