Saturday, we were walking around the Alamo, when I spotted the carraige horses. Ooh Ooh! Fantastic! I missed getting a ride the last time we visited SA, and was anxious to pick out the pair of rider/driver I wanted to see the town with.
All lined in a row, I watched the horse's behavior. First one? UP, wound, alert. Second? UP too. Third? Head down, ears still, back leg cocked. His driver stood beside the carraige. We exchanged pleasantries. "Good morning, how are you, welcome to San Antonio" - all those niceties. I walked up to the horse's face again, and he said, "Go ahead. You can pet if you want. He doesn't mind." I let the horse sniff my hand, and he started licking & chewing. I said to the driver, "He speaks well of you. The only quiet one in the bunch today, and that's saying a lot in the cooler weather." The driver shrugged it off, explaining the horse was older, seasoned, etc. I laughed. "Still says a lot that he's so calm." I told R later, "THAT is the horse I want the ride with, or at least that driver. He's so quiet, it runs right down the reins. The horse feels how calm he is, and I want them taking us through town."
Later that evening, we got the driver, but a different horse. "His name is Surprise. He's a little younger, a bit more spunky, but we'll have a great ride. C'mon, let's go." The driver gave us what felt like a custom tour through town, as we turned away from the carraige in front of us down a different side road. As we wandered to the river walk to our left and below, R said to me, "Do you get the feeling we're getting a custom tour off the beaten path, or is it just me?" I giggled, "Yeah, I think we got this from our chat this morning."
The driver told us early on, "Surprise doesn't like buses, and diesel engines. Otherwise, he's a great boy." Sure enough, Surprise's head came up, and ears on as we passed two tour buses. Once by the buses, he calmed right back down. His "go and whoa" were all verbal from the driver, and I was amazed at his attentiveness (for a horse!). As we stopped at a red light, a neighboring vehicle rolled down his driver window, and smooched at him. Surprise, hoping for a cookie, backed up and stuck his nose in the window. :) *giggle* Go horse! The driver quickly rolled that window right back up, too... HAH!
Surprise found one more thing on our journey he didn't trust - the Animal Control truck. I can only assume he smelled something inside that was scared, and was afraid himself. The driver went from calm, laughing, half turned-around talking with us, to eyes and body forward, talking calmly to Surprise. "Surprise, whoa. Whoa... Walk on, walk on. Surprise, whoa. walk on." After about 20 seconds of "Ears up, sheer fear", Surprise walked swiftly past the truck. He wanted to trot, and I could tell he was quite scared, but he pushed through. When our ride ended, I made sure Surprise knew what an awesome horse he was. By then, however, he was back to "quiet calm, leg cocked, resting".
A fantastic carraige ride. Surprise and his driver make a great team!