Wednesday, October 2, 2013

My First Trail Ride on Rock

But first, here's a blurry picture I caught of a hawk the other day when two of them were working together to try to catch rabbits in our back yard:

 Awesome bird.

The side pull bridle and the low port Myler snaffle bit I ordered to offer relief on Rock's tongue arrived this week and I finally woke up this morning headache and nausea free, so I got a chance to test them out.  I started with the side pull bitless bridle, figuring I would move to the bit if he gave me any trouble.  I rode him in the arena for a while.  I still had to pull hard to bring his head around, but I felt better knowing that I wasn't pulling on his mouth while doing so, and he did seem a little more responsive in the side pull.

I moved him up to the trot and he did exactly what I expected.  He sped up and tried to run into the barn, so I had to pull him around in the opposite direction with all my might.  Once he figured out that he couldn't get away with that, he started trotting around the perimeter of the arena like I asked.  I had to work on keeping him at the trot, but after a bit of urging, he figured out that I didn't want him to break gait without a cue and he kept going until I halted him.  He stops when you sit back and exhale, which is a really nice perk.

P.S. rode Gabbrielle in the arena with me, and Rock was definitely distracted, so we worked on getting him to pay more attention to me than to his girlfriend.

Rock did get a little pissy with me by swishing his tail when I asked him to speed up, but I wouldn't let that get him out of it, lest I want to teach the horse to get out of work by being grumpy.  When he improved his attitude, I let him relax and drink from the water trough.  I didn't see any reason to move him into the bit, so I asked P.S. if she wanted to go for a quick trail ride to see how Rock would do.  She did, but when I opened the gate, Gabbrielle got naughty and began going where she wanted, ignoring her rider's cues.  P.S. wanted to do some corrective work with her, so I shut the gate and rode around the property on Rock while she worked out Gabbrielle's issues in the arena.  I knew that by me riding Rock up and down the driveway, Gabbrielle would get anxious, but she needed to work on focusing on her human when her boyfriend is being taken away.  We already know that she's perfect when she's not worried.

When Gabbrielle's focus improved, we rode out to the trails.  It turned out to be a good thing that our trail ride was delayed, because had we left on the first attempt, we would have been crossing the street right when the trash truck was coming up the road.  Getting up the driveway and the trail head was a slight struggle as the two horses tried to work out their worries regarding positioning.  I think Gabbrielle was concerned that Rock might try to bite her on the butt, so I put Rock in the lead, and Gabbrielle hung way back.  She didn't want to be anywhere near him.  So fickle, these mares.

Rock lived up to his name and was solid as a rock out on the trails.  Not a single spook.  He didn't try to turn and run for home.  He just followed the trails, and I only needed to turn him when I wanted to switch trails.  I realized that all this fussing I've been doing in the round pen and arena over his steering probably wasn't anything to worry about, because he is good about following existing paths and turning every now and then.  He just doesn't have any experience as an arena horse.  I mainly want to make sure I can pull his head around and circle him if he gets away from me or launches into a bucking fit some day.

I don't want to jump to conclusions after just one trail ride, but I'm tempted to deem him a husband-safe horse.

I'm so proud of him.  I love his butt too.

Tomorrow is P.S.'s birthday, so I gave her some polo wraps and cleaned up the manure before she came.  I told her part of her present is to have a poop-free day.  And I hope all of you have a poop-free day too.


Roger said...

Husband safe - Woohoo!

fernvalley01 said...

good boy Rock!

Mary said...

I am so happy that Rock seems to be becoming the horse you had hoped. He really is a fine looking horse! With a nice butt to boot. Hopefully his steering will improve with time, at least you're not hurting his tongue anymore. Wonderful photo of the Hawk, they are so cool to watch. I was having a poop free day until the neighbors' dog made a break for it and crapped in my yard, oh well. :) Fred was beside himself.

Grey Horse Matters said...

Rock does sound like a rock solid trail horse. The arena work with his steering will only improve him on the trails. Sounds like a fun day.

Snipe said...

You're sounding pretty happy these days. That's good to hear.

I agree on the sidepull. If it works for him, there's no need for anything else.