Question: How can you get a 3-year-old filly to nearly jump out of her skin?
Answer: Be near the drummers for a high school marching band when they decide to warm up for an impending parade.
That was the scenario last year, when I rode Mocha in the 4th of July parade. Before the parade started, we were riding around the staging area near the baseball field when suddenly we heard BOOM BOOM BOOM, BOOM BOOM BOOM. Mocha jumped, spun and flew sideways in rapid succession, and somehow, I managed to stay on. As it turned out, I had not noticed the drummers until it was nearly too late.
This year, I was older and wiser.
With the help of some fellow islanders, Matt and I borrowed first one, then eventually two drum sets, and set about desensitizing the horses. At the first “bam bam bam” they all literally turned tail and ran.
Soon, however, they came back, and realized that when nothing attacked them when the drumming commenced, they quickly calmed.
After a few days of drumming, they no longer cared. We even upped the ante and hid the drums in the tack room so that the horses wouldn’t be able to see where the sudden burst of noise came from, and….nothing. We brought in a gaggle of kids to drum….they yawned.
Finally, the big day arrived: The 4th of July! This year’s theme was National Parks, so Matt was Teddy Roosevelt. He rode a very calm Yukon. I led Quill, painted as the American flag (his blue roan coloring lending to a natural canvas), and Josephine Crosby led Mocha, who agreeably wore a bison costume.
Our prep paid off: Nobody spooked. We had a marvelous time, and I’m already looking forward to next year, when Quill will finally be old enough to ride.