Sunday, November 25, 2012

Bombay's Play Date

Sunday morning Cut-N-Jump brought her mare Solis over to my place for a ride.  I locked my mares up in the stalls so that they wouldn't hassle the new girl on the block.  Bombay was on full alert, excited to meet our guests, while Solis was a perfect lady, very well behaved.

My mares did a bit of screaming and that didn't ruffle her feathers.  CNJ and I tacked up our horses and rode in the sand arena for a while.  She spotted my steering problem.  I've been neck-reining with the outside rein, which was pulling it tight and not allowing Bombay to go anywhere, because I had him in split reins with a snaffle bit.  I practiced just using the inside rein and bringing my inside leg back to move his butt over, and got much better turns out of him.  Once I moved him up to the jog, everything fell apart and I needed to keep practicing not using that outside rein.

I think a while back I started introducing him to neck reining for trail riding, but never graduated onto using one hand.  I remember my trainer telling me to start out with the split reins and just lay the outside rein loosely over his neck while pulling the inside rein around, but somewhere along the line I tightened the reins for split rein steering and never broke the habit of bringing the outside rein across his neck.  I wasn't even aware I was doing it.

I decided to see if Bombay would follow CNJ and Solis around our property outside of the arena through rocks and brush while the mares whinnied.  Here's a picture CNJ took with her mobile phone:

We wove our way around that acre of property, and then a man came out of his house and stood at the property line looking at us.  I said hello, and he yelled at us to stay off his property.  Huh?

I knew we were riding on my property, but wasn't exactly sure where the line was since there was no fence. I asked if he lived in the house with the back yard that bordered my back yard.  He got irritated and said, "No!  I live down there.  The man who lives in that house isn't home, and I'm watching his property."

I explained that I live in the house that comes with the parcel of property we are riding on, and I was hoping to meet the owner of that house to see if he could show me exactly where the property line should be, but I was sure we were not crossing that boundary.  He said he saw us heading toward his neighbor's yard, so that's why he came out.  We said we respect private property and don't trespass.  He complained that horseback riders have been coming down the arroyo, and he's sunk thousands of dollars into landscaping his section of it, and they ruined it.

I thought that perhaps because we closed off the path through our property to horseback riders, it was pushing them down toward his property.  I explained that we recently stopped letting people pass through on our land, because as landowners, we understand the various problems that all this traffic causes.  I was trying to convince him that just because I'm riding a horse on my own property doesn't make me the enemy.

He started yelling something about not understanding why we even have to ride out there, because we have 22 miles of bridle trails right across the street.  Sigh.  I wasn't about to get into an educational conversation about training herd-bound horses that won't leave their property and their buddies to ride out on those 22 miles of trails.  We just said, "We know," and assured him that we had no intentions to trespass.  This is part of the problem with not building on a portion of your land.  Because it is unused, your neighbors start feeling like it is their land, since it's a part of their view.  So, it looks like I may have to get a surveyor out to mark the property lines, and then build something to make the division clear.

I think CNJ and I were nice enough to him that he felt like a bit of an ass, so he did say thank you to us when he left.  Bombay was more keyed up after that angry man came around, and I no longer felt comfortable riding on my own property, so we decided to try to get him up the driveway.  He followed Solis most of the way, but then began turning repeatedly toward the whinnies.  I was waiting for him to relax before venturing out further.

We got across the street to the gate, Solis went through and Bombay balked.  He kept spinning to look back at the house.  I waited for him to relax, because I didn't want another rearing incident.  CNJ encouraged me to keep him pointed at the gate at least.  Each time he turned away, I kept his feet moving until he faced the gate, then I petted him and let him rest.  Solis was looking forward to the ride and getting impatient with Bombay's theatrics.

I found that if I squeezed him to go forward through the gate and he wasn't ready, he'd back up in big steps. Something clicked in him and I just knew when the right moment was to squeeze him forward and loosen the reins.  He went right through very nicely without jumping or trying to rub me off on the poles.  CNJ and I were celebrating.  I was patting and praising Bombay, and she was praising me.  From that point forward we had a nice ride out into the desert.  We were able to take turns in the lead, as well as ride side-by-side and chat.

We rode down into a ditch and came back up.  Bombay wanted to lope up the hill and I wanted him to walk.  I had the reins too tight in my effort to slow him down and he crow-hopped his way up.  I was looking over my shoulder at his butt going, "What the heck is he doing?"

