Thursday, May 14, 2015

Windy Solo Trail Ride

I planned to ride Gabbrielle in the arena today, and then if she was doing well, see how she would do on the trails.  But first, I had to clean up all the manure and fill the water troughs because I could tell by the clouds on the horizon that a storm was blowing in.  By the time I got done with those chores, the wind was blowing pretty hard, fast, and unpredictably.  Definitely not good weather to be riding either of my grey horses in.  But it was a good opportunity to work on getting Rock to focus since the wind would be blowing stuff all over the place and distracting him.

I remember reading somewhere that the first couple of minutes after you mount a horse sets the tone for the ride, so it's important to lay down the law right off the bat if you hope to have control of your horse.  Rock started his usual pussy-footing, so I immediately kicked him up to a purposeful walk.  Then he tried snatching snacks off the ground and off branches, so he got corrected for that.  Then he tried stopping to smell other's horses' roses, and got corrected for that.  Every tiny attempt to gawk was corrected before it could turn into a full-on neck craning stare.

Amazingly, after about five minutes of constant corrections and active riding, he was perfect.  He walked strong, looked straight ahead, stayed on the trail, focused on where he was putting his feet, so there was less tripping...

All was well until we came upon a plastic white grocery bag stuck to a branch on the side of the trail.  The wind was blowing it back and forth, up and down.  It had quite a life to it.  But look who I was riding -- my husband's brave, unflappable gelding who loves to play with plastic bags.  We got this.

Wrong.  The second Rock spotted the bag, his ears flew forward and then he jumped straight up into the air, changed direction in mid-flight and flew backwards, then came down with all 1,400 pounds of us on splayed legs.  He started to turn and run, but I stopped him and said, "No!"

He looked at the bag, looked back at me, and said, "I'm alright now," and he walked right past it like nothing ever happened.  That was probably the most powerful spook I've experienced on him.  He's a strong, muscular horse, so that spook gave my spine quite a jolt.

That woke him up and he managed to finish a route that usually takes him an hour in half that time.  He was still a bit up when we reached the barn, and he walked off while I was in the middle of the dismount.  Of course, I had to get my boot stuck in the stirrup.  I was trying to keep myself up over his back while trying to stop him at the same time.  I needed to get that boot out before touching the ground or I could get dragged.  I pushed up with all my might and got the boot free, but hurt my wrist in the process.  He's never done that before.  I think the wind is a bad influence on him.

I looks like I'll be getting a lot of exercise today, because I really should bicycle out there and grab that plastic bag before any other unsuspecting rider on a green horse gets into a wreck.


Nuzzling Muzzles said...

So, I rode out there on my bike to get the plastic bag, and I couldn't find it. I thought maybe it was further up the trail, so I kept looking. Maybe I can only see it if I'm headed in the other direction, so I turned around, but it appeared as if it had worked itself loose from the branch and blew away.

Crud. That meant it will probably just show up on some other bridle trail.

Suddenly, I saw it blowing across the trail ahead of me. I chased it, the bag changed directions, I changed directions with it. The wind was blowing so hard that I had to pedal as fast as I could to keep up with the bag. Each time it changed directions I had to brake and turn. One time I braked in sand and spun out. Another time I braked on a big rock and my hind end came out from underneath me. The chase finally ended when the bag got caught on another bush. Now it's safely in a trash can, where it belongs.

Mrs Shoes said...

Holy cow, that was quite a work out!
We call those evil bags in trees 'witch's britches'.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

That's hilarious.

achieve1dream said...

Good for you chasing down that bag! Yikes what an adventure. I'm glad you sat the huge spook and I hope it didn't mess your back up. Chrome does that where he spooks at something and then is totally fine with it. I wish they would think before reacting but I guess that goes against their nature lol.