Labor Day Weekend Woes

We had tons of rain toward the end of last week, which left very little options for a Saturday morning ride.  We had dropped our puppy off on Friday, so I figured my mom, the puppy, and Kosmo would take a nice walk up to the American Tobacco Trail (ATT).

For those who do not know, the ATT is an old railroad bed that runs through many counties of NC that has been converted into walking/biking/equestrian trails.  I used to ride on these as a kid before they were popular, jumping over fallen logs, and never encountered a soul: we would even ride our dirt bikes on it when there weren’t fallen logs.  The scene is VERY different nowadays.  To be honest, I hate the new trail, and I know I am one of the minority.

The reason why I hate it?  It’s because it is truly no longer an equestrian trail.  They make it known we can ride along it, but the scene is so unfriendly, you wouldn’t want to be on it.  It amazes me how many people just don’t know anything about animals and how to interact with them.  So it just remains there, tantalizing.  It doesn’t help that it’s so accessible for us.  We figured that since it was a hazy potentially rainy day in the early morning that there wouldn’t be many on there.

We were so wrong.

Kosmo had a meltdown because of the sheer amount of stimuli.  At least 50 people (bikes or jogging) passed by us in 10 minutes.  My normal un-phased at showgrounds and new places couldn’t take it.  When a bike rider dinged her little bell and zoomed on without me even getting a second to acknowledge there was suddenly a bike rider on my butt, Kosmo threw a fit: threw his head down, whirled around and bucked a few times in place.  I hopped off, knowing that might be the best way to keep him quiet and under control.  We jigged our way back home, having several turn around moments to get him to face those coming up behind him.  When I tried to tell him to behave and stop running me over, he met me with mini rears, which I was very unhappy with.  What was the most frustrating was I couldn’t do anything.  I couldn’t make this a lesson or turn it into a positive experience for him, as the people just kept coming and coming.

I hit my boiling point when I was approaching the gate to get off the trail.  These gates prevent motorized vehicles from getting on the trail, and have narrow passes on either side for people to get through.  It is written EVERYWHERE that everyone has to yield to horses.  I am all the way to the right of the trail, approaching one of these gates.  I’m a few steps from it, and all of a sudden Kosmo’s front end swings into me, and I hear a “Woah!”.  I look over my shoulder and an idiot teenager jogger has decided to come up on Kosmo’s right, on his butt, to get through the gate before us.  I lost it.  I cursed the girl and told her that she was an idiot and that she better be happy that her head wasn’t kicked in for coming up on a horse like that.  Her response?  The back of her head as she kept jogging away.

Nothing.  No apology.  No acknowledgement.

I fumed some more to the back of her head and we turned off the trail.  He stood stock still for me to mount back up, and we had an uneventful ride back down our road and into our property.  He was great the ride back… you wouldn’t have even known we had such a problem.  On the buckle walking, head down, meandering like his normal self.  I wasn’t angry at him, just disappointed.  I know it’s difficult out there, having this super narrow space with people and bikes passing in each direction.  I guess the lesson is just what I said earlier: when bikes and people are allowed on a trail, it’s not an equestrian trail anymore, sadly.

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