Monday, July 25, 2011

friday ride

This ride was the same trail as my solo fast ride, but now with added friends! Riding alone is great for horse and human, and riding with friends is great too. I like having a balance and doing both, and I think it is really good for Major to understand different behavior and riding styles.

Heading up the road were Major, Friday and Dune. Friday and Major are buddies, but Dune doesn't come out too much with us. He can be a handful, but I knew his mom was up to the the challenge, if someone just challenged her! We have all been there: a bit scared to push to the next level because our horse bucks/spins/spooks/goes too fast/insert problem here. I have done this through many situations with Major, as has Friday’s mom Christie. We also know the only way to get past the problem is to address it, hopefully in a controlled situation.

So we started trotting, and told Dune to deal with it, to keep up, and when the horses are kept moving they can't do much else. Major was in the front and his trotting speed keeps Dune very busy! We kept trotting even over the wooden bridge, slowed for rocks, but just kept going. We did all change places from time to time, and pretty quickly we were at the pond, where we all wandered down to the water to get a drink/stare at boats. We did continue on a bit to the Mormon Ravine bridge, where the water was really rushing underneath. It really unnerves Major, but after some tap-dancing across the bridge, we got across (just look straight ahead, we ARE going across, deal with it.) Going back across was less tap-dancing, and we walked along the lake shore, watching the fisherman on the other side of the ravine (and seeing a giant fish swimming on our side!).

There is a lovely spot for a snack break, where the horse got a few carrots and we got granola bars (Major got a bite of mine). After that it was back in the saddle for the ride home. This was going to be more of a challenge, because of course we are now going home, and all the horse want to move faster. But they were still OK with Major in the lead (I can certainly slow him down, but he loves his fast trot). We were able to move out pretty well, in a few places I even let Major do the BIG trot, but it really is too fast for most of this trail. Only once did Dune need me to slow down, and when we finally paused at the top of a hill, everyone was happy, and there was no silliness in horses or scared people. That is a successful ride!
elevation change on this ride, more than 1500 feet of up and down!

At the top of that hill it suddenly seemed super hot! We could go home the way we came, a bit longer, or shortcut home. We all looked at each other, and everyone agreed on the shortcut! The only problem with the shortcut is the blackberry bushes try to grab you, and ouch! So after dodging them for a bit I remembered my handy multi-tool with clippers, and both Major and Dune did some trail clearing. Friday got to follow in our cleared-out wake, and while we paused anyone not with clippers got to eat the delicious berries. At a point we all dismounted, and ate our way along the trail.
scary thing ahead!

We have to walk along the road a bit, with no shoulder or horse path. There are always good obstacles to encounter, and Major was in the lead, power walking home, when a monster behind some trees made him pause. He had his head-high snorty look, and I had to capture it, because it was so silly. We walked another 5 feet and he saw the man with the lawn-clippings bag, and just walked past (Major says: There was nothing scary, I wasn’t scared, what are you talking about? I was just posing!).

All the horses really seemed to have a good time, and by extension their people did as well. I know how hard it is to be the person who is being “pushed” into the situation, but I also know that is good for you in the long run (like eating your vegetables). Trotting along, not being able to worry, to just live in the moment and deal with the situation and push though it, will teach you more than any arena exercise. Those exercises have their place, but there is then the practical application that needs to be experienced.

clean and shiny...for now

My old trainer had quite a collection of sayings, and every lesson she’d go through the litany. Sometimes it got pretty repetitive, and we’d get tired of the stories. But she had spent a lot of time with horses, and most of them ring pretty true. The one for this situation: The horse will live up to, or down to, your expectations.

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