I almost biffed it tonight, braking too late on a downhill so that I had the brakes on during a sharp turn — have I mentioned the electric fence at the bottom of the hill? — and then snapping a stick up into my spokes. The buckles on my toe cages are locked in place by rust and my trail runners don’t slip easily out of the slot, so I couldn’t bail. But I trusted my bike, looked far ahead to my destination, and managed to get balanced again despite the whoopsiedoodle.
I just now remembered that I own cycling shoes. Going right now to put them next to the bike.
I went out earlier tonight, before feeding time, to see if the horses would be more interested in the bicycle if they weren’t absorbed in their hay. Not that I had a fantasy of all of them lining up to trot or canter after me, you understand. Never even crossed my mind.
I did spend a lot of time within arm’s length of Rock, though. Petting him or just leaning on the bike at rest. I was able to mirror him for a while, straddling the bike and walking it forward when he walked, stopping when he stopped, looking where he looked, turning when he turned. That was cool! He figured it out by the third halt, too.
I imagined myself as a centaur carefully performing the steps of the dance that would earn me a place in the herd.
I subtly took the lead and he did walk beside me for a few strides, and then I let it go. Stop while you’re ahead and all that. So hard not to push for the next step!
I need the exercise so I made sure to zoom around a lot in between. But I could feel that being still, with Rock, meant something to him. We hung out at the trough for a long while; he was doing his game where he sucks up a bunch of water, curls his tongue, and holds it in his mouth for a while, then either swings his head to sprinkle it on you or swallows it with tiny sucking motions, like a foal with his dam. Still straddling the bike, I bent down and swirled my hand in the water, then started touching his tongue with my wet finger. He’d draw it in just fast enough, then stick it out again. I attempted to get him to play tongue keep-away with me actually holding his tongue, but he wasn’t interested, just sucked it inside and cradled his water that way.
Next time I might try to have a carrot stick with me, to do friendly game with him while I’m on the bike. If that goes well I will try some of the other six games, with me standing over my bike; if I have to go on-line to teach him to do the games this way, so be it, but I won’t be zipping around much. By the seventh session I’d like to have some draw, with me walking backwards on the bike and him walking to me.
Mankind has invested more than four million years of evolution in the attempt to avoid physical exertion. Now a group of backward-thinking atavists mounted on foot-powered pairs of Hula-Hoops would have us pumping our legs, gritting our teeth, and searing our lungs as though we were being chased across the Pleistocene savanna by saber-toothed tigers. Think of the hopes, the dreams, the effort, the brilliance, the pure force of will that, over the eons, has gone into the creation of the Cadillac Coupe de Ville. Bicycle riders would have us throw all this on the ash heap of history. ~P.J. O’Rourke
I actually see a lot of potential, if the bike can become part of our play. Wouldn’t it be fun to trot and canter next to each other? Or for him to follow me, then for me to turn around and follow him? At liberty, of course. And later — much later — to go on a mixed trail ride, with bicycles and horse? Like a little herd all our own.