Most years I make the mistake of trying to ride all four horses throughout the fall and winter, running into trouble, and then hiring a professional horse trainer in the spring, only to have the horses sit all summer. This year I decided to just get a head start by having the professional ride my horses first thing in the fall since they are out of practice between not being ridden much last spring due to the presence of the power company along the trails, and not being ridden much all summer due to the extreme heatwave.
I've already ridden Rock, and he seems to be fine. I don't want to ride Lostine much anymore since she stumbles and falls on her face. So, I just asked the horse trainer to ride Bombay and Gabbrielle. That way if someone comes out to look at buying one or both of them, the horses will have at least been ridden regularly and recently between both the horse trainer and I riding them.
He rode Bombay out alone first, and about the time he was heading back, I led Gabbrielle out onto the trails so that he and I could work on keeping both horses focused on us when they spotted each other. I'm tired of my horses getting hyper-excited over seeing people, horses and dogs on the trails. I want them to learn to focus on their rider/handler. Nothing worries me more than when the horse I'm riding forgets that I am on its back.
Bombay was perky, but wasn't acting out of control or dangerous like he has with me at times in the past. The horse trainer said he was fine. He crossed the busy road twice. He just had to hold him back on the way home, because Bombay wanted to walk right out in front of a truck. I was glad to know that Bombay behaved himself, but I always have to remind myself that however he behaves for my horse trainer, he's always going to be worse for me.
Then the trainer rode Gabbrielle out alone on the trails. She flunked the mounting process right away, which was upsetting. She's the one horse who always holds still for the mount and waits for her cue to move off, but on this day she took off and the trainer had to pull her head around and circle her. She balked at the gate, like she always does, but he got her through it pretty quick.
I led Lostine out onto the trails to meet them on their way back. Gabbrielle popped her head up when she saw us, but didn't balk like she usually does. I don't think Lostine could see her, because we were looking into the sun. I led Lostine up a different trail and let her graze, because there was no point in continuing on the head-on course since we'd end up meeting in a mud puddle.
Lostine wasn't paying attention and when she heard Gabbrielle's hoof beats, she jumped and ran until she hit the end of the rope. That spooked Gabbrielle, who took off running too. The horse trainer had to pull her head around and circle her several times to get her to settle down. I felt bad, because though I wanted the horses to practice meeting up with other horses along the trails without having freak outs, I didn't mean to cause Gabbrielle to spook while the trainer was riding her.
She was dripping with sweat after only being ridden at a walk for 45 minutes. The trainer said it was mostly nerves on her part. He had a few disagreements with her, because she wouldn't walk across ground that was darker in color due to being recently wet. He said that she took him through the middle of some bushes and trees, knocking his hat off his head twice. I was shocked. I know she spooks at stupid things, and I know she likes to scratch her rump and belly on bushes, but this sounded like she was trying to lose her rider.
I figured that riding her out without a buddy horse would be difficult, and I figured she'd balk at rain puddles, but I didn't expect such bratty behavior out of her. Obviously, she needs work. The good thing about this horse trainer is that not much scares or intimidates him, so he was happy to come again next week to do it all over again. Yeehaw!
However, the horse that really surprised me was Lostine. I've been leading and riding her out on the trails more consistently than the other horses, and she's usually calm and easy. After being spooked by having Gabbrielle come up from behind her, Lostine could not settle down. Leading her back to the barn was like leading a race horse. She was jigging sideways and throwing her head around. I had to choke up on the rope, because I felt like if her hind end got close enough to me she would kick me.
I was baffled by her behavior. I know it was near supper time, and thought perhaps Lostine was worried that Gabbrielle would get fed first since she was ahead of us. The herd dynamic always takes over at feeding time. I tried to talk the trainer into coming earlier so that the horses wouldn't be so anxious about eating, but his schedule is very limited. He was able to make an appointment a half hour earlier. I might just give the horses a snack before he arrives.
Anyway, I noticed that Lostine was wheezing. She doesn't have any nasal discharge, but seemed to have labored breathing during our walk. I'll have to keep an eye on it. It feels like she is aging fast this year. She's at a point where all she wants to do is stand in her favorite corner of the barn with her head hanging over a water trough. She was super annoyed with Gabbrielle when we cut everyone loose in the paddock. She kept chasing her around and biting her. I wondered if Lostine could tell that Gabbrielle had been a brat and treated the horse trainer poorly on their ride. If she was disciplining her, I was okay with that, because I think it's about time that someone deliver Gabbrielle's butt on a platter. She needs to be taken down a notch before one of the geldings or a rider gets seriously hurt.