Sunday, July 18, 2010

Lostine Meets Other Horses on the Trail

I've been dragging my feet about trail riding, because it gets so hot so fast. I'd have to hit the trails at sunrise for it to be cool enough to ride, but that would mean feeding the horses their breakfast at 3:30 AM, and I need to get my sleep. I stopped at the feed store for more fly spray and saw that two of my ads for trail riders were gone. I checked my email when I got home, but there were no messages, so I went out alone Sunday morning.

One of the problems with the more grassy hay I recently bought is that it takes a lot more of it to keep my horses fat, so they spend more time eating, which means less time riding for me. Also, I could see that Lostine lost enough weight from eating this mostly grass hay that I'm going to have to get a shorter cinch. Her current cinch now touches the D-ring on each side of the saddle.

As I was driving into the parking lot, my favorite trail rider was leaving with his black Tennessee Walking Horse in tow. He waved to me as he passed. I took his old parking spot. When I got out of the truck, I saw that he had pulled over and was approaching me to talk. He remembers my name now. He asked where I got my Tucker saddle and seemed disappointed that I got it over the Internet. I guess he was hoping for a local saddle shop where his horse could be fitted. I explained that provides templates to help you determine the right tree for you horse before ordering. He thanked me and went on his way. Maybe next time I see him, he'll have a new Tucker trail saddle.

Despite being around 90 degrees at 8:00 AM, Lostine and I ran into two joggers with loose dogs on the trail right off the bat. One of the joggers had a juvenile Labrador that wanted to play with Lostine really badly. It raced past her, turned to face her, and started jumping and bowing like puppies do when they want to play. Lostine just thought the dog was silly and she ignored it. The dog owner started cursing. I could see he was stressed, so I offered to pull over so he and the dog could pass us. He said, "This dog keeps getting kicked by horses and he never learns his lesson!"

Yikes. Perhaps keeping the dog on a leash until it's a little older and obeys commands might help. I owned a Labrador and I can attest to the fact that they are very high energy and difficult to train up until the age of about six, when they begin to settle down.

When we reached our shade tree with the bench, I noted that there was a very loud group of people hiking in the trees to our right with several loose dogs and adults carrying babies and kids on their shoulders. Lostine was being "looky" -- looking around for things to spook at, so I took her to the left up to the river. I got her to put her feet in it, but she still wouldn't cross. One of these days it's going to be hot enough that she'll want to roll in it.

We took the trail all the way to the end and stopped there to rest. I looked over and saw what appeared to be a bear den, so I non-nonchalantly turned Lostine around and encouraged her to move at a good clip back down the mountain a ways. I didn't smell anything that smelled like a bear, but didn't want to take any chances. We were deep enough in the mountains that we could have run into a bear, a mountain lion or deer, and I hadn't seen any other people for quite a while.

While headed along the foothill ridge, Lostine saw a group of horses up ahead and got so excited that she stumbled and fell on her knees. I was sitting there in the saddle at a 45 degree angle leaning back saying, "What was that all about?"

She looked around her, realized she was in the ground, and hopped back up onto all fours. I decided to take the trail towards the other horses to see how she would react. She tensed up and began pussyfooting her way toward them. As we got closer, I saw it was a woman with several very little girls on a variety of ponies and horses. I asked the woman if she was teaching a class.

Again, I got that fearful, paranoid look and an adamant "NO!"

Hmmmm. I guess I asked the wrong question. She either was in business, but didn't want to have to pay taxes, or she was afraid I was going to ask to join in on the lessons, or she was afraid I would be a know-it-all who would try to take over her class.

She eased up and said, "I'm just giving them tips on trail riding, like showing them how to go up and down hills."

I said, "It's good to know that someone takes the time to do that."

She relaxed then and asked me about my Old Macs. She didn't say anything positive or negative. She just asked if Lostine was barefoot in those Old Macs. Yup. No point in having both metal shoes and rubber shoes on at the same time. A lot of people put metal shoes on their horses, and carry rubber boots in their saddle bag in case the horse throws a metal shoe. I've never been able to convince my farrier that wearing rubber boots instead of metal shoes is a good thing, but he tolerates my preferences and actually trims my horses' hooves so that they will continue to fit into those boots.

I passed the trail riding class and was surprised to see them fall in behind us. Lostine kept zig-zagging slowly because she wanted to see who was behind her and make sure that no horse was going to bite her on the butt. The little girls were squealing, and Lostine handled those noises pretty well. As the instructor was telling the kids to lean back slightly, put their weight in the stirrups with heels down, I found myself automatically following her instructions. I didn't want the kids to think I had bad form.

They circled back and Lostine and I continued on our way until we ran into a couple more trail riders. We saw more horses on the trail than ever! I pulled over for them, because I had a convenient turnout, and I noticed that something was hanging from one lady's bridle. I pointed it out to her. At first I thought it was a leather tie string holding the bit to the bridle, but it turned out to just be the chinstrap.

