Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Rock Finds His Stride While Scrappy Finds Some Chicken Bones

My muscles recovered enough from the mountain climb that I decided to ride Rock on the trails this morning.  Bombay's nose injury is almost healed, but now he has a big bite mark where the saddle would sit, so I left him at home.  About 1/3rd of the way through the ride, Rock picked up speed and actually walked with a purpose with his head held high, or at least as high as a Quarter Horse gets.  This happened after I slapped him with the saddle strings for snatching a tree branch in his mouth and refusing to let go.  Then when he did let go, the branch swung back and stabbed me in the leg.  Nice.

P.S. rode Gabbrielle.  We've been troubleshooting Gabbrielle's steering, because she started this behavior in which she throws her head around and refuses to go in the direction her rider is asking.  So, yesterday we experimented with doing ground work over poles and jumps, and then P.S. rode her through and over them.  The idea was to give the horse a goal, and to also give her opportunities to refuse, so that we could work her through it.  Happily, her trail ride was much better today with only one refusal at the gate to the trail head.  I get nervous when she refuses there, because she looks like she's thinking about turning around, running across the street and back to the barn, so if she gets too riled up, I push my horse through the gate first and then she follows.  I guess she thinks if she goes through the gate first, either the Boogie Man will be on the other side and he'll get her, or my horse will ditch her.  But beyond that, she turned everywhere we asked her to turn.

Even though it's a pain when horses regress in their training or develop negative behaviors, I have to admit that finding solutions can be fun.  It forces you to mix things up and try something new.  It's always a learning experience.  And just when you start thinking you've been outsmarted by a horse, you have a breakthrough and it all becomes worth it.

I need to keep a list of my training goals and check it before I go to the barn each morning.  I have a tendency to just saddle up and go for a ride, and then halfway through the ride I remember other things I meant to do.  For instance, I still need to get another horn bag for Rock's saddle, so that I don't have to untie the one I have from Bombay's saddle.  Then I can carry a water bottle and camera.  In the meantime, picture the same photos I've taken on Bombay, only with a brown horse with a black mane.

I don't know if Rock has been ridden in a horn bag, so I'll have to desensitize him to it, which basically means lunging him in the saddle with the bag full and water bottle sloshing around at all paces, so he can get used to the sound and feel of it.  I once was leading Lostine in a saddle with a horn bag when a truck drove behind her and the driver spooked her by letting off its air brakes.  She jumped forward, heard the rattle of stuff in the horn bag, and took off running in circles around me crow-hopping.  I was glad that didn't happen when I was in the saddle.

The other big goal I have is to first lead the horses across the main roads, then ride them across.  They cross the paved road in front of my house, but it has no white and yellow painted lines and very little traffic.  The main roads have a pretty consistent flow of vehicles, are much wider, the asphalt is darker, and they have painted lines, which can mess with a horse's depth perception.

I remembered halfway through the trail ride that I wanted to get off and lead Rock across one of those roads, but I was so hot and tired by then that I didn't want to have to dismount.  I don't know if I'd be able to find a ditch to put my horse in while I mount from the bank once I get to the other side.  I've never had the energy to go that far on anything other than the mountain bike.  Anyway, I thought I should try anyway since P.S. wasn't under any time pressures.  As soon as I started heading over to a gate to cross the street, a construction worker started up a jackhammer.

Awesome.  Great timing.  So, I abandoned that plan since he was hammering right near where I had planned to cross.

When we got home I walked into the house to find a muffin container sitting by the door.  I was thinking, "No way!  That dog cannot jump that high.  That muffin was up on top of the microwave oven, which is on the kitchen counter top."  Then I remembered it was a raisin bran muffin and really began to worry, because I had just cleaned the carpet the day before.  I know what bran does to a horse and I don't want to know what it does to a dog.

It turned out that the muffin container came from a very tall trash can with a lid, which Scrappy managed to knock over and drag every piece of garbage throughout the house while we were gone.  I'm pretty sure there were chicken bones in there before, but they are gone now, and Scrappy's stomach is making very loud gurgling noises.  I'm in trouble.  I sense a lot more carpet cleaning on my horizon.

I miss my trash compactor at my old house.  I'm contemplating buying a portable one for the kitchen at the new house.  If this had been an issue back when we had to rebuild our kitchen, I would have tried to work an in-cabinet trash compactor into the new design, but trash can raiding is a very recent hobby that Scrappy has taken up.  Maybe I can figure out a way to bear-proof our cans since this little Chiweenie obviously has the agility, strength, intelligence, and sense of smell that a bear has.  Now all he needs is the stomach that a bear has, and he'll be set for life.

1 comment:

fernvalley01 said...

Sounds like a nice ride, yikes on Scrappy being the garbage gut! hope the carpets survive