Monday, November 8, 2010

A Trail Ride with Cole

A Trail Ride with Cole

Early in the month, the weather got very chilly. With chilly weather, we get hyper horses. Well, Cruiser and Ranger are getting up there in years, so the hyperness it nothing more than a small challenge and an opportunity for a few laughs. Cruise will unexpectedly dash ahead to the lead as we quietly plod along, or Ranger will toss in one of his kitten bucks. It’s not a big deal to us.

Cole, on the other hand, is an unknown. We never know what to expect with him. I am now regularly lounging him before riding—just to test his mood. He has definably been more challenging in the cooler weather—yet we have had some great rides.

I took him out on a ride on the first Sunday of the month. I had ridden him the 2 days previous, so I figured I would skip the lounging, since we were going on the trail. He does better on the trail than the arena.

I rode him by myself down the hill to the river. The hill has always been the toughest place for him (he thinks he should be allowed to trot downhill), but the day before, we practiced it 3 times. I must say, he was the best he had ever been this time. He only tried to trot a couple times, and they were very half-hearted attempts.

He willingly crossed the river—though he had never crossed it that high before, and we met Ellen, on foot, on the other side.

We walked for a few minutes, and he was very relaxed. I knew this was going to be a good ride. We trotted away from Ellen, and he didn’t even get upset about leaving her. We trotted and walked and trotted and walked for about 15 minutes when we got to the next river crossing.

I hadn’t gone across this one alone for a few weeks. We have either turned around, here, or followed Ranger. I expected some resistance, and Cole didn’t disappoint me. He stopped and told me that this is where we turn around. I accidently reverted to how I had to ride with Mingo, and gave him a big boot to get him to go forward. Oooops!!! That is not something you do with Cole. He is very, very sensitive to the forward cue. He jumped and started to trot down the bank. I made him walk, and he did until he saw the muddy bottom. I decided to try a different tactic to get him going. I squeezed my legs and held. When he took one step, I released, clicked and treated. I then asked again. This time, he responded right away. I rewarded him, again and asked him to resume walking. This time, I didn’t click him until he was walking through the mud. I decided that warranted clicking, too.

We then went into the river—and it was deep! I couldn’t see the bottom! I didn’t realize the depth until I was right in it. The current is very slow there, so it wasn’t a problem—it was just something different for him. Cole did just fine.

Once we got across the river, I felt his excitement level rise. I knew there was a group of 4 horses ahead of me, because I had seen them cross the river from a distance. I think that is why he perked up. We walked a bit until we got back in the woods—away from all the human caused distraction. I have only done minimal trotting in this area, so it was no surprise to me that when I asked him to trot, he went very fast. After about 15 seconds, I asked him to stop. We walked a bit and then trotted, again. We did this routine 4 times, and only on the last time, did he settle down and we went further. I walked for a few more minutes, passed up the other horses on their way home and shortly after, turned around to go home, myself.

Soon, I met Ellen and she walked with us. Well, she sort of walked with us. I had to keep stopping Cole to let her catch up. (Good practice for Cole.)

The trip home went well. He walked fast, and a few times he tried to trot. Sometimes, we could see the horses up ahead. Turns out, they were all mares. We passed up other horses going the opposite direction, and he acted very appropriate.

Overall, the ride was a great one. At the final river crossing, I left Ellen. On the other side, there was a woman and her daughter on horseback on top of the bank. They were just standing there. As I came up the bank, the woman asked me how Cole had been doing. I told her that he was doing great. The words were barely out of my mouth, when he jumped up the last stride of the bank and tried to lounge towards their horses! I quickly spun him away from them and threw in another spin for good measure. I guess he had been good for too long. I got asked him to stand, and when he seemed settled down, I got off and led him up the hill.

It was a great ride, but he made sure I didn’t forget that he is still a very green horse.

1 comment:

achieve1dream said...

Yikes I hope Cole didn't scare the other horses when he lunged at them. The woman wasn't angry was she?

Other than that subtle little reminder hehe he sounds like he was fantastic!