Wednesday, June 30, 2010

dam nice view

A very good ride, though some unexpected twists. When I got to the barn I didn't have a plan. It was hot, 98 or so. I was lazy. I got my saddle and stuff out, got Major from pasture, contemplated not going for a ride. But this week is busy, and this was my best opportunity.

Didn't want to ride in the hot arena, so just headed off down the trail. Thought maybe to stay in the forest where it is shady. Major was being good, so I thought maybe we'd go a bit further. I settled to heading towards Granite Bay. We went to a fabulous lookout point on the trails at Twin Rocks. These are very heavily traveled by mountain bikers, but I hadn't seen anyone. We were heading up a trail at a trot, and there was a biker coming down. I moved into the grassy side, kept moving, letting him go by. Didn't even think about it until later, when I realized I'd never been with Major and seen a bike. Guess they don't bother him! I do think it helps that I didn't care in the least. That was the only other person I saw all day. Guess it was too hot! At the top of the hill is a great view of the lake and the dam. Hadn't been on that trail in years!

Coming home up one hill Major did decide to not listen to my leg and the tree trunk was just too close. My knee will survive, but looked pretty ugly, and my new breeches will need a creative sewing job. Damn! For that we turned away from home and went down a big hill he doesn't like, sidepassing and listening the whole way...

On the way out we had a great pace, 7.5 mph, but coming home did slow a bit and do a lot of walking for the last 20 minutes, wanted to get Major cooled down. A good hosing off, good beet pulp snack and called it a night. He'll get a couple days off, and hopefully a ride on a newly revised Avery Pond trail on Friday.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

trail miles

I'll be riding tonight, but a post by Karen Chaton about her horse Chief got me thinking. She wrote: "Some said that Chief was just too green but he had over 800 trail conditioning miles before going to his first endurance ride." When I worry about my goals, I'm going to remember this. Riding should be fun, and a goal can be farther away or closer, but the fun it takes to get there may be the best part. Just adding up the mileage this year, we're only at 165 miles. We have a long way to go. As Robert Frost wrote, "And miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep."

Monday, June 28, 2010

summer officially arrives

Last week was hot, and this week is supposed to be even hotter. Living in California, I knew it was coming, but 103 degrees still sneaks up on you. I'll be needing to get out and ride early or late...that'll be new for Major.

On Friday I took Major out with a friend. It was actually cloudy and we got a couple drops of rain. Didn't do a long ride, but he is improving with another horse. At one point however, he lost his brain a bit. The other horse had an obstacle that was causing some issues. Since Major was brave about it, we went first. But it was best for the other horse to do the horse-eating-rock-and-ditch obstacle a couple times. As the other horse turned away and went up the hill, Major thought he was being left! He pitched quite a little fit, which just made him do more work. He calmed right down, but here is a horse who is great alone, but 20 minutes with another horse on the trail and they're best friends. And at an endurance ride this would be multiplied, I know I have a lot of training to do!

This weekend a friend competed in her first endurance ride, and I met another woman who is retraining her trail horse after she took a bad fall. I love that there are so many people with so much passion, and while the end result may be different (endurance, trail, dressage, jumpers) in the end it is all the love of a horse.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

why I ride

Days like this are why I ride. 80 degrees, warm breeze, Major on the trail having fun. Saddled up, headed out to the lake. The water is so high, so trails that usually are 40 feet above the water are only about 10! Kept the pace restrained going out, averaged 5.7 mph, which is pretty good on the rocky, narrow trails. I'm be afraid on wide-open trials, there'd be no stopping! We'll be working to get better brakes installed before anything like that. Major is very good about slowing on downhills and over rocks. At the staging area (4.75 mile mark) I went a bit farther just to check the trail. It was boring heading toward the dam, so headed back. I let Major trot (within safety limits) as fast as he wanted (the trail is wider, more open, mostly flat). He trotted the .71 miles back to the staging area at 13.8 mph! So that is his fast trot! I was amazed at that, but would rather keep it at a nice working trot. He is still fighting to go faster, but going home was a more sedate 7.3 mph. Total was 11 miles, I'd love to get a longer ride in, but am glad we're improving our trail behavior and time, there is time enough for other plans.

