Saturday, August 29, 2009

Ring Ring... This is Gabbrielle Calling

I hadn't ridden Lostine since her last trail ride several weeks ago, so I wanted to take her for a spin in an arena this morning. My neighbor's painters are still parking next to my bathroom window at 6:30 every morning and painting that garage. I just don't get it. I can stain the outside of my barn with a paint brush in two days, so why does it take weeks for a professional crew with all the right equipment to paint a stinkin' garage? How many coats of paint does my neighbor need? Anyway, all the paint fumes, tarps flapping, compressor noises, hammering, and radio blasting made it unpleasant enough that I didn't want to ride at home.

Just as I was getting ready to catch Lostine to trailer her somewhere, my friend pulled up into my driveway and told me to ride at her place. I guess she noticed that it's getting harder and harder to ride on my property with all the activity in the neighborhood. My friend has many more acres than I do, and no neighbors near her riding arenas. Going to her place is a heck of a lot easier than trailering out. I can just walk my horse across the street. I had tweaked my back during my equitation lesson on Thursday, and I really didn't want to have to put too much an effort into riding today, so I accepted her offer. These are her only neighbors to the east...

Mighty good looking neighbors, if you ask me.

I am ashamed to say that I had zero control over Lostine. I couldn't control her speed and I couldn't control her steering. That's what happens when you have only one rider and three horses. Whichever horses are not being ridden on a regular basis turn into a handful during their time off. I feel like I spend so much time just retraining the basics. I had those reins cranked so tight and Lostine just kept alternating between a fast trot and a canter. Other than whoa, she just wasn't responding to any cues to slow her gaits. We were either stopped or we were rocketing down the rail. A nice, slow jog wasn't in the cards today.

Then I remembered the dressage exercises my equitation instructor taught me. He said you always trot up the center line, halt, salute the judges, and then start your routine. When I tried that with Bombay he got it perfect the first time and every time after that. When I tried that with Lostine, she couldn't even make it to the halt point without snaking back and forth or trotting sideways toward the side rail. So, I just did it over and over until finally she trotted in a straight line and halted immediately on cue. Then we did small circles, large circles, X's and serpentines. Fortunately, she calmed down since we had a goal that forced her to concentrate.

I realized that while Lostine does better on the trails than Bombay, Bombay does better in arenas. Lostine just doesn't have the patience to practice transitions along the rail of an arena, repeatedly going in circles. She wants to be out seeing the world. She probably feels that she doesn't get anything out of giving someone a ride in circles. Bombay, on the other hand, likes to learn new skills in safe places, but worries too much about bogeymen in bushes on trails.

I was so totally impressed with how Lostine walked right next to vehicles she's never seen before, wheelbarrows, sprinklers, boxes, cones, chairs, and whatnot without an inkling of concern. My friend was dragging cardboard boxes around, and Lostine totally ignored her. The trail riding I've done with her has made my friend's place a lot less scary for her. Earlier this spring she was snorting and leaping at anything in the landscape that looked slightly different from the ground... trees, rocks, baling twine, a stray piece of garbage... you name it.

When I got home, Gabbrielle was all over me...

She was so convinced that I was carrying treats in my cell phone case that was attached to my belt loop.

Then Bombay had to get in the game and start nibbling it too.

Just when I wasn't paying attention, Gabbrielle ripped the case right off my belt loop and took off running with my cell phone.

She dropped it on the ground and turned to pick it up again, but I grabbed it before she could step on it. I guess she needed to make a phone call. These horses are so silly.


Breathe said...

LOL!!! Time to get her one of her own. Pretty soon she'll be texting you from outside:

Gabrielle : Hi mom.

Mom: Um, Hi.

Gabrielle: Lostine is being mean to me.

Mom: I'm kind of busy... Can you handle it.

Gabrielle: U told me not to kick him. But he needs a kick.


Gabrielle: Ok, ok. wol*. text u l8r.

*whinny out loud.

photogchic said...

Sounds like once you put her to work with your "exercises" she offered you some good stuff! Cool!

fernvalley01 said...

My old mare was bombproof on trails or moving cows , but in an arena ... goofy ,I once excused myself from a trail class 1) because I was laughing so hard 2) she was acting like everything in the ring was a horse killer . Did I mention we were once 50 yards from a GRIZZLY SOW WITH CUBS and she didn't spook !

Mary Olson said...

Sounds like you found a good way to get Lostine more focused. That's what's great about riding - it takes some creativity and problem solving skills to work through things and keep your horse from getting bored or too wound up.

You might have to get a line added to your phone plan for Gabbrielle.

Paint Girl said...

I find the same thing here, I will really work Brandy, but Fritzy gets left to stand and watch, or vice versa. It is so hard to get them both going good, at the same time!
Gabrielle is such a stinker! Stealing your cell phone, too cute, good thing she didn't step on it!

Abraham Lincoln said...

Hey. Nice set of photos. Funny too.

Pick a Peck of Pixels

Katharine Swan said...

That's what happens when you have only one rider and three horses.

This is one of the reasons why I'm reluctant to get another horse, even if we find horse property. If we do, and I want a companion for Panama, I'll probably find him an unrideable one -- a small donkey, or a rescue horse that can't be ridden. It would actually be nice to be able to give a home to a horse that will have a hard time finding one otherwise, because they're just a big lawn ornament.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Awwww, that's so cute. Thanks for the giggle. :)