Tuesday, May 7, 2013

We Rode Until We Got Lost

The weather was so perfect today that I was itching for a trail ride.  I knew that Parelli Student was on her way and I had hoped to ride with her, but the wind was starting to pick up and the last time I had checked the weather forecast, it had said a rainstorm was on the way.  Wind usually precedes the rain.  When I got Lostine saddled up, I contemplated just heading out by myself and leaving a note that I had to beat the storm.  P.S. and I weren't planning a trail ride.  This was just her day to come play with the horses.  Fortunately, she drove up right when I was doing a little groundwork, still in that cinch tightening stage, so I told her to catch Bombay and saddle him up before the wind gets much worse.

On our previous trail ride, she rode Lostine and I rode Bombay.  P.S. is very in tune with my horses' personalities, and she recognized pretty quick that though Lostine in some ways is the slowest, safest, most confident trail horse, she's also pig-headed and wants everything her way.  Lostine is a tough nut to crack.  It took me years to build any relationship at all with her.  For the longest time, she wouldn't even acknowledge that Bombay and I existed.  She just wanted to get back to the mares at the farm across the road where I bought her.  Then for years when I rode her, she voiced her disapproval by getting in a few light bucks here and there, but never hurting me.  I think the only reason why she lets me ride her now is because she's lazy and doesn't want me making her work harder as punishment for not cooperating.

So, not surprisingly, P.S. prefers to ride Bombay with his hyperactive behaviors, his jigging and his spooking.  Being younger than me, I suspect P.S. kind of enjoys it when he trots up and down hills and heading for home.  But I let her know not to let him do those things because I'm trying to train those behaviors out of him.  I said that after she has a few trail rides under her belt, she can trot him out away from the barn all she wants.  He started a new behavior with her in which he would just randomly stop and start grazing, so I told her to keep his head up.  She was trained to ride on a very loose rein, and Bombay immediately figured out how to take advantage of that.  I warned her that she could get into a big wreck if he slips a leg through those continuous reins and then lifts his head up.  It's okay to let a horse graze if you decide it is time to graze and if you keep enough contact with his mouth that he can't get a leg through.

We took a different trail than usual all the way to the street, and then parked the horses there to watch traffic go by.  We saw some drivers picking their noses.  Others did a double-take at us on our horses.  I gave P.S. a choice of going east and taking the wide trails back home that Bombay usually tries to run home on, going west and having to navigate rocky, narrow trails up and down ditches between a lot of cacti, or just going back the way we came.  She told me to choose.  I chose the rocky, narrow trails up and down ditches between a lot of cacti.

I guess I was pushing my luck.  The ride had been so great on the way out.  Lostine approached the first hill and did her little refusal of crab-walking off to the side as if to say, "Uh, I'm passing on this one."

I encouraged her through it.  She was very cautious, picking her way slowly through the rocks.  P.S. didn't want Bombay right on Lostine's butt, so she waited until we were up the other side before proceeding downhill.  I told her to lean back and give him his head, and of course, Bombay trotted down the hill.  I said, "Okay, I guess you shouldn't give him his head then."

At one point a dirt devil blew past us and rattled the brush and trees, but the horses handled it well.  Bombay attracts those things.  He's been caught in more tiny tornadoes than I can count.  Beyond that, the wind didn't get any worse and there's no sign of rain.  I checked the weather forecast when we got back, and it said 0% precipitation.

We rode a long ways on an unfamiliar trail and when we finally reached a spot I recognized, I realized that I had somehow gotten us on the far side of the arroyo.  I guess I went through one too many ditches.  For us to take what I call the "junction trial" toward home, I would have had to ride Lostine straight up the side of a cliff.  With her arthritis and pedal osteitis, I didn't want to put her through that pain, so we kept on riding, looking for another route across the arroyo.

The second crossing was pretty steep too, so we kept going.  The third crossing was also steep, but better than the other two, and I knew it was the best we were going to get because further up ahead was nothing but thick brush.  I decided to try to ride Lostine up the other side, and if she struggled too much, I would dismount and lead her.  She made it up like a trooper, though.  I was already feeling bad enough because I had promised her after our last trail ride that I would put trail boots on her feet, but I forgot.  Then I took her on all these rocky trails and steep hills.  But at least both she and I now know that she can do it.


Paint Girl said...

I am so happy you are getting out and riding! Plus having someone riding one of your horses with you. It makes me smile!!
Last Saturday I took Chance on a trail ride with a friend and we ran into everything you could possibly imagine! K-9 Search and Rescue teams (practice), bicycles and a coyote!! It was crazy, but a great experience for her. I'm going again tomorrow! Hopefully we won't run into a bear this time... knock on wood.

achieve1dream said...

Yay Lostine!! I'm glad you have such fun, challenging trails to explore. :)