This ‘new crew’ consists of Tigre and ‘the other one’, who has been renamed as ‘Curly Joe’. Tigre kept his name but Curly didn’t have a name – how sad. But he had a decent life, transporting the kids to school and working on the cattle farm, definitely a good horse, but with curly wavy hair. There is a breed of horse with this kind of hair, but I must say that I was shocked to see this characteristic here in this country…hmmm. Anyway, Billy delivered the boys from his farm and now the initiation to their new world began.
We set up a routine of connecting with them with good rations and lots of love, grooming and attention. New place, new faces, new routines…horses are creatures of habit, so when you change their routine it is not so easy to adjust. They are herd animals (like people) and rely on their herd, which now not only includes us – strangers – but also each other (and this is a new situation for them, as well): dependent upon us and each other, for safety and survival. But first we had to convince them that we were friends, not foes. Food and love go a long way, but creating new routines takes time. After a few days we saddled them up for a ride, the new routine became established, and we all connected as friends – slowly, yet surely.
Still living in the same place with relatively minimal diversity in riding opportunity – lots of repeat – yet progressively getting to know one another in familiar territory, familiar at least for us. Down to the river, in the river, across the river, up and down the roads of the subdivision, now out on the main road (highway) and along the road to the turnoff to the falls, down that really steep bugger of a road…across those rivers , across the bridge, and eventually way far away – from half hour rides to half day rides. One day we were heading up the road on our way to the waterfalls and just as we were passing in front of the neighbor’s laguna, Tigre squatted suddenly becoming quite alarmed, and very nervous. Curly was fine and we could not figure out what had triggered Tigre to react so. He remained ‘on his toes’ for the remainder of the ride and later that evening we learned that we had had an earthquake (4 something) at that moment – he felt it. Not sure if Curly did or not, or perhaps he just didn’t get bothered (we didn’t feel it); but every time we passed that spot from then on our Tigre was apprehensive, waiting for the earth to move beneath his feet again. Very sensitive horse.
The training/get to know each other/preparation rides were fun, we enjoyed covering the same ole ground, it is so beautiful and the mountain roads go on and on – we just rode further every time. But time was running out, the horses did awesome and our ride with the Doc was rapidly approaching, so it was time to get these boys up on the mountain and in with the others without further delay. The plan was to give them at least one day in between riding them from here up the mountain – and the big ride. Hanging very loose with scheduling was imperative, as the Doc would be flying in – without much forewarning. We got the word on Friday night that he would fly in Sunday, so it was scheduled for Sunday morning to ride the boys up the mountain. Tuesday was written on the calendar for the ride – everyone received notification: be prepared, early Tuesday. Big day.
Early Sunday Billy and I mounted up on our faithful steeds and headed out on the main road, Mate followed behind for traffic control – and the ride back home. We made good time up the highway and good time down the hill to San Juan de Dios – where we crossed the first river. This was October already and rains were guaranteed every day – at what time would they arrive was mutable – but getting across the rivers in between was a must. Once the rain starts on any given day, the rivers are sure to rise – accordingly. (I rode down the mountain once, crossing a river…and it started to rain, lightly. My roundtrip would be a good hour back to the river, and I was warned not to dally along…and the rains began to come down in earnest before I got to town, so I turned around and sure as heck, the river was big and powerful by the time I got back to it. I made it across, phew! You really have to call your shots at these times, because you could get stuck on the wrong side of the river at the wrong time – lol). So far so good, easy first river crossing here. We stopped by the river for some dried pineapple and a drink of water, then moved on out – again at a good pace. No rain on us or up on the hill – yet.
The next river was a little more challenging, narrower and deeper and faster, but the horses knew what to do without a hitch. We rode on up the hill and to the farm in excellent time, the horses were taken care of and released inside the yard, separated from the other horses, for the first night. That would be way too easy to allow a wreck the day before the ride, two new horses in the herd (oh no, more herd politics! Major adjustment scenarios unfolding) – action, hooves flying and teeth gnashing in abundance (very much like new kid on the playground stuff in grammar school, tsk tsk). No, not a good idea. We confirmed all arrangements with Alberto in regards to Tuesday – a day and a half away, including having all of the gear with us this day, to leave there ahead of time.
On our way back down the mountain we stopped at the EcoChontales ‘soda’ and checked in to confirm reservations for dinner the next afternoon, after our ride. The Rio Angel that runs through the property ends up at these falls, and the neighbors built a small soda and tourist station for folks wanting to hike in to the falls, maybe take a horseback tour through farm country, and eat a good home cooked meal – Tipo Tico. Nice place, nice folks: a manana, hay 4 personas, por favor.
It was arranged that Billy and the Doc would come to our house the following day for a meal and the preliminary talk about what was about to take place on Tuesday. They arrived in the afternoon and we enjoyed an excellent fresh fish meal cooked by our resident gourmet chef (not me, Mate) as we talked about the ride. We made it clear to the Doc that this ride would not be like the one we had taken previously to see the farm – the Oh Shit E-Ticket Ride #1 (famous last words, yeah?). The plan was to meet them as close to the entrance as was physically possible (they were driving in from the other direction), ride in to a central area and get a gist for the lay of the land, and perhaps a sneak peek at the river and the waterfalls. All of the pertinent facts that we had on hand revolving around the property was laid on the table, and we were ready to get rolling early the next day. We were all ready for the adventure, plenty excited. Yet little did we know what excitement lay before us.
To Be Continued…