Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A Major Milestone

This has been a long time coming, and after months of precautions and preparations, we were finally able to ride two horses across a busier road than the one in front of my house.  After how sore I was from walking after not being able to get back into the saddle after dismounting to cross a road on Monday, I was not going to get out of that saddle for anything.  Don't get me wrong.  I do like walking, but not if I walk so far that my muscles cramp up in my sleep for two nights afterwards.

P.S. rode Gabbrielle through the gate first, and Gabbrielle wanted to run right out into the road, which was what I was worried about.  We've trained the horses to stop and let us look both ways before setting a foot onto a road, but when they are excited because they are being taken into a new location, they forget much of what we teach them.  P.S. stopped her and then circled her back.  A line of cars was coming slowly through a school zone.  We let them pass, but the driver at the end stopped way back to let us cross in front of him.  Rock walked as slowly as possible, as if he was afraid that he might slip on the pavement.  I thought, "Oh well, I gave the driver a chance to pass us."

It never fails that when someone does something selfless and kind, they suffer negative consequences for it.  Hopefully, the driver wasn't in any hurry and just enjoyed the show.  Both horses did really well once out in a new part of the desert.  There weren't any major panic attacks beyond Gabbrielle spooking at multi-colored snakes on the trail...

Apparently, someone didn't want to take their old irrigation system to the dump.  P.S. had to walk Gabbrielle back and forth through the hoses until Gabbrielle relaxed.

"What's that?  I've never seen that before," she says as she comes around for a fourth approach.

P.S. continued with this process at each new pile of junk that Gabbrielle spooked at or ran from.  While heading away from the house, Rock was good about standing and waiting, but on the way back, I had to hold him back and circle him, because he was ready to blaze a trail home without her.

Here his forelock is all messed up and looking silly from throwing his head around in protest about waiting.  When he throws his head around, the two ropes over his nose on the sidepull bridle rub a bump into his nose.  I'm thinking of wrapping some wool around them.  On one hand, the point of the ropes is to get him to lighten up and move away from pressure, but I suspect pain has no effect on this horse.  It's more about communication with him, so I'd rather not have him keep pulling and rubbing those bumps into his nose.  It's still a heck of a lot better than cutting his tongue in half with a bit, though.

I don't think I need to worry about him running away with a rider, because he's fairly lazy.  I trotted him a couple of times to get caught up with Gabbrielle on the way out, and once he got within a few yards of her, he immediately shut down to a slow walk again.  But one thing I realized after we trotted was that all I had to do was squeeze with my legs and say "trot", and he immediately trotted.  I didn't have to lift the saddle strings and whack him with them.  That means we have worked out our communication.  He understands what I am asking now.  That's exciting.

Rock is a character.  He likes to bob his head up and down to make his lead rope swing back and forth.  The rope slaps him on the side of the neck, and for some reason he enjoys the stimulation.  However, several times he threw the lead rope over the reins and I had to untangle them.  Since he doesn't have a bit in his mouth, I might just lead him with the reins in the future and leave the lead rope at home or in a saddle bag.  Give a horse a rope and he'll hang himself with it.

We had fun exploring new trails.

We came pretty close to Silly Mountain and the freeway.

Maybe when the horses and I build up more stamina, we'll ride there someday.  I think they have some horseback riding trails around the mountain.  I'll have to check my trail guide to be sure.  I just remember that the hike was grueling.  It doesn't look like that big of a hill, but it's very steep and rocky in places.

The horses did fine crossing the street on the way home.  They walked past the elementary school while kids were out at recess.  I'm so proud of everyone.  Now our horizons have broadened.


redhorse said...

You all look great, and you have some wonderful places to explore.

TeresaA said...

congratulations! Rock sounds like a blast!

Cindy D. said...

Wonderful! I wouldn't worry about making that driver wait. In this state, Equestrians actually have the right of way anyways.

Cheryl Ann said...

Looks great! I won't be riding Lucille for a while since I now have a concussion and am VERY dizzy. I lose my balance and trip all the off work now for 7 days...oh, well.

Sam said...

Oh awesome! I can meet you and show you those trails. If you are really daring you can also ride (well, get off and walk) under the freeway bridge and ride in the desert south of 60. It's beautiful with miles of riding and no cars. Hopefully we can meet again. :)

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Sam - Definitely. I just mapped that area you described, and that is a lot of open space.

fernvalley01 said...

Rock sounds like a fun horse, well done on the crossing!