Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Got the Shivers

P.S. came by mid-afternoon and had a hankering to go for a ride, even though it was raining.  I checked the weather map and no systems were moving in, but rain clouds just seemed to be forming directly over us.  I told her to go ahead and do what she wanted, and I'd come out in 15 minutes.  If the sky looked any better, I'd ride with her.  It was starting to clear up to the north, south and west, so I was going to halter Rock, but Bombay was standing at the gate practically sticking his nose in the halter.  I take volunteers, so he's the one I rode.

I hand walked him around while tightening his cinch a little at a time, and made sure that he was fine with walking on a wet paved road.  He didn't think anything of it, so I thought maybe I was being paranoid.  I considered telling P.S. to hand walk Gabbrielle on the wet asphalt too, but since Bombay didn't bat an eye at it, I figured Gabbrielle would be okay.

Boy, was I wrong.  She took one step into the road and ran backwards into Bombay's shoulder.  She was trying to spin and run back to the barn, so I was kind of trying to keep Bombay in her way, and she kept crashing into him.  She finally cut loose from us, and P.S. circled her a few times.  I advised her to dismount and lead Gabbrielle across the road.  If P.S. was going to fall or get dumped, I didn't want it to be on the pavement, and preferably not at all.  Of course, then it suddenly wasn't so scary to the horse.  It is ridiculous how a horse will follow the leader as long as the leader is on the ground, but as soon as we are on the horse's back, it's a whole different story.

During the ride, Gabbrielle was moving fast and Bombay was having trouble keeping up.  I could tell that he was feeling nervous about her getting so far away, and he tried to turn back to the barn several times.  What I like about Bombay is that even though he gets scared and nervous, he does listen to my directions now.  He doesn't completely lose his mind like he used to.

Gabbrielle had one big spook to the side when a hare burst out of bush by the trail and ran off.  Bombay was very nervous about passing that bush after witnessing what happened.  He eyeballed it closely and cut a wide wake around it.

We took a trail that had steep, but short hills.  Bombay looked at one and decided the only way he was going to haul my lard butt to the top of that thing was if he worked up some momentum.  I knew what he was going to do in the instant before he did it, and I grabbed the saddle horn.  I normally don't touch the saddle horn, but I didn't want to pull back on the reins if I lost my balance.  He took off and ran down and up the hill.  Once at the top, he slowed back down to a walk.  I normally discourage him from running on hills, but I think he knew it would be too difficult for him to scale the hill at a walk, so I let him do it.  However, if he's just going downhill and there isn't a steep upward climb on the other side, I make him walk.

On the way home, we crossed paths with a lady who was walking three big dogs on leashes.  Bombay's head popped up and I expected him to stop, but instead he seemed to be charging toward the dogs.  His ears were pinned forward and he was very excited.  I had no idea what his intentions were.  One time I had him chase a coyote away because it was stalking a little dog that some people had on a leash, and I wondered if he remembered that incident and was just doing what I previously encouraged him to do.

Next thing I knew Gabbrielle was passing us up and she was walking fast toward the dogs too.  The dogs weren't at all interested in the horses, but were pulling their human along like they were on a mission to get somewhere.  Both horses were on alert and nervous, but they blasted past the dogs and I realized that they just wanted to get home because it was probably close to feeding time.  I forgot to wear a watch, so I didn't really know what time it was.  Gabbrielle did cross the road on her way home.  She snorted and wasn't happy about it, but I think she knew that if she spun and ran away, there was nowhere to go but back out into the desert where those dogs were.  If she wanted to eat, she had to cross the wet street.

It turned out that we arrived back at the house right at the horses' dinner time.  Overall, I thought the horses contained their anxiousness to eat pretty well.  They didn't run, but just fast-walked home.  We probably could have turned them away and gone for another loop, but my thighs were shivering through my jeans.  It was getting cold in a hurry.  We're supposed to hit freezing at night pretty soon here.  It looks like I'll have to break out the horse blankets.

I didn't bring my camera, so here's a picture from our ride a few days ago when Bombay was more relaxed...


Sam said...

I always worry about them sliding on the road. The Friesians have hooves like skis and I've had one fall before on slick asphalt. I tend to just want to be safe on rainy days and walk them across.

Dreaming said...

Bombay looks gorgeous!

Brenda said...

I'm curious...why would the horses freak about wet pavement? Does it make a different sound than dry? Surely they can't feel the wetness. I've never heard of a horse doing that.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Brenda - She may have taken a step onto it, started to slip, and panicked, or since the asphalt changes to a much darker color when it is wet, she may have thought it was a river or a bottomless pit. Horses don't have great depth perception. Asphalt also smells strange when it is wet. Any new experience for a horse is usually a scary experience.

Brenda said...

Thank you. That actually makes sense about it possibly being a little slippy or thinking it was a River or something. When I was helping to train new mounted officers for the local police department we used a black tarp to simulate a body of water.

fernvalley01 said...

sounds like a challenging ride