Rose was conscripted to give pony rides to a couple of my daughter's friends the other day. I say conscripted, but she didn't have to be asked twice and exited the field eagerly, walking past George as if to say, "Ahem, you are staying here; I am the privileged one at this moment."
One girl "knows how to ride," so I gave her a leg up bareback, attached ropes for reins, and set off down the drive beside Rose, keeping a cautious hand near the halter.
Rose strode forward, almost in a rush. The horses (apart from Chloe) often seem so keen to set off for an excursion that I wonder if the rest of time they get bored, just longing to go out, and wondering what lies over the horizon. I think of what Imke Spilker says about horses being creatures of wide open spaces who are condemned by the modern world to live lives which are confined both physically and mentally; she says it's up to humans to return self-determination, or inner freedom, to horses in exchange for the physical spaces they have lost.
I let Rose pick our turnaround spot. As we approached home, the other horses came galloping over, and the noise of their thundering hoofs made Rose quite agitated. At the foot of the drive, however, she chose not to go home but to continue our walk in the opposite direction. I soon brought our expedition to an end, however, as the dogs had accompanied us, and I was worried about cars.
After Girl No.1 dismounted, I asked her to hold Rose while I ran and did something. Rose was grazing, and the girl seemed confident, so I thought everything would be fine. Wrong assumption. All of a sudden, there's a little commotion behind me - I turn around, and the girl is holding an empty halter, while Rose is cantering down the drive toward me .... past me .... out onto the road. Yikes.
Apparently Rose had stepped on the leadrope while grazing, lifted her head up suddenly, and broken the strap of the halter. I was very concerned, as the last time Rose got loose (admittedly a long time ago), she totally lost her ability to think rationally, and this time I had visions of her tearing down the road in a panic.
However, after turning onto the road and proceeding a few yards, Rose stopped. She turned to face home, peered over the fence, and stood looking at me. "Rose!" I called. She trotted back up the drive and stopped next to me. Phew. A potentially dangerous turn of events, but almost worth it to see the difference in Rose's reaction since the last time this happened.
The second girl has no experience with horses, so I said she could just sit up on Rose while she grazed. However, once the girl was on board, Rose had other ideas and set off on a tour of the yard. For Rose, there seems to be something liberating about having a person on her back. In the pasture, if she wants to go somewhere, she'll drive Chloe (the only one she's able to drive) ahead of her, so that she doesn't have to go alone. I guess the built-in buddy-on-board is another version of that.
After the pony rides, Rose was thanked with a carrot and returned to the pasture.