Today's ride on Kerry, Skye and Rose was to be one of our many preparation rides for The Great Adventure. The idea being that we ride on different terrains and areas, making use of the maps and to practice our orienteering and problem solving.
The ride started well with parking up in a great area, quickly crossing the road and soon getting onto some fantastic trails which took us through beautiful woodland.
Our first small hitch was losing a phone and Kerry losing a shoe, despite being booted up to the eyeballs (horses eh?). We doubled back most of the way we had come to find them (on two separate occasions because it would have been much to easy to have worked out that we had lost both at the same time!).
We then carried on a very short while before discovering that the path marked on the maps didn't actually exist (no, really!), so we doubled back, thinking that we had missed something. The horses were SO good while we clambered over branches and rode them in between trees, carefully avoiding collapsed fencing and holes.
Up ahead, things were looking promising as we noticed a flat track which we were positive was our path so Lauren took Skye out in front to investigate.
Lauren rode up the slope to check out the state of the track and see whether it was passable when disaster struck!
Skye began to behave completely unlike her and started freaking out and kicking herself. Lauren was desperately trying to get Skye back as she was dangerously close to getting herself stuck in the fence. We were all trying to work out what was wrong... Was it colic? Or was she already stuck in the fence?!
Lauren leaped from Skye's back to try to get her to safety! At that moment, we all found out the problem as Lauren was instantly stung at several points of her body.
Mum and I were still waiting, powerless, below when Lauren screamed: "WASPS!" and released Skye who bolted down to her friends. Mum quickly dismounted to catch her and I moved Kerry to blockade Skye between Mum and Rose and Kerry.
We began to pull wasps from Skye's body as quickly as possible (me with complete reckless abandon and Mum with a little more caution being allergic!) but then the wasps were landing on the other horses!
Kerry suddenly turned himself inside out and began to buck, running into the other horses in his panic and pain. I managed to regain control because of how honest he is but not before I had shouted to mum to let go of Skye so that she wasn't trampled!
As soon as Skye was loose, she began to storm for 'home' which immediately sent alarm bells wailing because of how close the road was! Kerry and I set off after them as quickly as possible as Mum went to see to Lauren who was still covered in wasps and writhing in agony!
Kerry managed to overtake Rose and we quickly tried to catch Skye, who had almost reached the short driveway leading to the road. He was amazing and did exactly as asked to drop down a short slope in front of Skye and we grabbed her, continuing to lead her forward for a short way so that she didn't panic about being trapped. We then grabbed Rose on the other side, knowing that she would return to her friends no matter how worried she was.
As we stood, I swatted wasps from Skye who was rapidly coming up in hives and managed to get rid of the nasty creatures from all of the horses.
By this point, I was extremely worried about Lauren. Everyone knows how brave she always is and she had made these horrible wailing noises which made it clear just how much pain she was in.
Mum had to physically pull wasps from her face and neck because they were curled in on themselves on full attack mode. Mum also stripped her jacket, gloves and hat off and managed to find Lauren's necklace, which had broken as Lauren swatted herself.
A couple of moments later, Lauren and Mum found Me with all three horses and breathed a sigh of relief. "I told you she would have them." Mum told Lauren but had looked just as worried as Lauren in the second before she registered us!
Lauren was just about to pull her jacket back on when she suddenly freaked that there were wasps in it (there were) so remounted in just her t-shirt.
We had only ridden a short way when Lauren realised that she had dropped her whip and one of her MacWet gloves (translated for the laymen as her favourite whip and competition gloves). I think it stands to say how shaken and in pain she was that she actually said "I just want to go home." Instead of going back for them.
Because Lauren was tingling all over, it took her a while to realise that she was still getting stung! There was a wasp under her t-shirt which Lauren was actually going to leave there because of how badly she wanted to get home!
Mum and me had to order her to stop and we got rid of the wasp. I gave Lauren my jacket to ride home in and took her (still buzzing) clothes, holding them a good way from Kerry.
We managed to ride back to the box with the horses on best behaviour (although the same can't be said for the person who overtook us on a bend when we were almost at the carpark and then tried to scoot back in when there was oncoming traffic, forcing Skye up onto the pavement... As if she hadn't been through enough that day)!
Back at the lorry, we bathed our brave horses in peppermint and lavender wash by Barrier to sooth their stings and bring down any hives. Lauren also got a treatment and an anti-histamine.
The horses really couldn't have been any better or braver in what was definitely one of the worst situations we have ever ridden in! So many horses would have bolted and not been soothed by anything but ours were so brave to trust us to sort them out! Kerry calmed down so quickly and then managed to calm the others down which shows his heart!
Skye and Lauren are both okay and recovered well. Lauren had been stung around 50 times in at least 25 different spots of her body and was extremely sore and itchy for days. We are so thankful that none of the horses or us suffered allergic reactions or shock because it would have been a completely different outcome if we hadn't been lucky.
Mum said to me many times that day that I was "a hero". I think we all were, ponies included. My sister was so brave and managed to get herself and her horse out of the nest despite how much pain they were in, Mum had extremely quick reactions and dismounted Rose to jump and grab Skye, proceeding to brave possible stings (which, as I mentioned earlier: she's allergic to!) for the good of the horses and her kids! When she couldn't help Skye anymore, she went straight to Lauren's aid and Kerry was calmed so quickly after he got stung that he managed to catch all of the other horses.
There have been so many times where, in terrible situations, people pull together. Not just in the horse community but also with terrorist attacks and fires where people are offering free lifts, beds or stables... It makes me feel stronger in a time where the world is a scary place.
Maybe there's a hero in all of us.