Saturday, June 12, 2010

First Trail Ride Alone

As you can see by the title, my new trail riding buddy didn't work out. She stood me up twice. She was a young teenager, and I think her mother was really paranoid about her riding with someone she doesn't know, so I'll have to keep looking for a riding partner. In the meantime, I decided to just take the risk of riding alone. Both my son and husband are no longer interested in hiking. They are going through a skateboarding phase right now.

This weekend my community has a big celebration with a parade through town, a carnival, a marathon, and many other activities. Last night I was surprised to find fireworks just outside my back door. Then this morning I could hear all the sirens from the parade. I figured everyone would be at the celebration and I could have the canyon to myself. As I was approaching the trail head, I saw signs all over the place warning of a bicycle race. Fortunately, they weren't using the trail head parking lot as one of the checkpoints for this race. The last time I tried trail riding there when a bicycle race was going on, I got kicked by my horse. He was too distracted by the bicycles to notice me standing beside him grooming him when he kicked a fly off his belly and planted his hoof in my thigh. Ouch.

Though I took the curves and turns gently, Bombay was struggling to stay upright in the trailer, and he got another boo boo on his face.

Since Bombay bloats his belly, I have to walk him a while before I can tighten the cinch, so I walked him up the trail to the bench where I could mount. I got a little lost, because there was a fork in the trail where there hadn't been before, and the trees had grown so much since the last time I was there. Plus the trails organization planted at least 20 new signs and trail markers. Bombay was having the fits about all these new things. It didn't help that they tied orange ribbons around the tops of the signposts, which rippled in the wind.

Each time we walked past a sign, he'd jump away from it as if it were going to bite him. In a couple of places they planted signs directly across from one another on the trail, so Bombay was bamboozled. I could see the wheels turning in his head... "If I jump to the left to get away from the sign on the right, then I'll jump into the sign on the left and if I jump to the right to get away from the sign on the left, then I'll jump into the side on the right. What do I do?"

So, of course, he trotted quickly right in between them.

He even spooked when a couple of horses walked past us. I had just finished assuring these ladies that I was alright, that I was just leading my horse up to the bench to mount and I hadn't fallen off when Bombay had a meltdown. I guess one of their horses gave him the evil eye or something.

Once in the saddle, he dislodged me sideways in one of his teleportations at a sign, so I uprighted myself and squeezed tighter with my thighs so that wouldn't happen again. He spooked all the way up and down the trail, but my butt didn't move an inch out of the saddle because my legs were clamped down good. I'm sure my body language of hanging on so tight didn't do anything to help Bombay's nerves, but it was necessary.

At one point I passed a couple on the trail with a dog. They had stepped off to the side to let me pass. The woman was holding a white plastic bag filled with dog poop in her hand and it was rustling in the wind. Bombay locked up his legs and refused to move forward. The lady thought he was scared of the dog, but I informed her he was scared of her bag, so she put it behind her back. I pushed him forward and we did pass successfully.

We had a straight-a-way, so I jogged him for a bit until we came across a couple of ladies with another dog. I could tell by the expressions on the ladies' faces that we were headed for trouble. They started scrambling around trying to catch their loose dog, screaming "SIT! STAY!"

They grabbed him by the collar and said, "It's okay, we've got him now! He's really bad about chasing horses."

They were standing in the middle of the trail I wanted to take and I didn't want to pass too close to the dog, so I had to take the fork the other way to stay safe. We got a ways up the fork and then I heard them yelling for their dog, "Stay away from that horse! Come back here!"

I looked over my shoulder to make sure the dog wasn't gaining on us. Fortunately, they caught it before it caught up to us. Once we were up out of the worst of the signs, Bombay started spooking sideways at every tree and bush we passed. I told him to stop that, because it's boring.

I wanted to get him up to the river to try crossing it again, but there was a lady with a dark horse in the shadows by the river and Bombay came to a screeching halt. He could see and smell that there was an animal up there, but he couldn't tell that it was just another horse. Or perhaps he knew it was the horse the had previously given him the evil eye. I tried pushing him forward, but he was about ready to blow.

Have you seen that TV show on MTV called "The OCD Project?" This psychiatrist tries to help people with varying degrees of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders work through their fears by facing them. One woman is afraid to drive, because she fears she will hit and kill someone, so the psychiatrist makes her drive everyone everywhere while he coaches her through it. Germophobics are made to pick up trash and limited in how much water they can use to clean themselves. It's really interesting.

Anyway, the psychiatrist knows just how far to push, and then if the patient is at such high anxiety levels that he or she may do something rash to escape the task, he releases them from the pressure and praises them for how far they made it. I knew I had pushed Bombay to his limit, so I allowed him to turn back and take another trail down. He wanted to trot back to the trailer, but I knew that's a bad habit for a horse to form. Trotting up the trail is fine, but it's always better to walk them back.

As we were coming down the trail head into the parking lot, some jerk had to honk at us not once, not twice, but eight times. I guess he was worried that my horse and I wouldn't notice him if he didn't keep honking. Fortunately, Bombay couldn't care less about that. He was more concerned about the sagebrush off to his right. While I had him tied to the side of the trailer, a big RV pulled into the lot and the driver decided to turn around. He drove that huge vehicle right up to about 5-feet away from my horse's butt. Bombay was very concerned, doing a little dance and snorting. I kept feeding him peppermints in hopes that he wouldn't pull back, break the lead rope and take off down the highway. People can be so incredibly stupid about horses.

I took a bad turn on the way home and Bombay fell in the trailer. I could hear him struggling to stand, and then saw his nose poke through the bars, so I knew he was upright. However, when I got him out of the trailer I saw this...

