Thursday, January 2, 2014

Test Drive After the Fireworks

I took Bombay out for a trail ride this afternoon to test out his frame of mind after several days and nights of banging and booming and explosions of color in the sky.  I figured either he'd be spooking at everything left and right, expecting something to explode, or he'd be so desensitized to it all and so tired from not being able to sleep that he'd just plod down the trail.

He started out a little bit sketchy and hesitant.  He nearly took out my knee on the gate post.  I tucked my leg underneath me, stirrup, fender and all, and just hoped that nothing would get speared and hung up on the post.  We made it through.  Bombay spooked a little bit seeing my leg fly up like that.

I picked out the tiny, lesser known trails in hopes of avoiding other human, horse, dog and bicycle traffic.  These trails are narrow and winding, and Bombay is really good about following them, unlike Rock, so I knew I wouldn't have to muscle him to stay on track.

I was just thinking what a good job he was doing when I looked up to see a cowboy come trotting head on toward us with a dog trailing behind.  He was closing in fast and there wasn't room for us to pass.  I knew Bombay hadn't seen him yet, so I said, "Look at that, Bombay."

Bombay understands, "Look at that," and he immediately popped his head up and slammed on the brakes.  I struggled to push him off the trail to let the rider pass, because Bombay was either petrified or mesmerized and didn't want to move.  The man continued trotting up to us and it appeared that he and his horse were in some kind of struggle.  I couldn't tell if the horse wanted to walk and he was trying to keep it at a trot or if the horse wanted to run and he was trying to slow it down, but Bombay sensed the tension too and began quivering beneath me.

The man said hello and asked how I was doing.  Then he asked how my ride was going.  I told him I was hoping my horse wouldn't try to chase him, because he gets excited when he sees new horses.  The man started to slow his horse and I thought he was going to walk as a courtesy, but then one of them kicked it into gear again and jolted past us into a faster pace.  The dog ran right up to Bombay's legs and I willed it to go away.

It was clear to anyone observing my horse that he was totally on edge and ready to explode.  The problem with most dog owners is that they only think in terms of their dog.  If their dog is nice and friendly and good around horses, they don't worry about anything.  But a scared horse doesn't know that the dog is nice and friendly and good around horses.  The horse could just stand there while the dog runs up to it, like Bombay fortunately did, or it could flee, or it could fight and injure the dog.  There are two animals with two free wills, and you have to take both of their mental states into consideration.

After sniffing Bombay, the dog trotted off to follow the man on the trotting horse.  Bombay's legs unlocked and he started jigging forward.  I tried to keep him in check and hoped he'd settle down once the horse and dog were out of earshot, but he just kept getting more wound up.  He was moving faster and faster, as if saying, "If that horse can trot on the trails, I can too."

My trainer and I spent six months training Bombay to walk on the trails, so this sudden uppity attitude of his was a bummer.  Each time I'd check him with the reins he'd posture to buck, so I circled him and when he stopped his feet, I tried to make him stand.  But he wouldn't stand for more than a couple of seconds.  We went through this rigmarole for a few cycles, and then I said, "Bleep it.  I'm fat and need my exercise anyway," and I dismounted and led him the rest of the way home.

Here he is with his mohawk trying to convince me there was something scary off to the side of the trail...

Some tough punk rocker he is.

1 comment:

achieve1dream said...

Aww that really sucks! I hate when other people show up and ruin a perfectly good ride.

The jigging, spinning and not wanting to stop freaks me out a little bit because I'm afraid I won't be able to get them to stop long enough to dismount or that I'll get hung up on something while dismounting and they'll take off on me.... one of the reasons I actually like riding bareback lol. So much easier to get off in a hurry. I'm weird I know!