Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Trail Training Newsletter - #99 - part 2

Springtime Silliness Revisited

Every spring, Ellen and I have the same problem—hyper horses. I think we wouldn’t have so many problems if we merely walked on the trail all year. Our problems stem from riding so much at a trot and canter. We love it, and the horses love it, too.

We did what we always do when we can first get across the river in the spring. We just walk. The horses are so excited to be out, that they walk very fast. Even Mingo speeds along at a walk those first few rides. Oh how I wish he walked like that all the time.

After a few rides like this, we are ready to add some trotting and cantering. Unfortunately, the horses are ready, too—really ready. They want to kick up their heels and race along the trail with each other. Ellen and I don’t really want to be racing, so we have come up with some techniques to keep this from happening. Our personal favorite is to just take the horses out by themselves. The go at a more reasonable speed when they are alone, and we can just sit back and enjoy the ride without any problems. The only problem we have with that, is what do we do if we are both out at the barn at the same time?

Simple—we go out at separate times, meet and ride home at a walk. We have done this with Cruiser and Ranger nearly every spring, but they learned the game, and the horse that went out second would get very excited. We certainly weren’t going to do this with Cruiser with his healed bowed tendon. Cruiser would be going out all by himself until all the horses are settled down.

Mingo doesn’t know the game, so we figured if Ranger went out first, Mingo could follow 10 minutes later, and Ellen could wait for us over by the next river crossing. All went well. Mingo had been out on the trail enough in the last few weeks that he acted like it was a typical summer day. He plodded down the hill, crossed the river and did some slow and smooth trotting. We got to a spot that is good for cantering. He gave me a fast but lovely canter. It was his first cantering out on the trail of the spring. I brought him down to a walk, we rounded a corner and got to our favorite part of the trail to canter. It is about a quarter mile, and at the end of it, Ranger would be waiting.

Mingo’s head went out and he started neighing! I think he heard Ranger, who Ellen later told me was neighing at the other end. I asked for a canter, and he gave me that lovely canter of before. After a bit, he neighed again, but his head down to buck, (I held it up, so he only got a large canter stride) and took off. I don’t think I have ever ridden Mingo a gallop this fast ever. He is simply not a speedy horse at any gait.

He kept neighing and going faster. I could feel my face flattening to my head like a dog with his head sticking out of a fast moving car. I think I was holding my breath because I soon felt myself gasping for air. About two thirds down the trail, Mingo came to his senses and slowed down. He still kept neighing. When he got close to Ranger, he dropped to a trot when I asked him. They were so happy to see each other.

Well, now Mingo knows the game, too. I don’t think can play it anymore. The comical part is that Ranger knows the game so well that he knows we are going to play it if I am out at the barn and don’t got out with him on the ride. He tends to get a little confused, sometimes. He thought Mingo was ahead of him instead of behind him!

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