Thursday, April 25, 2013

Rainy Evening Ride

Rainy Evening Ride

My boyfriend, Kevin, wasn’t able to ride with me last night, but he didn’t miss too much. It was rainy, cold and the river was too high to cross. At first, I didn’t even think I could ride outside because of the rain. When I arrived at the barn, I peaked into the indoor arena, and a horse was being lounged. I figured I would wait until it was empty, so I cleaned a couple of stalls. The lounging was over, and I started to saddle—and the rain stopped! Hurray! I really couldn’t bring myself to ride inside. That’s how I always get this time of the year.

Cole and I went down the hill to the raging river. This hill is where he has been reliably unreliable. It isn’t just when he is going home, either. If I do successive trips, he gets worse with each one—up and down. To make things more complicated, I have begun to trot up the hill. I started last fall, a little, and soon as he settled down this spring we began again. It makes doing the hill more interesting and a better workout. Eventually, we’ll be cantering up, too.

When working the hill faster than the walk, the rule is—the last trip home has to be at a walk. The hill is just across the street from the stables, and a horse can learn to rush up it really quick. My first horse, Brandy, was allowed to run up this hill by his previous owner, my aunt. When we rode him as kids, we were barely able to stop him at the top—and though I rode him on different trails when I owned him, we always had trouble with hills.

There is a flat section on top, in the middle and at the bottom. We can trot the flat sections going away from home very easily, so we do. I insist he walks down the slopes, and that is a challenge at times. Last night, he did good going down the hill the first two times and was pretty speedy the last time—but never broke into the trot without permission.

We trotted up halfway on the first trip, and he was very well behaved. We walked the last section to the street because he just isn’t ready for faster work, there--home is too strong of a lure for him at that point. We then turned around—practicing our turn on the haunches and headed back down.

The second trip up, he was much more hyper at the trot, and I decided return to a walk after about a third of the way up. Good thing. I was glad we were walking when we saw the turkey at the side of the trail stretching his wings. We passed him up and continued to the top, practiced our turn on the haunches and headed back down.

When we got halfway down, we saw the turkey on the middle of the trail. Cole wasn’t afraid, but fascinated. He wanted to go visit him. Turkeys are rather new to the area, so I’m not sure how skittish they are. I can let the horses follow Canadian geese, and they just waddle off the trail. I didn’t know what a turkey would do. We approached cautiously. As we got closer, the turkey moved off the trail and trotted away. We continued down the hill, trotted at the bottom, turned around and headed up.

This is when Cole tends to be the worse. Since we have trotted up the hill two times in a row, he is quite enthusiastic about doing it a third time—but this was our last trip. We practiced a few halts to get his attention and then proceeded right past the starting point at a walk! I was so proud of him. I got off as a reward and led him up the hill. That wasn’t the only reason I got off. I saw some garlic mustard along the trail I wanted to pull out. I have spent years trying to eradicate it from the hill trail, and except for a big patch by the street, I have nearly succeeded. It is a very invasive but tasty plant. I have cooked with it, but I have been pulling it out at home, too, and now I have to go too far to get it. Cole thinks it is tasty, too, and I shared some of it with him as we hiked up the hill.

When we got to the center, the turkey was back by the edge of the trail. We approached on foot. When we were close enough that I could have jumped at it and pulled a feather out for Thunder to play with, it took off over the edge of the cliff into a tree above. That spooked Cole. He threw he head up in surprise and trembled—for just a moment—and then he bowed.

At that, we went home.

1 comment:

achieve1dream said...

And then he bowed! LOL! I love Cole! I sure wish I had your hill... having total hill envy. Chrome needs a good hill to work his stifles, but it's sooooo flat here. :( I'm glad Cole is doing so well. He's so smart!