Once we began approaching a busy street, we looped around to head back, and Bombay's demeanor changed drastically.  He was pushing forward as fast as he could with me holding him back.  I could feel him getting ready to bolt, so I tried riding him up a bank and turning him away from the house, but he said, "No way!  I'm going home now whether you are in the saddle or not."

He broke into a series of bucks, dislodged my boot from the stirrup and I lost my balance.  I began flopping down his side.  I was fighting to stay on, just chanting over and over in my head, "I am going to stay in this saddle.  I am not going to fall."

I looked at CNJ who was just sitting there calmly on Solis, who I think had a hoof cocked back in total relaxation while I'm being taken on a bronc ride.  She said, "Remember your one-rein stop" in a tone that was reminiscent of someone commenting on what a nice day it is.

Oh yeah!  I pulled his head around and he immediately stopped.  CNJ saved my butt big time, because another couple of bucks and I'm sure I would have been eating dirt.  I began assessing the situation.  My shoulder blade and the back of my neck hurt, and I did not want to have to do one-rein stops all the way home.  That was Bombay's first one-rein stop and it took him by surprise, but how many one-rein stops can I do before he figures out some strategy to avoid them?  My biggest fear is him bolting across the street when a car is coming.

I decided to dismount and lead him back, but he was buzzing and dancing beneath me and I didn't trust him to hold still long enough for me to dismount.  CNJ was nice enough to dismount her horse to hold Bombay for me so that I could dismount.  She walked leading her horse with me most of the way back and then remounted to ride in the rest.  We did stop while facing the direction of home to talk, which was a good exercise in patience for Bombay.  He kept pulling on the lead rope trying to push past me, and I kept backing him up.

At various times throughout the ride Bombay tried sniffing noses with Solis.  I didn't encourage it, because I sensed that he might try to nip at her.  I know my own mares would kick the bleep out him if he tried that with them.

Getting back home was a relief.  All of my bones were in the right number of pieces at least, and it was fun when Bombay and the angry neighbor weren't being jerks.  At least now I can say I rode him through one of those gates instead of leading him through.

I'm really impressed that CNJ could mount this big mare from the ground.  Hopefully, if I keep up my exercise routine I can lose enough weight and gain enough flexibility to not rely on a step.  I think that anyone who is serious about trail riding needs to be able to mount from the ground.  Just one more thing in my long list of things to work on.  I consider this day a big win in the name of progress with my horses.  Even the mares quieted down once we were gone a while, so this was good training for them too.


Christine said...

A big day indeed! I agree about mounting from the ground - it's safer when you're out and about to know that you can! :)

fernvalley01 said...

I can so see cnj casually saying that! LOL EXACTLY WHAT YOU NEEDED AND IN PERFECT TIME. Glad you had a nice out and it ended with no injuries,hope you ladies get another chance to ride together

Cindy Durham said...

Glad to hear that you made it through that unscathed, although I'm sure you will be a little stiff for a day or so.
Interestingly enough, I got the EXACT same lesson this weekend. My friend pointed out how I was pulling on his mouth, and how he was trying to run off with me, and the very big one rein stops.
Of course my ride was a lot less eventrul as I was in an arena the whole time.
Congratulations on your wonderful progress! I'm sure it feels fantastic! :)

Grey Horse Matters said...

Good for you and Bombay. Glad you got out for a ride and stayed on through his antics. It's a good idea to go with a friend and a relaxed stable horse. I'll be the more you and Bombay get out there the better he'll become.

Jamethiel Crabb said...

I'm so glad you and Bombay got out for a ride! I agree with you-I suck at mounting and I want to grow up to be an endurance rider! I do sit ups and push ups on my breaks and that is starting to make a difference.

Cut-N-Jump said...

I hadn't thought I said it so noncholantly... lol!

I don't so much use the one rein for stopping, but it puts them off balance a bit. Enough that they quit doing whatever it is they are doing because they sure don't want to fall down.

I had fun and we should definitely do it again. More and more good rides will mean less and less drama from Bombay as he figures out it can be more fun than sitting at home all the time.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Good for you! I'm glad you got out on the trails for a ride. And I'm glad you stayed on and rode it out, too. Bombay is looking great! And so are you :)


achieve1dream said...

Yay!! That's so awesome!! I'm glad you got to ride him on the trails finally and that CNJ was there to remind you about the one rein stop. It can be so hard to think in situations like that so it's always nice to have someone there to help out. :D Keep up the good work and he'll be an old pro in no time.