My trailer is fully padded, so he must have stepped on himself. I think I'm going to have to start giving him fuller leg wraps to protect more of his legs. I cleaned his wound and wrapped it up. He was humiliated that the only color I had was hot pink left over from Gabbrielle's knee injury.

The peanut gallery looks on...

I think his leg is fine. He's not showing any signs of pain or limping, and when I hosed him off, I could see that the blood had already clotted in the short 10-minute drive, so it wasn't too deep. I'll keep an eye on him to make sure he doesn't feel sore later. I think it's just a matter of keeping the wound clean until it heals.


Tammy said...

You had all sorts of encounters! I ride alone sometimes because I wouldn't ride near as much if I didn't, but I still don't like it. I hope you find a riding buddy.

A few years ago, we started Wednesday Ride Night. I would post on my website where to meet (different trails in the area) and whoever wanted to ride, just show up. The first time we had a handful of riders. Now we have 4 chapters in three different parts of our state. The group I ride with will have anywhere from 6 to 25 riders, depending on the trail. And the really cool thing is, we have made a lot of friends and many of us ride other places on other days, too.

We call our group the Platte RIver Riders. Here is a link to our webpage to give you an idea how it works:

YOu might consider something like that in your area. Perhaps post something at a local tack store & see if there are any bites.

Breathe said...

What an adventure! Is this your first time out on the trail alone?

I wish I was closer, you'd have a partner for sure!

You know, all your noisy neighbors probably helped with that honking car. That was so low on the list of things to worry about.

Maybe it's time to hang little orange tape around the paddock...

I'm surprised that Bombay got injured in the trailer. Do you tie him or leave him loose (I never know what's safer...)?

Congrats on getting out there. Sound like you got him to push the limits just enough.

Crystal said...

Aww I wish I lived closer, I am always looking for someone to ride with.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Breathe - I attach a trailer tie to his head, because it would be bad if he got his head down underneath the partition. I suspect what happened was he got his hind legs under him when I accelerated and then tried shifting his hooves as I turned and kicked himself. This is the first time out without anyone hiking alongside me.

KD said...

Congratulations on your solo ride and for staying on top! Sorry that your boy got some boo-boos though.

It's getting pretty warm here, so I have to get out early in the morning if I want to get a ride in.

Fantastyk Voyager said...

I'm sorry you had such a bad time of it. However, the good thing is that you DID it and came out okay, over all. I'm proud of you both. Could Bombay have scraped his leg on the side wall somehow? Poor baby!

Katharine Swan said...

Aww, if you lived closer to me, I'd totally ride with you!

Your son AND your husband are going through a skateboarding phase? LOL

I haven't taken Panama out alone, except for those rides across the field last summer at the last place I boarded, and he could see, smell, and hear home for most of that. He'd probably be worried about the unfamiliar stuff, just like Bombay, but I'm hoping that I'll be able to take him along the familiar parts of the trail without much concern on his part. I may try taking him out alone for short distances at first, and gradually lengthen our rides. Although we do have plenty of people to ride with at our current barn, there are times when I'd like to ride and no one else is available, and I think it would be good for him to be able to handle a trail ride by ourselves.

I think you and Bombay did great, by the way. I think anytime you stay on the horse, that makes it a success!

JeniQ said...

Arabians are such an adventure! Some days smooth as silk - other days scared of their own skin

I too have no trail riding partner so I just do a lot of walking the parameter of hay fields!

Hope you find someone soon - calm company should help Bombay

fernvalley01 said...

I don't envy the area you have to ride in , I am pretty spoiled in that I have several quarter sections t wander around here. Though the country you are riding in looks lovely . Poor Bombay ! a ouchie AND a hot pink bandage ! Oh the shame of it . Glad he will be OK

Maery Rose said...

I can relate to the loose dog thing. There's a group of about 5 dachshunds that are always loose with two owners on our trails. There is one that will run right up barking and nipping at my horse's legs. They are lucky Luke believes they are beneath his attention.

I have learned to prefer riding alone. I like the peace and quiet and riding at whatever pace I want to. But it's taken me and my horse awhile to get to that point and the social aspect of a group would be nice to have as an option. Unfortunately, that hasn't happened for me either. I hope you find a good riding partner soon.

Lulu said...

I am so proud of you for taking Bombay out alone!! What an accomplishment!!

It seems odd though, that Bombay has such a difficult time keeping himself upright in the trailer. Does he paw and carry on while stopped? I can't help but wonder if he's dinking around while you are driving, and therefore caught off guard when you turn.....

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Wow! You did it! And all by yourself, too. That takes a whole boatload of bravery.
I can't stand it when people allow their dogs to run loose. And it riles me up when the same people, say, "Oh my dogs wouldn't be able to hurt a horse. They love horses and are just being curious" and they would be the first to complain when a horse kicks and injures or kills their dog, too.

Dogs are natural predators. They can't help but to want to chase other critters. Especially prey animals. And horses, although they are big, are still prey animals.

And horses have every right to defend themselves. A dog can cause damage to a horse's legs. Some people are just stupid.
Aren't there signs posted on those trails about leash laws?

I sure hope that Bombay heals easily. That wound looked nasty on his leg. The scar on his face will just give him a tough look and make all the girls swoon. lol!

But good for you. I'm proud of you for getting out there on your own. I'm still not brave enough to do that. But finding the right riding buddies is so important and can make or break your riding I found out this past weekend. grrr.


Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Lisa - Interestingly, dogs are allowed to be off leash on this trail, but only during certain times of the year when wildlife doesn't frequent the trails. I just find that not all dog owners are wise about deciding whether their dogs are ready to be off leash. I think the only time a dog is ready for that is when it obeys your every command, even in the excitement of a chase.