Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Long Weekend Update

Dante is doing so well, I have very little to report. Basically, we are just working on building Ellen’s confidence. I say “we” because Dante and I are doing together.

We had a3-day weekend. As usual, on the first day, the river was too high. It was rainy, anyway. We worked on the hill. We took each horse separately. First, Ellen went with Dante. This is to help wean her off Cole. Dante was fine by himself—he always has been. He does tend to cry a little bit. He has the hoarsest voice I have ever heard on a horse.

At the bottom of the hill, we have a smooth, flat section that she trotted back and forth. Dante was a little fast and hyper to start with, but then he settled right down.

I then took Cole on the hill by himself instead of with Ranger. That way, I could do faster work. We did a lot of trotting, some cantering and Ellen placed some small logs on the trail so we could try jumping. He mostly trotted over them. Once, he did a large canter stride.

She then took Ranger on a quiet trip around the back loop with me walking beside them.

Saturday turned out to be a much better day. We took Cole and Dante on the short, fast ride. We did lots of trotting and a little bit of cantering. Since the river was still a little high, Ellen just rode Ranger on the hill. He was quite full of himself and trotted rather fast on the bottom.

Sunday was the best day of them all. We took Cole and Dante up to the show ring trails. There was a show at the ring, but we went nowhere near it. We just trotted The back trails. Both horses behaved lovely. Ellen then took Ranger across the river as l hiked along. They found Kevin with Starry along the way, and that made it even more fun.

On a sad note, but days are getting shorter and there is barely enough time for me to get a trail ride in after work. Kevin and I have had such a nice summer of trail riding in the evenings this year—I am really going to miss it. I just can’t get into the mood of working in the arena. I have one more week.

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Goldenrod Ride

The Goldenrod Ride

My sister and I love to ride up to the show ring trails all the time—but particularly when the goldenrod is blooming. Sunday was a chilly, sunny morning—a perfect day to see the goldenrod. Instead of Dante, Ellen took Ranger. Ranger loves the trails up there since he used to live there. He gets all excited on the way out and pouts on the way home.

This day was no exception. He was a little slow to warm up as any 25-year-old would be, but once he did, he was very eager to be out. Ranger is the bully of the barn, and he loves to pick on the other horses. He likes to lead at the trot and gets angry when other horses pass. If we are walking and the bugs are bad, he wants the other horses to go first, though.

In the last few years, he invented a new game. Instead of trotting fast so other horses can’t pass, he slows down or stops to let them pass and then makes angry, threatening faces at them as they try to pass. Cruiser never cared—he was just happy to be in the lead. Cole and Dante get intimidated. We don’t like it because we want to keep trotting and not play the game at all.

I decided to try something new. Ellen would trot off with Ranger. I asked Cole to stop, clicked and treated him. That gave Ranger a chance to get 20 feet or so ahead. Then, I asked Cole to trot and match Ranger’s speed. The speed was a little slower than Cole wanted, but I just kept praising him and telling him what wonderful horse he was. The only time we ever caught up with Ranger was the time I wasn’t paying attention. It worked like a dream. Ellen got to trot Ranger as much as she liked, and Cole didn’t get picked on.

As we were trotting through the Lagoon, some people were standing in a parking lot by the trail. They pointed out Ranger and watched as he went by. I told Cole that this was our chance. I quit posting, squeezed my legs and Cole launched into his “Show Trot.” Ellen heard me chuckling, and she knew just what happened. I don’t know if the people looked at us, but if they did, Cole looked fantastic.

Ranger marched along to the big hill. Ellen leads him up because she wants to make it as easy as possible for him. (She has been getting spoiled from riding up with Dante.) We walked through the pretty pine forest and then we reached the “Pig Trail.” It is the best trail in the whole park since it is no where close to the river and is not subject to flooding. We trotted along—stopping only where it got muddy. Then, suddenly the trees ended and we were out in the field of goldenrods—and they are at their peak of blooming. It was yellow everywhere—except for the places that were the homes of purple asters and the last of the Joe Pye Weed. The sun was at a perfect angle—it looked quite magical.

We trotted along to the end of the trail, turned around and headed back. We did a little bit of trotting, but we didn’t want to overdo it with Ranger. We explored one side trail that doesn’t go far, but it is a fun trail, nonetheless. It is seldom traveled and many tall plants were obscuring the trail. Ranger had a great time eating. I was able to keep Cole from eating, and gave him a carrot at the end for resisting all that temptation, but I don’t know if he understood it.

After a walk break with Cole in the lead, Ellen thought we could try trotting with him in front. She doesn’t want Ranger to push himself too hard, so I would have to keep Cole at a slow and steady speed. I used to do this back we would ride with Ranger when my niece, Sarah, rode him, so I knew that Cole was up to the task. I asked Cole for a slow trot, and he went so slow that Ranger caught up to us and Ellen told us to speed up. I could feel Cole reacting to the pressure of Ranger being close to him. I asked him to go faster, and he did—but then Ranger turned into a bully—and Cole said, “I’m out of here.” He took off like lightning to get away from Ranger. I stopped him as soon as I could, looked around and saw Ranger charging down the trail. I missed his kitten buck and a couple of canter strides. (Ranger doesn’t canter under saddle anymore, so that was the real surprise. The kitten bucks are normal.)