At home Major tried the complimentary De-Lyte Bites that were sent to us. I have never tried any electrolytes, and Major will eat almost anything (but not peppermints!). He took the treat from me, and did the "I'm chewing something different" face. That became the "look at me, I'm cute, I'd like more please" face. He got one more, I'll save the other two for now. He definitely thought they were yummy! I forgot to take them in my saddle bag, but they seem like they'd hold up well.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

hot trails, hot horse

It is hot, and we're not used to it. Major was already sweating when I got him from pasture. In the shade it was not too bad, so I thought a nice ride in the forest would be good. We were having a nice time, mostly walking, when asked for a trot he was just in a mood to pull, and pull and pull. Faster and faster, I hate that contest. I "win" but am not happy about the behavior. We'll be working on it. We worked on stopping lightly from voice and seat, on backing, on listening. Having the lesson last week reminded me of the holes in his education as well. Holes that I need advice on how to fill. I talked with the trainer, who is willing to take me on some trail rides, as it is hard to replicate the behaviors in the arena. I'm looked forward to it, better communication for all of us.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


I'm proud of my horse. Last week was really busy, and didn't have much time for riding. I worked in the arena on Wednesday, cantering circles both directions! It is something I've never much worked on. He did object one time with a buck, but right back to work fixed that. On Thursday I decided to try the group lesson at the stable down the road. We rode over to the stable, where there are lots of scary thing: picnic tables, chickens, other horses, a pig. Major saw the pig, his eyes went wide and head up...but then I walked him over to it, he smelled it, nosed it, and then thought it was a toy (it was not he had to be reminded, it was Buckley the pig). Once that was over, Major was more interested in some leftover food.

Into the lesson, with six other horses! Places in the arena were a bit unsettling: a pallet next to the fence, horses eating on the other side. But once we started working and trotting he forgot most of it, and realized this was work! And in an arena! And he didn't like it! He tried to stop a couple times, to remind me that he was done, we'd practiced enough. Well, we hadn't so we rode, with everyone else, rode in pairs a couple items, cantered some, all without much fuss. The best part of the night was when the trainer (who helped me when I was buying Major) said he'd come a long way. I was a proud parent all night!

Monday, June 7, 2010

scuba horse

Sunday was hot, probably the hottest day of the year. And Major did NOT want to leave the stable, where he'd just finished breakfast. It was too early, too hot, too much work. But we took the same trail as Friday, with the intention of going to Avery Pond. Got out on the trail, he moved out just fine. We did walk a lot in the shade, neither of us motivated to keep trotting. At Rattlesnake was when I discovered my scuba horse! We waded into the water, where about 10 times he dunked his entire head, up to the browband, into the lake! He wasn't that hot, I think he was just playing! I really want to take this horse swimming, I bet he'd love it. He is also a hippo (which makes sense, hippopotamus meaning water horse!) and enjoys eating the wet weeds that are under the water. We went past this about a half mile, but my ambition for Avery Pond was flagging.

Going home we picked up the pace...but a bit too much. At one point I lost all brakes, not fun! And making me realize we need more schooling. In the arena this is not a problem, but rating is becoming a tug-of-war, not what I want. After the small battle, all was OK, and we got home in one hot piece. I was going to do some arena work,I know I need to, but the sun was blazing and Major got a good hosing off, a carrot and a roll in the dirt.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

friday adventures

Not working on Friday has great advantages. This week was slightly overcast, not too hot, and I hit the trail with a friend. Took her to Rattlesnake, where she hadn't been in awhile, our horses got along nicely. Her horse Dune has a nice even trot, I put Major in behind and he learned to slow down and just deal with it. I need many more miles of that! Putting him in front and letting him trot more quickly made her horse canter, we didn't want to do that. The lake was full, buckeye trees are blooming, there is still a bit of green tot the grass, and good company: a good adventure.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

back in the saddle

One week of rain, one week of being sick, I was pretty nervous about what two weeks off had done to my horse! I thought i'd just take a short ride around the forest. Tacked up as usual, headed for the arena. After about four laps, I was bored (I know, I need to work on this) and we headed for the gate. Major was a bit reluctant up the road and in the beginning of the forest, I think he though that life was just hanging out in pasture eating. At one point he was lagging and I worried he was lame/felt off/something. I turned for home...and got a ground-eating sound trot...ok, no problems but laziness!

Once we got onto the lake trials, he was great. He remembered our latest agreement, trot the flats and uphills, must walk the downhills and slow over rocks. At one point going up a slight hill be started cantering. I probably should have pulled him back, but he was being good (not running off) and I knew right where we were and how we'd stop at the top. It was great fun! He didn't make me nervous, maybe I have to trust him on that. Certainly need to work on our cardio, but so very few places to canter more than 100 feet. Need that trailer to find more places to explore!

Went up to the lake by Los Lagos, hadn't been there before with him. Unfortunately the trail through Los Lagos is overgrown...the owners probably like it like that, not having to share their fancy space, but it was a nice trail. Going home was pretty good, he did want to canter at two other points going home, and was being a bit of a brat, so I actually let him because the hill is really steep...gee, about half-way up he thought that cantering was too hard, but I made him continue anyway. At the top of one hill we cantered up and came upon a hobbled mule and owner relaxing! Major wasn't even spooked by their sudden appearance. The mule was beautiful, and I'd love Major learn how to hobble.

I'm proud of my horse, two weeks off and really just his usual self. Which yes, still has his issues, but most days I really can see the progress from 10 months ago when I bought him. I certainly hope the weather will start behaving like California again, all this rain every couple weeks is strange. We're not supposed to have rain May–September!