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Travels with Molly, Part III

Published: 5/11/2011
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By Molly Stark

Click to read Part I
Click to read Part II  

It seems that no amount of planning can actually prepare you for the spotlight. 
Morris and I practiced and practiced our obstacle course until he could do it in his sleep.  My daughter rode through the obstacles we set up at home and not once did she have to touch the reins. When she got to the side pass she just looked at me and laughed, “Ma” she said, “he’s on auto-pilot!”
Same for the drill routine – I didn’t even need music.
 We practiced in one of the rings down in Spencer.  “Ok, Morris,” I’d say, “Ya ready?” then belt out “BUMP DA DA BUMP” totally off key and he’d launch into the first part, dancing in place then racing into William Tell 1812 overture, setting up for Mambo #5, throwing all his energy into the Too Sexy with his beautiful extended trot and finally the grand finale Macarena dance – of which I was supposed to do. 
Well it didn’t quite go that way because I was too nervous. 
What did go well was the fact that I have a super horse and yes, all that practice paid off.

I let go and put all my trust in my horse and he took over. 
Despite a small technical glitch (no opening fanfare song) Morris knew the routine and being a sensible actor, he improvised. Yes, he danced in place right on cue then launched into his race and wonder of wonders added something new! My horse really did the Mambo – he cantered sideways without missing a beat to the song and threw a flying change in there and cantered sideways in the other direction.  That’s when I knew this horse had it – Macarena – yes! I was able to drop the reins for him to stand but instead of me waving my arms around like a fool he made it better and tossed one foot in the air in unison to the song.
HOOO boy what a showoff!

 What about the obstacle course you ask?  It was a blur to me. Morris never stopped. He trotted over the cavaletti, trotted up to the last pole halted for a millisecond, side-passed like a charm and then set himself up for the Figure Eight cone back.  Here again, no reins – I did talk to him “back” and “over” and this horse danced and flew through it, seriously almost felt the wind in my hair. He was pumped. I believe it took all of about 20 seconds.  It was almost too fast. 
Maybe it wasn’t as clean as it could have been but what matters is that Morris and I were partners.  He knew what to do and when I asked he gave.  That’s what it’s about – communication and trust.

 I have never had so much fun before in my life. I felt like a superstar and was so proud of Morris.  I walked out of the arena and beamed at everyone, not caring that they didn’t know me. I kept saying to all within earshot “oh he was SO good.” 
I forgot about the interview part. Suddenly the judge was there and asking me to stand in a certain spot, right in front of the flower bed and ACTHA sign.  My mouth went dry and I was tongue tied. 
The first question was, “Tell us about your horse” and I had trouble keeping a quaver out of my voice.  I went blank. Couldn’t they see what a great horse he was? Oh yeah, that was my job to explain that and I must confess I babbled something out and my pre-planned speech came out in bits and starts. 
I was failing miserably and was glad that my spotlight time was almost over, thank God.  Just let me ride was all I could think. 
The judge asked Morris if he thought he should be America’s Favorite Trail Horse and my wonder horse shook his head up and down “YES” and trumpeted out his answer. Damn he’s good.   I walked away on Morris after thanking the judges, looked down and realized my fly was unzipped. I hoped my underwear matched my outfit.

Done. Now I could focus on my friends and repay all the kindness and support they gave to me.  I reluctantly settled Morris in his stall with a few bites of apple and carrot; he munched heartily and I became a groom for Sonia.  She realized she hadn’t brought her bridle and began to panic. 
“No worries mate?”

I tried showing her the yoga exercise. She really didn’t have time for that.  I hauled out the bridle I had thrown in and she frantically dug through her box for a bit. Calm, calm was all I could think in her direction.
It started to pour buckets of rain.  We rode up to the trailer and Sonia got her outback rain coat on. It was then she decided on her freestyle routine. I was flabbergasted.  She truly was a whiz at throwing things together at the last minute.
I was able to walk by her side into the ring and was happy to do the same for Meghan and Tucker. 
Both of my friends performed beautiful routines and looked perfect.  I was so proud.
Meghan, Matt and Tucker were heading home that day after they rode.  Sonia and I had elected to stay an extra day. 

We made three stops on the way home and the trip was an hour longer going back. I was worried about Morris as he seemed dull-eyed and listless and perhaps I was imagining him looking at his sides.  He is prone to colic and I was imaging terrible scenarios. Home home was all I could think of.  

Home to Sonia's place. I was anxious to get Morris off the trailer, little realizing how anxious he was to be off. I mean really anxious. I never should have tried turning him around in the trailer, he’s just too big.  Ok, so Morris gets stuck halfway around, panics and comes out of the trailer like a pinball wizard. 
I have no choice but to launch with him as that horse is all chest. I am superwoman flying through the air with my new horse, Pegasus. He lands, I continue flying and hit the mud puddle 20 feet away and roll around in it for a bit just to feel cold water on my face and mud down my pants. 
Morris stands there looking at me and Sonia is scolding him. Bless her heart – naughty horse. She takes charge and I pick myself up, hobble to the truck, start shaking, grab a drink and light up a cigarette. At least that must be how the cowboys do it, right? 
I wisely decide to spend one more night on the road and take advantage of Sonia’s hospitality.  We settle the naughty horse. I cry for minute. We sit on her deck for some entertaining horse TV with cocktails in our hands. 
Ahhh, life is good….
Would I do this again?  In a heartbeat! Or is that a hoof beat?

View Reader Comments:

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5/13/2011 Kathleen Hagerty
WOW great story, sounds like you are a great team. Congrats!
5/14/2011 Kyle Smith
Thanks for the laughs! Been there and even done some of those things.
5/17/2011 Jan
Sounds like a wonderful time was had by all. Sitting on the deck w/beverage, partaking of 'horse TV' with Sonia is a great way to end your journey! Kudos to you all!!!
5/18/2011 MaryAlice
Great Job Molly

"Here lies the body of my good horse, The General. For years he bore me around the circuit of my practice and all that time he never made a blunder. Would that his master could say the same." - President John Tyler's epitaph for his horse