Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Trail Ride Alone Minus The Dismount

Another beautiful day in the neighborhood...  Trust me, it's coming your way.  I just get the good weather first.

Lostine ran from the halter for the first time since I trained her not to run from the halter, so we had a refresher course.  She decided she liked being petted more than the alternative.

This time I halted her at the end of the driveway and looked both ways before crossing the street.  I told my trainer about the previous incident with the day care van and she had a grand old time making fun of me for not remembering what I was taught in kindergarten.  Then she told me a story of how she was trying to train a spooky mare to cross a busy highway when there was a break in traffic, and they got halfway across and the mare spooked at the double yellow line.  She wouldn't cross it.  So, the lights in both directions turned green and she had traffic tied up for about two minutes while she urged the horse over the painted lines to the other side of the street.  I think just about anyone else would have dismounted and led the horse in whichever direction it would go just to prevent an accident, but this trainer wasn't going to give up her goal of getting that mare over her fear even under those circumstances.

Anyway, Lostine and I made it across the street without incident, but she pitched her ears forward and halted when we came up a rise on the entrance trail.  I looked where she was pointing and saw some large animal running around erratically on the trail up ahead.  It looked like it was too big to be a coyote and it wasn't behaving like a coyote.  My guess is it was a loose dog because it was running in circles with its head down like it was sniffing the ground and following a scent.  I looked around for a hiker or horseback rider who the dog belonged to, but didn't see anyone.  After the close call I had with two loose dogs a few weeks ago, I didn't want to approach it.  I didn't even want it to see us, so I held Lostine still until it disappeared and was out of sight for a couple of minutes.

Unfortunately, that was the trail I was planning on taking, so I had to change my plans.  We rode various trails for over an hour without any further incidents.  Well, okay, she had one refusal at a sign on the side of the trail and walked backwards for about 10 yards while I was urging her forward.  I turned her in a zigzag pattern and was able to get her past the sign.  Just for that, I took her on a trail that I knew was loaded with signs, both upright and downed.


She struggled on rocky trails and going down and up small dips, so I had to improvise and switch trails any time I saw an incline or rocks ahead.  When she spotted the house, she forgot about me, so I had to see-saw the reins to remind her that I control the speed, and she instantly slowed down and flicked an ear back to show me she was listening.  So, this was my first trail ride alone on one of my horses without me having to dismount and lead the horse back.  I've ridden without having to dismount before and I've ridden alone before, but never with those two factors working together since moving to the desert.

With each new step forward in our progress I feel a little more confident and free.

17 comments:

TeresaA said...

sounds good. When I began to hack Irish again he would barge all the way home. I didn't want to get into hanging on his mouth. So I started counting 1-2-3 half halt-release-1-2-3-half halt-release.

it took about 4 hacks but he started to respond to the hh. now we just need reminders.

Judi said...

Hurray! Sounds like a terrific ride.

Marissa Rose said...

wow! thats so good! I bet it was fun and felt good!

With pony when she starts to try and run home I turn her around and trot away from wherever shes trying to go. Usually its uphill. we do that over and over anytime she picks up a step of trot, when shes been cooped up all winter it'll take her a good hour or so of trotting uphill for her to decide she has her head in place, but usually it'll only take a time or two lol.

Glad you and lostine are making progress!

Cindy D. said...

I have to say Nuz, that it has been very cool watching you go through this journey of regaining your confidence. Well done!

Ian Holland said...

I've had a few dogs take a run at my horses. What works well for me is to turn the horse towards the dog and put her in a fast trot. It spooks the dogs and after about twice, they don't mess with the horse again. Most of my neighbour's dogs have been trained this way.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Ian - That's good advice once I have control over my horse, but right now I'm just trying to get my horses to trust and listen to me. This particular horse would just assume run backwards rather than trot toward a dog. I only have steering and speed control when my horses are not scared. Once I know my horses will trot at a barking dog, I'll try it.

appydoesdressage said...

I am so happy you are making such great progress with your horses and you are finally enjoying them. Congrats!

Katharine Swan said...

Just as a follow-up to Ian's suggestion, my brother-in-law used to do that with his horse when he'd be spooked by deer -- chase the deer -- but the end result was that the horse started wanting to run after deer with or without the rider's permission. So while it's a good idea to teach her to help you run the dogs off, you have to make sure she will only do it when you tell her to.

The other thing that would give me pause is that if you ever confronted a truly aggressive dog like that, you and Lostine could get yourselves into trouble by making it feel more threatened...

Paint Girl said...

Awesome!! Love hearing the progress! I am sure it feels fantastic being able to just go out on a trail ride by yourself and knowing you can tackle any training issue that comes up!

Once Upon an Equine said...

Isn't it a big confidence builder to ride alone? You did great! Riding alone is not my preference, for safety reasons. But I do it often, because the alternative is to...not ride at all. It is difficult to find compatible riding partners on a similar schedule. So I ride alone too. I pick a safe and familiar trail, carry my cell in my pocket, and let my husband know where I'm going and when to expect be back. Misty and I have had a few thrills with spooky things, but we have overcome them. And isn't it nice to have quiet alone-time with your horse? I will be looking forward to your nice weather coming this way!

Shai said...

I love reading your blog. I don't own a horse, have never owned a horse and probably won't own a horse but I get to live through you.

Thank you. You have well thought out posts, and the photos are great. It's a treat to read.

Thank you.

Dreaming said...

Yay, you! What a wonderful feeling that must have been.
Guess what? We made it into 'your' state today! We'll be in Casa Grande for amfew weeks. Wanna have lunch some day?

fernvalley01 said...

yay

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Dreaming - Lunch sounds good.

Crystal said...

Wow this is so exciting! Glad to hear you had a good ride out and back without any major issues.

Cheryl Ann said...

Yeah! I'm enjoying your series about your lessons and rides. I'll be doing that as soon as the weather warms up in the mountains! :-)

achieve1dream said...

Yay!! That's awesome! Congrats on the good ride. :D