Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Cole’s Second Evening Solo Trail Ride of the Year

Cole’s Second Evening Solo Trail Ride of the Year

I found myself out alone, in the cold with Cole Train. There was a few inches of snow on the ground and more falling. Will spring ever get here? Is it really the end of March?

Once I crossed the river, I decided to trot right away to see what his mood was like—and to keep warm. He turned into Turbo Cole. He trotted very fast, and every few strides he increased his speed. I was having trouble posting—as it has been months since I’ve posted much at all. I don’t know if it was exuberance, or that he couldn’t stand my posting anymore, but he broke into a canter. Well, that was unacceptable, so it tried to get him back to a trot. It became a bit of a fight, but I eventually got him to stop and stand. I let him think for a moment and then we proceeded at a walk.

We went down a slope, and when we reached flat ground, I asked for another trot. I anticipated a repeat of his past performance, and I was shocked when he trotted like a normal Cole at a moderate speed. In fact, he maintained his sensible trotting for the rest of the ride. We ended up doing more trail trotting than we have as of yet this year.

All too soon, we arrived at the turnaround point. I planned to walk him home, as I don’t trot towards home when we are this close until later in the spring when they are calmer. Unlike our last solo ride, he walked quite well. It looked like I was going to be able to ride all the way home.

The trail parallels the river. On this part of the trail, there is a tall shale cliff on the other side of the river. In the winter, the water running down the cliff forms giant icicles. The icicles aren’t content with just melting in the spring. They seem to prefer to fall off the cliffs into the weather like glaciers calving. It consistently frightens all horses—including Starry. I looked ominously over at the icicles and decided I needed to keep two hands on the reins.

We nearly made it. As we neared the end of the cliff, we heard the ice sliding down and splashing into the water. Cole jumped forward. My cat-like reflexes had him turned—facing the ice avalanche before I even knew what happened. (Thank you Cruiser, my very spooky horse, for the training.) We turned back and proceeded down the trail. Cole was relaxed like nothing even happened. That lasted maybe ten seconds. Another ice avalanche came crashing down.

Once again, I quickly got control of him, but this time, he was upset. He wanted out of there. He tried trotting and prancing. I turned him around and made him stand. That didn’t’ help this time, and as soon as he was facing home, he tried rushing again. I turned him away, again, only to see a jogger come around the corner. He was worried about the jogger, but once he passed, Cole decided he wanted to go with him.

Sigh. I dismounted to lead him. He settled down fairly fast once I was on the ground. It was very muddy and sloppy from all the snow. My legs got very wet. I wished I had worn my half chaps.

Even after he settled down, I stayed on the ground for the exercise. I mounted to cross the river and rode partway up the hill. He behaved lovely, but I got off so I could stay warm.

There are some things that you just can’t desensitize a horse for, and ice avalanches are one of them. We also get avalanches in the summer as parts of the shale cliffs come down. Over the winter, a large part of the cliff broke away and fell into the water taking a half dozen trees with it. We are all so grateful that none of us were there with horses when it happened. (Though we would have loved to see it if we didn’t have the horses with us.) The scary part is that it created a large crack in the cliff, and we are waiting for that to break off and fall.

Anyone want to go for a ride with us?


Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Yikes! And I was floored when you first told me that you have had trees fall while you were out riding. Ice and rock slides make a ton of noise.

achieve1dream said...

Cole is such a good boy!!!