When Army horses retire I find good homes for them. I don't believe in auctioning them off as I think that after an animal has served the Army he deserves a better fate than ending up on a plate in Paris or Japan. Of course, that means I often end up with four-legged "military retirees" at my property. In addition to providing a retirement home for Army horses I also often have injured or rehabilitating "active duty" horses at my place. This past weekend I had two horses in rehab that needed some exercise. One, an old thoroughbred (TB) who recently injured himself in retirement when he cast himself against the side of his stall and, another, a quarterhorse (QH) mix, who was recovering from both a splint bone fracture and an eye injury. Some folks take their work home in a briefcase, I take mine home in a horse trailer. In any case, I decided to take them out for some exercise this weekend by riding the QH and ponying the TB. It sounds simple enough--you just ride one of them and tow the other behind like a dinghy behind a boat. Ha! There is nothing simple where horses are concerned. The two started out well enough but about 45 minutes into the trip they both started acting like a couple of five-year-olds in a station wagon on a cross country vacation. First starts the "I gotta be first" phenomenon. The TB, who despite his 27 years, thinks he is still a foal and insists that he be at least one nose-length ahead of the QH. The QH responds by picking up his pace to a trot which is immediately matched by the TB, only a little faster. If left unchecked, we'd have been moving across the high chaparral at supersonic speeds. I respond by reining back the QH and pulling hard on the lead rope on the TB. Like a well oiled machine, the QH would slow and the TB would cross in front causing both horses to come to a complete stop. This happened, oh, maybe 600 times in the 90 minutes we were out. Naturally, I had forgotten to wear my gloves which soon became a problem as the strain the TB was putting on the lead rope was causing friction burns on my right hand which would, on occasion, actually burst into open flames. The other fun characteristic of the ride was that the QH would suddenly just stop and decide he wasn't going any further. I'd look around thinking that he was pooping but it was just a case of "I'm bored with this and I'm stopping here". The TB would immediately circle around the front getting the lead rope tangled in the QH's neck, tack, me, etc. Since, I had also forgotten my spurs I was reduced to using regular heal power to get the big lump moving again while trying to untangle the lead rope from around my neck. This continuous nonsense made a 90 minute ride seem like an epic journey into the Twighlight Zone. I was repeatedly tempted to yell at them "don't force me to stop this ride!" The two horses would just look at me when this feeling came over me as if saying, "You poor, poor man, we don't do this because we want to, we just feel we owe it to you". My difficulties with the horses did not go unnoticed. The cattle we encountered on the ride openly smirked at me. "Can't hold your horses", they would seemingly say, and then moo to each other under their breath in derision. After much humiliation and a massive effort to suppress the desire to sell both horses to the nearest taco shop, I managed to get them home safely. Maybe I should take up chickens.