I was going to title this "Riding Sans Solo", but apparently, Sans Solo is a porn star.
A friend and I had been trying to schedule a trail ride together for a while, and as is the case when you get multiple humans and horses together with ever-changing weather, there were a couple of postponements. We thought perhaps the third time would be the charm.
While I was cleaning the paddock, I heard a vehicle pull up in front of my house, heard a door slam, and heard two chirps from the horn, meaning that the person was locking his vehicle and was planning on staying a while. I looked up the driveway and saw that it was a large truck parked at the entrance to the bridle trails. It wasn't blocking the gate, so all I had to worry about was making sure that the driver didn't fire up his engine and take off right while I was riding my horse past.
My friend texted me and said she'd be half an hour late due to an unexpected setback with another one of her horses. I felt relieved, because that would buy me some time for the truck to be moved. By now a second vehicle was pulling into my neighbor's driveway, so I knew these were house hunters meeting with a real estate agent. Most people don't spend more than 15 or 20 minutes viewing a home. However, when I saw who the house hunters were, I knew was in for a long wait. This was the same couple who spent half the day scouring the property last Friday, and also came by on the ATV to hike around at the back of the property for a long time the day before that. They sure like to take their time.
When I bought the home I'm in now, I toured it in five minutes and put an offer on it within a few days. I was in a hurry to move. These people seem to not be able to pull the trigger. They're obviously interested, because they keep coming back. I guess they want to make sure they are comfortable there and that they didn't miss anything on the first couple of walkthroughs.
I kept hoping they'd leave, but they were out touring the back yard again by the time I needed to saddle up. Fortunately, they didn't call me over to the fence to chat, because I didn't have the time. It embarrasses me when I promise to meet another horseback rider somewhere, and I'm running late, so the other horseback rider has to ride all the way to my house.
Their truck was still by the gate to the trails when I rode out. Rock saw it, balked, and stood like a statue staring at it. I let him look, and then made him get down to business and pass it. I first made sure that no one was in the driver's seat about to turn the key in the ignition. Rock was so obnoxious about burying his face in bushes all the way out. You'd think I'd been starving him. I rode around in the area of our meeting place, but didn't see my friend anywhere. I watched Rock to see if he detected anything. At one point he alerted in the direction she was coming from, but it turned out that the fire station was doing some training drills and someone was talking over a loud speaker.
I didn't see another soul on the trails. I think I rode for about half an hour before I finally spotted a horseback rider. Rock didn't see her. I didn't think it was my friend, but then she waved so I waited. Then I realized that for her to get to me, she would have to ride through a cholla field, so I turned Rock around and headed down the trail further away from the cholla, but he was so enamored with the other horse, that he kept trying to turn his head to look at him, and his tongue was hanging out the side of his mouth in the process. He looked like he was making silly faces at my friend's horse. It turned out that my friend was running behind schedule even more than predicted because she got stopped by her neighbor to chat -- the very thing that I was worried would happen to me and make me late.
We took turns leading, and rode side by side when the trail was wide enough, and both horses did pretty well. I found a balance between ignoring some of Rock's posturing behaviors, while correcting others. I wanted him to relax, and I knew that constantly correcting him wasn't going to help, so I limited my corrections to when he was thinking about hurting the other horse. Since my friend's horse is gaited and likes to lead, there were a few times when he tried to pass us. Rock, like most jerk-wad drivers on the road, suddenly sped up to try to stay ahead of her horse and he even sometimes went so far as to try to block him from passing with his body or tried to run him off the trail. When her horse got going too fast, she'd circle him away from us, and Rock would try to nip him on the rump. I never let him. You know you have a good connection with your horse when you know what he is thinking before he acts out the thought, and you can stop him.
Eventually, both horses settled down and we got into a good rhythm with Rock in front moving faster than his usual pace, and her horse in back moving slower than his usual pace. Each horse needed to improve in those directions. My friend said that her horse had its face buried in Rock's tail, and Rock was handling it well. At first, he had his ears flicked back, but I think that once he realized that the other horse wasn't going to bite him, he accepted being snowplowed from behind. Gabbrielle and Bombay used to cling to his rump too when they were feeling insecure. In this case, my friend's horse just wanted to go faster.
Rock was good about not running uphill again. I've been consistently praising and petting him for that, so I think he's got the message. He still needs a little work on rushing home, but having another horse on his mind did distract him from totally taking off on me.
It was a very successful ride. We were able to talk and get caught up with what's been going on without having to constantly worry about behavior problems, and we had the trails to ourselves, so we didn't have to worry about what other people and animals were going to do. We rode back to my house, and the house hunters were gone by then. We drank ice water and talked while her horse stood quietly tied to my hitching post. Both of our horses worked up a good sweat. We're going to try it again next week if the weather allows.
The dogs weren't able to keep their bodily functions under control for the two hours I was gone, so there was poop on the floor and pee in a diaper. Sometimes I've just got to go for a ride and tell myself that it is what it is, and I'll deal with the mess when I get home. There was the usual dog chaos when I opened the door with everyone running around on the porch, not able to decide whether to jump on our guest or run down to the dirt to relieve themselves. I do wish my dogs had better manners, but it's kind of hard to train them now with two of them being mostly deaf and me having a bad back that makes it difficult to bend down to touch them as a way of communication.
Speaking of dogs, it's time to go take them outside again...