The site of the Old Tin Shack still has a hitching rail. We had the six animals tied to said rail late Sunday morning as we were breaking camp.
One member of our party is not a horseman. He was folding up a blue tarp, and in the process of doing so, gave it a vigorous shake to get the dirt off. Now, next to perhaps grizzly bears, blue tarps represent the thing most feared by horses. The area of the hitching rail erupted with the thunder of 24 hooves trying to affect the escape of 12 wild eyes from this dreaded monster. With no two animals headed in the same direction, the rail came free of its moorings. Wunderbar.
After the animals were calmed down, we were able to re-engineer the rail. Bailing twine has many uses.
Next came loading the pack animals. Today, the mule would be carrying the pack boxes, with the pack bags on the horse. As I lowered the second box onto the pack saddle, something inside clanked, and spooked her into absolute terror. She took off at a run.
SL had her lead rope, and did not let go. She began running in a circle around him. As we had been unable to tie the boxes down, they were banging against her sides, making a bad situation worse. She was looking to SL for help, while he just talked to her in a soothing voice until she calmed down. The boxes were lashed down, and he led her through the nearby woods, so that she could get the feel of the boxes hitting trees and making noise. I told SL that he could lead the mule today. I would be happy to lead the pack horse, thank you very much.
By this time all the animals were adrenaline charged. The first hour of the ride out was chaos. Smokey would not walk, choosing instead to jig-jog. This is something that infuriates me, as it is very unpleasant to ride, not to mention with a horse right in front of him, I kept having to pull him back. With one hand on the pack horses lead rope, and the other fighting the horse with the reins, I was very busy, and none too happy.
Under questioning, I will deny that I may have, at some point, offered to solve Smokey's behavior with .357 solutions. Just saying.
The tide finally broke when the mule got loose from SL. She spun around, and headed up the trail at a run. Silence befell our group. It was broken when SL said, "she'll be back". As if on cue, she reappeared, headed at us at a dead run. I pulled the pack horse in close, ready to maneuver both horses in whatever direction would keep us safe.
She stopped abreast of our group. SL retrieved her, and we started out once again. This seemed to have broken the tension, as the rest of the ride was calm and uneventful, except for the Mule Deer doe that briefly appeared on the trail.
All because of a blue tarp.