Thursday, September 12, 2013

Trail Test

I rode Bombay out onto the trails by ourselves this morning to see how he would do after not being trail ridden regularly or without another horse all summer.  I misplaced my trail camera, so I didn't get any pictures.  Sorry.  But, you know what he looks like from between the ears by now.

He held still for the mount and though the mares did whinny nervously when I took him to the trailer to tack him up, they stayed mostly quiet while I rode him up the driveway and off the property.  I think I heard one whinny, and that was it.  So, that means I won't be dealing with any major herd-bound issues this riding season.

I think we got about 1/6th of the way out when Bombay leaped forward and sideways, tweaking my back and neck, and then took off running.  I stopped him and he was breathing heavily looking all around.  I didn't see anything that should have spooked him, and then I remembered that in the instant before he spooked, I burped.  Just a little burp, but I suspect it had the same effect on him as when I inhale quickly while riding Lostine.  Sometimes it's hard to carry on a conversation while riding Lostine, because if I have to gather my breath to yell out something to someone way ahead of or behind us, she spooks, thinking that I am inhaling in reaction to seeing something scary.

Anyway, what made me happy about this spook was that my body did not have any fear reaction.  It didn't release any adrenaline, my heart didn't skip a beat, and my heart rate didn't go up.  Considering how unexpected and how large the spook was, I should have had some reaction, but was glad that I didn't.  It only took me 20 years of riding horses to desensitize myself to such things.  Though my upper body got jerked and hurt in the incident, I kept a strong seat.  My right arm is numb now, so I know my spine took a blow.  I'll have to be more aggressive in my exercise routine on strengthening my abs.

Bombay began limping and stumbling after that spook.  Just when I was about to get off him and lead him home, he regained his healthy walk.  He rode fine until we turned onto the spooky trail.  This trail is rocky and narrow, surrounded by bushes, it goes downhill into an arroyo, and then up a fairly steep hill.  Bombay usually picks up his speed because he knows he's headed toward home, and then trips repeatedly over rocks because he's raising his head up like a giraffe trying to see his mares instead of watching where he steps.  Then he convinces himself that some animal is going to jump out at him from behind a bush, and he tries spooking and running.

With my arm being numb, I didn't want to wrestle with that, so I turned him back the way we came.  He was confused and kept trying to cut across the desert to the other trail.  I kept pushing him back onto the trail.  He knew it was a losing battle so he dropped his head and just followed the path like he should.

Everything outside seemed to be getting brighter and I was hearing a ringing in my ears.  I realized I was disoriented and couldn't remember if we had already passed the path toward home.  Then I knew I needed water.  I halted Bombay, but couldn't get the water bottle out of its bag.  Bombay decided to itch his armpit right then, for about a minute, and I couldn't get to the water bottle.  I poked him in the nose with my foot and said, "That enough!   I'm thirsty!"

I yanked the bottle out, got my drink, but couldn't get the cap back on.  Bombay started to walk off without a cue and I chastised him.  He stopped and let me get the cap on and the bottle back into the bag.  I felt better after hydrating and was glad we were headed for home, because it had gotten hot in a hurry.  I wanted to make sure that Bombay got some water too.  He hasn't mastered the feat of drinking from a bottle.

Just yesterday my horse trainer was teasing me, saying, "Is it cool enough for you to ride yet?"  I said no.  Boy, was I right.  Different people have different tolerances to heat and cold, and I seem to do better with ice.

Upon reaching the intersection of the last trail before we had to go through the gate to home, he stopped and looked both ways.  He tried turning right, and I steered him straight.  He tried backing up, and I pushed him forward.  I said, "I can't believe you don't want to go home.  I'm dying out here and I'm not even the one doing all the walking."

He did take the route I pointed him too, but not without making it clear that he wasn't ready to go home yet.  I dreamed of this day when my horses would prefer to be off the property out on the trails, I just didn't expect it to be so dang hot.


fernvalley01 said...

Good boy (mostly!) glad you clued in and got your water ! Scary that kind of heat!

Paint Girl said...

What a great moment! Brandy does that when trail riding, on the last stretch home she walks so darn slow!! I have to continuously urge her forward just to get back to the trail head. I always thought that was odd because she is such a spook and sometimes I felt like she never enjoyed trail riding, in the beginning anyways.
Sounds like an enjoyable ride, besides the spook and heat!