Yesterday evening I was in the process of putting the horses into their pens for the night, after a long, glorious ride on Shadow, when a (spotless) white mini-SUV pulled over to the side of the Jerome Creek road at the head of the driveway a couple hundred yards away, and a woman's voice started cooing loudly at Palantir, who had gone rushing up to the fence.
"Oh what a sweet thing you are! Ooo, you are so cute and so wonderful! What a sweetie! What a cute thing!" and piercingly on in the still evening air.
Palantir was not being friendly; he was there demanding his dinner, which is usually delivered about that time in a small white (filthy) truck. I assumed the people in the car must be friends of K&A, or maybe even G&N since it was G&N's horse the woman was being so forward with; besides, I was in the middle of the somewhat delicate process of getting Sikem, without a halter, into his pen, and not Snickers's, where he would eat all her grain (just a nibble for each to entice them to do as I wished), and then getting Snickers into her pen without Sikem leaving his, and so on and so forth. The three horses are actually very well-behaved, and usually do exactly what I want them to do, although not ever without letting me know that they are much bigger and faster than me and are merely humoring me because they feel a bit sorry for me, slow, doltish two-legged beast that I am.
Shadow is the most flagrant about this. Yesterday before our ride, for example, the horses had been grazing about ½ mile away or more, up a steep hill at least a 10-minute panting, sweaty walk from the house. They do not come when called.
I had a small amount of grain in a metal can, and they know the sound. Often what I do is walk hike, panting, up to them, halter the one I want, use the lead rope to make rudimentary reins, jump on, and ride bareback back down to the yard. Shadow, however was having none of this. As soon as I was within about 30 feet of her, she lifted her head from her grazing, rallied Snickers and Sikem with a toss of her mane, and they all galloped down the hill and away. Yes . . . right where I wanted them to be . . . but definitely on their own terms. I trudged back down, still carrying the halter and the grain. I took the precaution of closing the gate to the upper pasture as I went through, just in case they attempted to run by me again, but Shadow was relatively easy to catch after this. I made the lead-rope reins anyway and rode her back over to the gate, opened it again for the other horses, and then we went on our way up to the Garage Mahal to tack up. All in all, preparation for a ride can take as long as the ride itself.
At any rate, Ian had come out of the house with Spackle and Tessa, who joined Sadie, Hoover and Dusty who had been with me, all five dogs barking their various barks at the unknown vehicle, and he went down and crossed the creek to see what they wanted.
"Hi!" said the woman brightly. "Can we talk to you for a little bit about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints?" she asked, leaning out of the passenger window. "We're missionaries based in Potlatch."
"Well," said Ian, "We don't actually live here—a minister lives here, in fact, and we're just housesitting, and unfortunately I don't have time to talk right now—we have to get the animals in. Maybe you could come back another time," he suggested. "I'm sure the owners would be happy to have a discussion with you. (Sorry, K.) I'd take one of your cards, though," Ian finished, ever the polite one.
They handed over a card and asked permission to turn around in our yard, which Ian granted, assuming he'd put them off from any more proselytizing for the day. As they turned around in the yard, though, as soon as they reached hailing distance of me, just finishing latching gates, the woman leaned out her window again and called to me just as cheerfully as she had to Ian. "Can I interest you in any information about the Morman Church?" she asked brightly.
"No thank you, not at this time," I replied politely.
"Well, whenever you're ready, we're everywhere!" she exclaimed, exuding joy.