Thursday, April 11, 2013

Best Trail Ride Yet

The Parelli student has the week off to handle personal business, Tuesday's horse training session was canceled due to rain, and I hadn't worked with the horses in over a week thanks to being stuck in medical care hell.  I wasn't sure if the horse trainer would show up today, because I vaguely remembered her saying that she was leaving on vacation around the 10th.  When she did show up, I suggested we go for a trail ride together since I hadn't ridden in so long.  I've learned that I've got to grab these opportunities when I'm feeling well, when the weather is nice, and when I can fit it into my schedule.

I rode Lostine and she rode Bombay mainly because we were too lazy to change the stirrup lengths.  I have Lostine's saddle set up for me and Bombay and Gabbrielle's saddle set up for the trainer.  Lostine has started up two little tricks she used to do a long time ago, and they bit me on this as well as the last trail ride. I don't think I told this story, but the last time we rode, Lostine walked off while I was in the middle of mounting.

That's not so bad.  I'm pretty used to it.  I just reprimand the horse and finish swinging my leg over.  Or if I have the time, I dismount, and start over until she gets it right.  However, this time she let all the air out of her belly while walking off and I had to climb on fast before the saddle slid all the way down her side.  I told the trainer that I would have to dismount without using the stirrup and then tighten the cinch from the ground, but she said to stay on and rock the saddle straight while she tightened it for me.

Simple enough, right?  Well, she discovered that she needed two hands, so she asked me to hold her horse from the saddle.  She decided that the cinch was uneven, loosened one side and went around to loosen the other side as well.  I had to sit perfectly still while holding two horses, because my balance was the only thing keeping that saddle on Lostine's back.  If something popped out of the bushes right then and either horse jumped, I would have gone right over the edge.  Fortunately, the trainer got the cinch situated and tightened up and both horses stood still.

So, today I made sure that cinch could not go any tighter before mounting, but Lostine still walked off and still managed to let a little air out along the way.  Not anywhere near as bad as that last ride, but I'm going to be ready for her next time.  No more of that crap.

We rode as far west as we could before we hit a steep drop off into a deep arroyo, then turned left.  We rode all the way to the street, looking for a more gradual descent into the arroyo since Lostine's toe bones hurt her going downhill.  The trainer also didn't want to chip up their freshly trimmed hooves.  I told her we could put boots on Bombay next time, and then she can take him wherever she wants.

School was letting out and we had to ride near a string of school buses.  That didn't phase the horses.  Then a retired couple drove up and I warned the trainer that some hikers just drive up, open up their car door, and let five or six dogs out to run wild, so be prepared for the horses to be attacked by a pack of dogs.  The couple must have heard me because they stopped to put leashes on their three dogs.

We turned around and tried walking off trail along the arroyo to search for a place to cross, and we flushed a coyote up out of it.  He ran in front of us, and the trainer wanted to go back and warn the dog walkers about it, because they had very small dogs.  We let them know and ran into the coyote again.  It was on a hillside watching the dogs.  I hollered at it to, "Go on!" but it kept looking back and forth between me and the dogs. So, I started to charge at it, and managed to chase it off.  I looked back and realized the dog walker was trying to get a picture of it.  I think I ruined his picture.  Oops.

We found a place to cross the arroyo and Lostine did pretty well going down hill as long as we only went down short banks.  We rode in an area I've never ridden or hiked before that had a lot of more saguaros.  Then we rode along a busy street for a while and back to the house.  We were so busy yakking that neither us nor our horses even noticed when some idiot driver honked at us.  We finished our conversation, and all of the sudden I realized we'd been honked at.  It brought me great satisfaction to so thoroughly ignore the driver.  None of us looked at him and the horses didn't even flinch.  It was great.

At one point the trainer said, "How are you doing back there... you fat old lady?"

I said, "I beg your pardon," in the most offended voice I could muster.  That cracked us up.  Of course, she was referring to Lostine and not me, but I think fat old lady is actually quite a fitting label for me at the moment because I feel fat and I feel old.

She was making fun of me for being afraid to ride between two cacti when she first started working with me. I said, "Well, that was on Bombay back when he kept spinning and trying to run back to the barn.  I had no control over him.  Plus, I know you had to dig some cactus quills out of a horse recently..."

She said, "Yeah, that was scary.  I admit it."

The trainer and I played leapfrog, taking turns switching between leading and following so that neither horse will feel that it has to be in a specific position in line.  We also separated several times and took different trails, meeting up later.

The worst thing Lostine did was crow-hopping when a fly bit her, and Bombay got a little jiggy when we separated, so the trainer trotted him around bushes and made him stand and wait.  Otherwise, it was a really pleasant ride.

When we take the horses home, we try to do something a little different from each time before, so the trainer rode Bombay off to the southern end of the property away from the other horses and the barn to dismount.  I rode Lostine around the perimeter of the arena, and she offered up a refusal to go any further than the barn gate, so I had to fight her.  She finally gave in and walked away from the barn.  Then I dismounted.  Gabbrielle's training was to learn how to be by herself without having a heart attack.  She was thirsty when we got back, so I know she did a lot of running.


Crystal said...

Oh so glad you are getting some riding in, sounds like you and the horses are progressing so far.

Mikey said...

I'm so happy for you! This sounds like the kind of riding you've been wanting for so long! Out on the trails, chasing off coyotes... you go girl!! I love it!

Marissa Rose said...

Wow sounds great!!!!!

I don't know if this could help you or not, but I recently read in 7msn's blog about her end of trail ride exercise. They always say not to get off your horse at the gate, or at the barn, etc but she doesn't want to have to get off and walk a far way. So, instead, she goes straight past her gate and makes her horse back up 50 feet and then gets off. She said her horse literally sees the gate and slows down like 'dang I'm going to have to back up again'

Promise said...

What a huge change you're experiencing with your horses! I am so happy that you are able to enjoy them and take them out on the trails, with less worry for your safety and theirs. SO exciting!

Dreaming said...

Your ride sounds marvelous - how incredibly far you and the horses have come!

Sam said...

Oh fun! I'm going to have to join you one day. We get those dogs folks on our end of the desert too.


Cindy D. said...

This is a wonderful post. I remember you saying that your goal was to have horses that you could simply go out and trail ride with, without being nervous or scared or having to fight with them. Seems to me that you are achieving that goal. Congratulations.

achieve1dream said...

Most awesome post ever!!! I'm so glad you had such a great ride. :D

You know... until you mentioned that about tightening a saddle while on the horse and holding another horse I never thought about how dangerous that could be.... I used to do that all the time lol. After tightening the girth have you tried making her back up and then tightening it again? That worked for my mare. :) Horses don't really hold their breath while we do the girth (watch their side or nose and you'll see them breathing), they are actually tensing their muscles because when they relax their muscles it makes the girth looser. That's why backing can help. :)