Saturday, March 15, 2014

Three for the Road

We had three riders available this morning to take our horses for a trail ride.  P.S. rode Gabbrielle, as always.  My husband rode Rock.  The trainer has ridden Rock twice now and feels that he doesn't have many issues beyond being slow to move out, hard to stop on the way home, and he eats excessively on the trail -- all stuff we're aware of and have been working on.  Rock didn't spin and dump him, so we are concluding that the change in bridle did fix the problem.  He was getting poked in the eye by the buckle of his old side pull.  Thanks again, Christine, for the bitless bridle.  I still owe you and your horses (and doggies too, if you want) a photo shoot.

I was going to ride Bombay, but thought better of it.  His nervousness influences the other horses and he gets them spooking.  With this being my husband's first time out on the trails since his accident, I wanted to concentrate on him and not be dealing with Bombay's fears.  Also, P.S. was under time constraints and I didn't want to ruin her ride by having to be constantly training Bombay.

I rode Lostine, figuring it would be good to leave Bombay behind.  Maybe he'll learn that it's more fun going out with the other horses than being left alone at home.  I heard him calling out to us a few times.  I hope he wasn't too obnoxious because my neighbor had his farrier over, and I worried that Bombay was running around and getting the neighbor's horses riled up.

The first trail we turned up had hikers and dogs on leashes.  We made the decision to work the horses past them.  The hikers walked off the trail behind some bushes to let us pass, and Gabbrielle balked up at the front of the line.  P.S. got her moving, but then Rock suddenly noticed movement in the bushes and he balked.  Fortunately, Lostine has a lot of experience passing hikers on the trails in the Sierra Nevada, as well as seeing hikers behind bushes, so I pushed her ahead, and she was fine, but the other two horses were still nervous.  Gabbrielle was trying to put Rock and Lostine between her and the hikers.  I think this was only her second time passing hikers, so we have to praise her for at least doing it, however hesitantly.

I was glad to not be riding Bombay, because he would have made a big deal about it and convinced the other two horses that it was time to run for home.  I know that I've got to have more confidence in Bombay and ride him like I ride Lostine, but we have a history together that is hard to forget.  The next challenge was getting down into a little ditch with a log off to the side.  Gabbrielle balked at that, but got past it after a couple of tries.  However, I suddenly remembered that Lostine's old knees can't handle inclines anymore, so I asked the others to stay on the flat trails.

We also ran into a pile of trash that always gives Gabbrielle fits.  I tried standing Lostine right next to it to show her there was nothing to fear, but it didn't make a difference.  P.S. worked her magic circling Gabbrielle and tried to push her past the garbage.  I think once Gabbrielle realized that P.S. wasn't going to give up, she just gave it the stink eye and continued on.

At one point Gabbrielle snatched a branch up into her mouth and got it stuck on her bit, so I reached over and pulled it out.  Yucky.  I got horse spit and half chewed food all over my hand and on my jeans.

When we got to the street, we all piled up in a single file line and P.S. announced that a car was coming.  The driver didn't slow down much, and fortunately all three horses just held their ground and let it pass.  I was like, "Damn!  That was nice.  I wish I got a picture of that."

I think all those years of Gabbrielle and Lostine eating in a pasture by a busy road helped.  I already knew that Rock could handle traffic.  But it was also sweet that all three stood there just a few yards away from home and didn't try to rush out into the road.  It probably helped that they had just finished breakfast and were not anxious for their next meal.  I try not to feed them right after a ride anyway.

We're going to try again tomorrow, but this time get our horses ready faster so we can stay out longer.


Cindy D. said...

Yay!!! Good job. I'm glad you guys finally got to have a relaxing ride.

I'm going to share something with you that worked amazingly well with Trax when he decides he is afraid of something.

I take him away from the object and work him. Mentally taxing stuff, like side passing, backing, moving shoulders, moving hips. If we are in the desert I will trot him in and around trees and all kinds of stuff. Then I ride him to the scary object to rest. We rest for a bit then go away and work again. By the time the second rest comes, he is so happy to be standing next to scary object, he will actually try to stand on it.

I realize that when you are with others, time can be limited. But any chance you can use turn the scary object into a resting point, try to use it. It works great.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Cindy - That's exactly what I was recommending to P.S. this morning after she worked Gabbrielle past the trash pile. I felt bad for her because Gabbrielle was spinning and backing so fast in her nervousness, being close to the trash, and I realized we should have taken her to a more comfortable spot and work her there, especially since backing up and sidepassing are what the horses do on their own when they are afraid of an object anyway. Then when she gets back to the trash pile, sit and rest.

lytha said...

I saw a Clinton Anderston video on youtube of him doing exactly what Cindy does, trotting around trees and such, and I kind of wish I could try it but there is usually nowhere safe to try it. If I were to try circling the pine trees even at a walk, I'd get stabbed in the eyes - they're pretty thick. If there is a thinner spot, there are holes in the ground and stumps to trip over. I ran into Arndis' owner at the grocery store yesterday and asked her "WHERE IS ARNDIS!?" and she said she's in the clinic, because while trail riding she got stabbed by a branch and it somehow went deep into her inner hind leg, and got infected, so she's not sure Arndis will make it. Arndis is the fluffy red Icelandic, Mara's girlfriend, and the best horse I know to help Mara on trails, but we haven't had the chance.

Sam said...

Oh yay! Progress! It looks like you all had fun. I've been traveling for work and am excited to get in the saddle today.

I'd still love to have some photos taken - what would be a good day for you? Before it gets too hot would be nice.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

lytha - I'm so sorry about Arndis. It's true that the environment that people ride in can limit the ways in which they train their horses. Last year, when we were training the horses on the desert trails for the first time, my trainer told me to stay on the widest ones so that I can circle and maneuver the horse should he or she decide to take off or jig or have a bucking fit, but I actually found that they behaved better on the narrower trails because they were more concentrated on where to put their feet to avoid cactus.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Sam/Christine - My schedule is unpredictable, so it's best if you choose a couple of days that work for you, and I'll let you know which works best for me. Call or email me when you have time.

lytha said...

NM, I have the same experience, that single track is the best way to keep the horses focused on their footing and not wondering about possible dangers. But when something goes wrong, you've got no room to move. Sadly, there are very, very few single tracks in Germany - trails are usually roads.

I love how your trainers are helping you with your goals, out on the trails. You don't seem to mess around with what you don't want to invest in (doing fancy circles in the arena). My heart is not really into the dressage, but I'll do it for a bit if it helps our relationship.