Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Sunday Morning Trail Ride

Sunday morning I had a choice of driving to the north end of Reno for the beginning of the Region III Arabian Horse Show or trying to get Bombay out on the trails. My friend's granddaughter was showing one of her colts at halter, but somehow I always manage to miss their class every year. So, I opted for giving Bombay more exposure. Call me a meanie or a weenie or whatever you please, but I gave him some Quietex ahead of time to make sure that I could actually mount and ride him this time. That last time I took him to this trail he got out of control, kicked me while kicking a fly off his abdomen and nearly trampled me when spooking sideways at every little thing. He is one high-strung horse.

My memory failed me, because I thought I was supposed to give him the Quietex an hour ahead of time, but it turned out that the instructions said two hours ahead. If I waited two hours to ride him, it would have been too hot and interfered with his lunch break. There are some people who have told me that herbal calming powders and pastes do wonders for their horses, but I wasn't seeing much of a difference in his behavior during the trailer ride to the trail head, and during his walk up the trail.

I have to walk the horses to a certain point on this trail, because they get so uptight about passing by all the signs and a field of sheep. Once the terrain becomes predictable, they settle down and I can mount. The problem with Bombay is that he's so tall that I can't even get my left foot in the stirrup. My husband gave me a boost and miraculously my left foot slipped into the stirrup on the way up so that I was able to put all my weight there instead of on my husband's laced fingers.

Bombay was crowding me to avoid getting near each sign we passed when I was leading him, so I had to tap him on the shoulder to keep his attention on where I was in relation to him. He wanted to run sideways and knock me down or sneak behind me and then race forward to get past the signs quickly while I was in front of him. I'm tired of being snowplowed by my horse, so in these situations my riding crop is my best friend. Once I mounted and my husband led us, it was easier for me to keep him off my husband because I could use the riding crop, the reins, and my legs to push him over.

I was feeling disappointed that Bombay hadn't settled down more. After all, this wasn't his first time on this trail and I had given him the Quietex. Granted, it hadn't been a full two hours since I gave it to him. However, I thought something should have kicked in by then. My husband ended up having to lead the entire trip, because Bombay just wouldn't relax.

He was balking at shadows and trees that looked slightly different from other trees.

All the while I'm thinking I can't wait until I get my horses to the point where I can simply take them for a trail ride and enjoy the scenery.

When we reached my favorite fork in the road, I was trying to decide whether to take him to the water or take him over the rocks. He was very alert about the sound of water, so I suspected that taking him closer to it would only frighten him more.

Right then a man popped out of the bushes zipping up his zipper and buckling his belt. A short time after that a woman appeared behind him. They just stood there and stared at us. I didn't want to know what they were doing in the bushes by the river, so I chose to take Bombay over the rocks. He balked and spooked and jigged around the rocks, but didn't do a full spin like Lostine did when she saw them. From that point the trail got too narrow, so we turned around while we could. The man and woman were still standing there staring at us as we came back down the trail. I said, "He's in training," and they nodded.

They followed us down the trail a ways and then asked if this was Bombay's first time on the trails. I said yes, though it was really his second. I told them that he's only been ridden in arenas his entire life. The woman said, "It's so hard on horses the first time out. Lots of scary stuff."

I had a feeling these were horse people just by looking at them, and her comment convinced me that my impression was correct. She asked how old he is, and I said eleven. She said that is the perfect age.

My husband got silly and tipped his hat to the camera, taking a bow since he did most of the work leading Bombay. I think Bombay thought there might be a treat for him in that there hat.

Thanks to my husband for leading and to my daughter for documenting it all with my old Kodak camera.


monstersmama said...

He is so pretty! It will get better, he just needs miles.I have been riding my mare outside the arena and she just wont stop chomping she listens very well to me, but she just chomps and chomps and she shakes...her whole body I have to brace myself to keep from flopping all over the place! Good luck!

S. Lauren said...

Thats really neat how your family is helpful with your horsie goals and that your husband would walk all that way leading your horse. I'm sure with your patience that Bombay will quiet down on the trails, he is really beautiful!

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

monstersmama - I like to hear about how other horses handle the trails.

S. Lauren - I've probably worn out my welcome. My husband had led me twice on Lostine and once on Bombay. He might do it one more time for Gabbrielle, but I doubt he'll keep it up. He wants me to cut the umbilical cord, and so do I. I just want the horses to have a wee bit more confidence and be more relaxed before giving up the lead rope. This is like ponying a horse out on the trails for the first time, only I don't have an experienced horse to ride while leading the inexperienced horse.

Callie said...

Well, you got him out there! Good for you! I have never known Quietex to ever work, personally.

fernvalley01 said...

Hubby is a good guy! LOL about the couple in the bushes , bet they were surprised to see you!

Katharine Swan said...

This is like ponying a horse out on the trails for the first time, only I don't have an experienced horse to ride while leading the inexperienced horse.

Ha ha, it would sort of be like the blind leading the blind, wouldn't it? Though from what you've said about Gabbrielle, I'm willing to bet she'll be less spooky than either Lostine and Bombay. Who knows, maybe before long it'll be the baby teaching the older ones how to behave on the trail. :o)

Jenn said...

Is there anyone with a good, solid trail citizen you can ride with? Their calmness gives the nervous nellies something to cling to and learn from. I really think Lostine, and Bombay, would benefit immensely if you could ride them in a group with seasoned trail horses for a while.

Gabe is handling the trails very, very well so far, but I've taken him out with company each time and he looks to them for confidence. Soon, I'll be able to take him out alone and won't have to worry about him being a nervous nut because he (hopefully!) will have figured out by watching the other horses that trails aren't scary.

TCavanaugh said...

Wow! You truly have a very supportive family. I have trouble getting help to fill a water tank. Thanks for sharing your "trail tales".

Breathe said...

You know, my horse was like this and he was an experienced endurance horse.

I finally got him a little better, but after a year and a half he was still overly concerned unless there was another horse around. We only went out alone a few times because I just felt it was too dangerous.

I think you are doing a remarkable job, one I wasn't able to do!

jane augenstein said...

Good luck with your horses. When Gilly was younger, before I started to ride, I walked him all over the place. Lots of exercise for me! It was good for him and he got to see a lot of the countryside. Gilly was never in an arena very much, so he didn't get soured on them. It's too bad that people don't trail ride their horses as well as work in the arena. It's good for the horse to see new sights. Hope your horses get used to the trails and become more calm for you. Then you can have some really fun rides.
Great post, great pictures!!!
~Jane and Gilly~

manker said...

gorgeous scenery.. great mental victory for you and a hat tip on back to your hubby.. what a guy

happy trails

Paint Girl said...

Bombay reminds me alot of Brandy. She was 9 yrs old before she started her trail riding career. She was a nightmare on the trails! 5 years later, I can now have an almost relaxing trail ride. Still have some issues, but it has gotten so much better.
I think Bombay will get better with more experience. What a sweet hubby and daughter to go out with you! Your trails are beautiful!!

Leah Fry said...

He really is a pretty boy. Hope he calms down for you. I hate when they act just plain stupid, seemingly forgetting everything you've ever taught them.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

I think you're brave, NM. I also think it's wise of you to have your hubby lead your horses until they get enough confidance and experience. It's better to be safe anyway. It would be great if, when you finally do venture out on your own, that you're able to ride with a more experienced trail horse buddy and maybe in a small group.

I hope my hubby will maybe lead me and my horse the first times I am out on the trail again....and maybe even in the arena, too. haha!
I know I will be a nervous nelly the first few times.

Your trails are so beautiful. I hope your horses will be able to relax soon, so you can enjoy those beautiful vistas son.