I felt bad, because I moved my leg as the two horses were passing me, and it made a squeaking noise on my saddle, and both horses spooked sideways. I think the rule for horses passing horses probably should be that the spookier horses pull over and watch while the other horses pass.

When I got Lostine back in the trailer, I realized that she was very quiet in there on the drive to the trail. She usually paws and kicks. Now she just pokes her nose out the window and enjoys the breeze. She also hasn't had any nervous squirts in the trailer in a long time either. It's so nice not to have to clean the trailer after every transport.

After getting home safe and sound, we took all three horses out to pasture to graze before the grass dies. It takes so much water in this heat to keep that pasture growing. After my incident on Friday in which I forgot about the hose filling up the water troughs twice, our sprinkler manifold broke and the sprinklers ran all night long. Now I'm afraid to use water because we accidentally wasted so much of it.


Leah Fry said...

What a good girl. It sounds like she's starting to enjoy your outings. I bet she starts crossing that water before too long.

And I so hear you about the heat. I totally overdid it yesterday, so today is an indoor day to recover. Be careful out there.

Katharine Swan said...

A few random responses...

We've been having a heat wave here this week -- it got into the triple digits in Denver yesterday, which it hasn't done since 2008, the news said -- so I've been dragging my feet on riding. I actually haven't ridden since Wednesday, which is about the longest I've gone without a ride so far this summer.

Your problems with the grass hay took me by surprise. I've kept Panama on straight grass hay as much as possible since I started boarding him in Denver. He does really well on it, whereas he tends to gain too much weight on alfalfa. I guess I've got myself an easy keeper -- something I'll need to watch out for when he gets older.

Glad to hear your trail ride was such a good one, and that Lostine is relaxing and enjoying your outings with her! I have to tell you, every time I read about your trail rides, I am very impressed with both of you!

Jeni said...

Wow what a great ride you had! The landscape is so pretty I'm envious.

allhorsestuff said... glad you went on out..though it did look HOT! Lostine did so well!! And was properly pooped out-litterally so- for the ride home! ha!
Loved hearing your voice on the video too.
I love my summer hot wooded trail rides much cooler for us to go to the shaded forests.Keeps me going..knowing I can get relief...after I tack up.
That creek you crossed looked sweet!

We have names for what Lostine did as she stopped..."Poopin'stoppin"..and when you can get them to continue on.."Poopin'walkin'".
Wa never stops, she can't be bothered to!
Dogs on trails..bother me. But this year...I am facing them off and charging them down , instead of stopping and waiting. I want the mare to know she is in charge... she and the bear mace I have in my hand!

Maybe those spooky horse owners will give way to others next time..good lesson for them!

Breathe said...

What a great ride - seems like its getting better and better. I'm impressed she did so well with other horses, my horse would have buddied up in an instant.

My horse always christin the trailer. I think of it as their form of a quick prayer to their guardian horse angels.

Paint Girl said...

Lostine looks like she is doing really well on the trails!! Your trails are so pretty, and love how beautiful it is there!

fernvalley01 said...

It does seem like Lostine is starting to finally relax and enjoy the outings you take her on.I know I am ! thanks for the video

Stephanie said...

I love your little videos :) makes me happy, thanks for sharing!

Lulu said...

Wow! Lostine is doing really great on the trails! I am so impressed at your motivation to go out there alone and get her use to the sights!!!

Andrea said...

What a good girl!! I loved the video, that sound of riding...I love it!! You are so lucky to have such nice trails to go ride on. I would have to drive about an hour or two to get to nice trails. What a fun afternoon!!

Once Upon an Equine said...

Lostine was sure a good girl with the way she handled all the meet-n-greets along the trail. Good job to both of you. Looks like a nice ride.

Callie said...

Lostine is an angel, what a good girl! I think it's great that you're getting out there, wish I could join you!

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Great video! I enjoyed hearing your voice and how relaxed you sound, too. Lostine looks as if she's relaxed, too.

You said, "I think the rule for horses passing horses probably should be that the spookier horses pull over and watch while the other horses pass."

I couldn't help but think back to your earlier trail rides that were full of spooks, bolts and spins.

Now look at you guys! Seasoned trail riders.

Good job!


lytha said...

i loved hearing your voice too! and seeing lostine's ears as she is constantly on alert for danger, danger!!! i loved the squeak of your saddle-- how i love the sound of leather.

as to watering, yesterday my goal was to see if i could tap into our underground cistern tank, a 2000 liter rain-runoff tank. well, i did it! but the stupid pump was too weak to power water uphill, so i had to water our hang, which is my paddock off our stall. i spent 2 hours pushing the hose around, nursing tiny bits of green grass to hopefully come back after all these 90 degree days. there are brown/dead spots where baasha pees, and i don't know if i can expect any grass to grow in a small paddock area after last winter with snow+horse.

i never ran out of water, i just felt bad for our electricity bill from running that stupid pump, so i quit.

thanks so much for sharing your ride with us!