Thursday, August 15, 2013
Dante Ride Two
What would Dante do when he saw the river? That was the question. Would he refuse to cross? Would he remember what he learned—that slow and careful steps are less scary? That was the other question.
It was time to find out the answers.
My older niece was joining us on Ranger and Kevin was with us, once again, on Starry. The night was much cooler, and I had on a light jacket.
Dante reached the river’s edge, first. He stopped and looked at it. Starry and Ranger headed across, and Dante stepped in! Only 10 seconds! Hurray!
He started slow, but started to pick up speed. I asked him to stop, but he didn’t notice. He took a very quick step, slipped a little—splashing Kevin. (The water was very cold on this chilly day.) Rather than panic like in the past, he immediately went back to slow and careful. I clicked him a number of times, but he didn’t stop for a treat.
We made it to the other side safely and dry—except for Kevin. I knew the rest of the ride would go well, after that.
Dante did try to trot quite a few times when we were supposed to be walking, but he came back to the walk right away when I asked. When we did want to trot, Dante was in the lead. That went well for a little bit, but then Ranger got angry and tried to race. Ranger will never change. We put him in front, and he trotted off much brisker than he has been this summer. Starry and Dante followed behind quite happily.
We turned at the next river crossing—I will save that one for the weekend. We walked back with no problems. Ranger was very perky and led the pack. Dante wasn’t walking as fast as him, so we had to trot to catch up quite a few times. Once, he decided to trot to catch up, but I wouldn’t let him. I want my horses to wait for permission. That was all it took. The rest of the evening, he waited for the request.
We decided to do something new with Dante—we passed home. He has done that, before, but we stopped at the street. This time, we were going to go to my nieces’ favorite trail. We call it “The Access Trail” because that is what it is. It veers off the main trail and heads to the street—bypassing the ford so that the park can get vehicles into the area when the river is flooded over the ford. It isn’t long, but it is a nice way to extend the ride a little.
First, we had to cross the street. I thought I would make it easy on Dante for his first time and have him follow one of the other horses. We stopped and asked for a volunteer, but Ranger and Starry stopped and refused to go first. My niece and Kevin asked them to pass, but they wouldn’t budge. So much for his horse friends. Dante went first.
Right across the street is a steep hill. Dante walked quietly up the hill and down the less steep hill on the other side—over the access trail to the end by the street. He led the whole way—looking intensely to the left and right. We turned around to head home.
I wasn’t sure how he would be about going down the steep hill. I had so much trouble with Cole on hills. Cole tried to rush down them—out of control. It took a lot of work to get him to walk down in a balanced way. Cole was from the flatlands of Indiana. Cruiser was from an even flatter part of western Ohio, and he initially had no balance whatsoever going down steep hills. He didn’t know how to control his legs. Both are great, now. Cole steps carefully and only has to be reminded now and then to slow down, and Cruise, when I can ride him, gaits down quickly and sure-footedly.
Well, Dante’s mountain life paid off big time. He traveled down the hill like a champ. I felt safer on him than any horse I have ever been on. That’s one less thing to worry about. He even stopped at the bottom by the street—something that was a challenge for Cole who would build up too much momentum.
We then went home. He crossed the whole river with the slow careful steps. I think he really did figure it out. A few more times, and Ellen can stop worrying and ride him across. It was totally uneventful ride. Dante really is a boring horse, but such a nice one to ride.