So much for that experiment. After that, we walked home. At times, Ranger would want Cole in the lead, we would pass, he would make faces and sometimes get upset that Cole was then in the lead and insist he went in the back. Poor Cole. He was always glad to get behind Ranger.

It was a great ride, and I think that Ranger really enjoyed himself. Ellen and I sure did enjoy ourselves. I hope Cole did…

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

More Cuteness

Holiday Weekend

Holiday Weekend

Dante did great this weekend. On Saturday, we went out to the Brookpark Bridge for the first time. It is a massive bridge and very noisy. Cole Train was nervous the first few times under that bridge. Dante asked to touch the pillar. Ellen let him. Cole stood and watched—appalled. Ellen clicked him and gave him a treat. It was a very hot and humid morning, so we didn’t go really fast. we met Kevin on Starry on the way back. it turned out to be well over 2 hours.

On Sunday, we did the show ring trail. it was ordinary and a very nice ride—just hot and humid.

Monday, the heat and humidity continued, so we decided to do the shorter ride. Ho hum. Uneventful. We met Starry on the way back.

The big news is my garden! I have been harvesting non stop. My freezer is getting filled and my dehydrator has been running non stop. I have piles of zucchinis—yes piles. This may have been my best garden, ever, in spite of my tomatoes getting blight. I have so many of them, I don’t care if the plants die early. my lima beans have hit their stride, the beans just won’t slow down and I am still eating cucumbers. My peppers were the only underperformers, but the have started to produce, too. my only problem—will I be able to eat all the veggies I have stored for winter by next summer?

On Saturday, Kevin and I went downtown and caught the end of the air show. The Blue Angels put on a fine show. We also got a few good hikes in over the weekend.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Long Weekend!

Long Weekend!

Ellen and I had a 4-day weekend, and we spent it riding, of course. Thursday, the river was too high to cross. I watched her ride Dante in the arena and then she did the hill a couple times with him. We then rode Ranger and Cole on the hill.

Friday, the river was low enough to cross, so we took Dante and Cole up to the show ring trails. They were both so good and we had a great time. it was so oppressively humid that Ranger got the day off. we just led him in the arena to loosen him up.

Saturday, we did the shorter ride because it has a good section for cantering. When we arrived, I cantered off with Cole. Cole can be very fast, and we lose most horses we canter with. When we got to the end, we stopped and waited for them to catch up. Turns out that Ellen got to gallop Dante for the first time. she thought it was because Cole got so far ahead, but when she stopped, she found a huge, ugly horsefly on his rump. It left Dante before she could kill it and came right to Cole. It landed on his shoulder and was flat on the ground the next second. It will never bother another horse, again. The rest of the ride was routine, but fun. To make it a longer ride, we passed up home and rode the access trail. Ranger went on a short ride and I hiked along with them.

Ellen had so much fun cantering that we did the same ride on Sunday. Dante cantered his normal speed, and she loved it. She took Ranger on the short ride, again and I hiked, again.

The rides are becoming so ordinary, I don't have much to write about. That's a good thing--but it makes boring blogs.

Next weekend, the weather looks like it will be cooler and hopefully less humid. We plan to do some longer rides.

My nephew

Adorable--as usual

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Rides are Becoming Ordinary

The Rides are Becoming Ordinary

And that’s a good thing. It just doesn’t give me much to write about. I only got to ride with Ellen on Saturday, and we had a really nice time. We went up to the show ring trails. This time, we even rode up to the show ring. It is a large open field with the trail going around the show grounds. The area can be active, so it was no surprise that we ran into 5 horses. Dante handled the horses passing him without any trouble—unlike last weekend. It may have been because he didn’t feel trapped this time. We didn’t ride the whole trail because it was very hot in the sun. We usually only do it in the cooler weather. We prefer take the back trail which is scenic and very quiet.

Ellen tries to do a “first” on every ride. Her “first” on this one was to ride down the very steep hill. It has been years and years since she has done that, and she made it about a third of the way down before her nerves told her she should hop off and lead the rest of the way. Dante was perfect.

She had to work on Sunday, so I planned a good, long ride with Kevin and Starry. This was my longest ride of the year. They were so slow for the first half of the ride, but once I threw some cantering in, Cole woke up. Soon, we lost Starry as we flew down the trail at a trot—he actually got too hyper to canter safely. It was so much fun. While we were enthusiastically trotting down the trail, I had a wonderful thought—Cruiser must have come along for the ride! Cole was acting just like him. When we got to the homestretch, I figured Cole would fly down it—after all, that’s what Cruiser always did. I asked him to canter—and away we went. He stopped quietly at the end and then we waited for Starry to catch up.

We did a mix of trotting and walking on the way home. It started to rain, but it never got so bad that we were uncomfortable. The ride took us 2:50. I used to do this ride in less than 2 hours when Cruiser was young. He was indefatigable. Part of the reason it took so long is that the trail is in such back shape in many places that we only trot—and I used to canter it with Cruiser. I sure hope they intend to do some repairs on our trails. We still had fun, despite the trail condition.

Pretty in Purple

Dante's color is purple--without a doubt.