Sunday, March 8, 2015

Long Time, No Ride

It's been 3 weeks since I've last ridden.  You know what that means...  Fresh, barn sour horses.  I started off the morning with the intention of making sure every horse got ridden today.  I decided to try an experiment by giving each horse a double dose of Calm & Cool, and see if they can offer us a calm ride in unfavorable conditions.

The neighborhood was quiet, but as soon as we caught a couple of horses to saddle up, the snowbirds two doors down came out and started their yearly ritual of getting that old, beat up pick up truck running again.  Because it is such an old truck, the engine is quite loud when they rev it.  I'm not a mechanic, so I can't understand why people have to rev their engines over and over and over as fast and loud as possible.  You'd think that would cause some damage or flood the engine.  Then the race car driver came out, probably attracted to the sound of an engine revving, and he started using his power tools.  The neighborhood went from "could've heard a bunny fart" to an industrial zone in a matter of minutes.  So, I couldn't wait to get out of there.

Mounting was a bit of an issue, as Rock has learned how to bloat and then release once his rider has mounted.  So, I had to tighten his cinch while my husband was in the saddle.  I think it tightened 4 or 5 more notches.  Scary.

Lostine was a bit of a pill refusing to hold still for the mount, and as soon as I did mount, she walked off.  She reminds me of the RTD bus drivers who used to take me to school some mornings.  Once both feet were on the bus, they took off, even with the door not closed yet, so you'd fall against stuff.  Then you'd have to get your change into the depository without spilling it onto the floor as the bus was moving.  Then you had to stagger down the aisle like a drunken sailor to find a seat.  As a kid, that was terrifying.  I worried that I might fall into some stranger's lap.  I much preferred to take the school buses, because those drivers actually cared about children.  They'd greet us and wait for us to take a seat before driving.

We actually made it across the street without one of my neighbors roaring past.  I think that's the first time in months that I haven't had to stop for them.  The ride was uneventful until my husband found some new wildflowers for me to photograph.  We rode off the trail to check them out, and then when I tried to get Lostine to return to the trail and head out away from home, she pulled her stunt of backing toward home.  You can't squeeze her forward, because the more you squeeze, the faster she runs backwards, so I have to crank her head from side to side, like I'm pumping her to prime her to go forward, and then I have to kick, kick, kick.  She gets mad, but it works.  I got our battle on camera...

I wasn't prepared for her antics, so the reins were too long.  She's got such a short, arched neck that I should gather the reins before trying to bend her.

We had minor issues with the horses rushing and Rock throwing his head around each time we turned on a trail the took us even remotely closer toward home.  My husband had to circle Rock.  Lostine was responsive enough to my voice and seat that she would slow down without the circles.  We did have a few short jolts forward.  In Rock's case, he kept tripping and then running it off.  In Lostine's case, she was on edge and jumpy.  One time she stopped to itch her side and when she saw Rock gaining on her, she ran forward.  Another time she thought she saw something in the bushes and ran forward.  Another time we passed some horseback riders and she got so excited that she ran forward.  The worst one was when I got some dust in my throat and couldn't breathe, so I spit.  The noise my throat made and the sudden movement of my body spooked her.  I honestly didn't see either horse behaving particularly calm despite the double dose of Calm & Cool.

We saw hikers, some with dogs, in addition to the horseback riders, but no one who shouldn't be out there in motorized vehicles, and we didn't have any pilots hassle us, so overall it was a decent ride.

Gabbrielle had thrown a bit of a screaming fit when she saw that I chose Lostine to be my mount, but I'm still regaining my strength after being ill, and I didn't want to deal with her nervousness and testing.  I just wanted to get familiar with the art of riding again.

Hopefully, I'll have enough time, energy and space to ride Bombay and Gabbrielle in the arena later today too.  I love it when it starts getting hot, because that's when all the neighbors go back inside to enjoy the shade, their ceiling fans and air conditioning.  Then I can have surprise-free rides.


Mrs Shoes said...

You wrote:
"The neighborhood went from "could've heard a bunny fart" to an industrial zone in a matter of minutes."

Makes me so thankful for our solitude here - 1/2 mile from the nearest neighbour (older, single farmer) and give or take 15 miles from the nearest town.

I used to have a horse who sucked up a belly full of air while he was being saddled; a guy suggested I kick him in the gut to make him release it. No thanks Jackhole.
Instead I would groom his body, saddle him & tighten the girth, then comb out his mane & tail and pick his feet, tightening a bit a couple of times during the process. He couldn't hold his breath that long & I'd finish snugging up just before mounting. It solved the problem for me in the short term & in the long term the clever horse figured out that holding in all that air in would not discourage me.
It took a little patience, but you've heard the saying 'approach it as if you have all day & nowhere else to be'? I've found that piece of advice invaluable to me in working with my horses over the years.

achieve1dream said...

When horses bloat up to avoid a tight girth they aren't really holding their breath. They are tensing all of their muscles which expands their chest. That's why it makes me angry when someone says to punish them. That just makes them more tense. The advice above is perfect because it gives the horse time to relax again. If you're short on time (i.e. trying to beat the heat) you can try backing the horse. When backing him up he had to use those muscles so then when he stops he relaxes them. It doesn't always work but it works with some. Standing still is more work and take time. I'm glad you were able to enjoy your ride for the most part.