Friday, July 25, 2014

Dante and the Steep Riverbank

Dante and the Steep Riverbank

Since the big storm in May, we have had a log at the top of one of our riverbanks. It is the steepest and muddiest bank we have to negotiate. The log is situated badly and too tall to step over, but you can take a quick right turn up an even steeper slope and go around it. It’s a bit tricky, but doable going up—but way trickier on the way down. I was able to coax Ellen to ride up it on Dante a while ago, but she was nervous about going down, so we have been crossing the river via the ford.

Last weekend, we rode that way and she had no problem going up it, of course. It had been a rainy morning and the streets were still wet. The cars on the river ford were very loud from it. The noise made Ellen nervous. She decided she would be less nervous on the riverbank than the street.

I took Cole first so she could watch him. He had been giving me a problem by rushing down it, but just that week, I convinced him slow and careful was better. (I go through this with him every year on this bank.) He carefully walked parallel to the river, stepped down the steep slope and adjusted his angle and went down into the water. I was very proud of him and was glad Ellen could see one of his best performances. I clicked and treated him at the bottom—he earned it.

I now got to watch Dante try it. In the past, he has been reluctant to go down this bank due to the steepness, so it was a relief to see him take his first step down. When he was in the steepest section, he started to slide in the mud. He handled it just like my Cruiser used to handle mud. He held steady until he stopped and took his next step. He continued down, slowly and carefully and quietly stepped into the water. Success! He did as well as Cole did without weeks of practice.

Now, this meant that my niece, Missy, and I could ride this trail on our weekly rides. A few days later, we headed out. Dante has been a bit pokey crossing the water at this crossing in the past. He is slow to step in and tends to stall while crossing. This evening, he passed up Cole and got into the water well before Cole was even close. I had told Missy to click him when he got all four hooves in—and he deserved it. He then went across the river like a gentleman—with no stalling. Of course, he had no trouble going up the steep bank with the log on the other side, since he has done it a number of times already.

We had a nice ride on the other side. Dante did spook once—we don’t know at what. His form of spooking consists of taking a sidestep and trotting 4-5 steps before stopping.

Now, it was time to go down the riverbank. I had Missy watch Cole; who was perfect, again. I guess Dante couldn’t let Cole be the only perfect one—he was too! This time, he didn’t even slide in the mud. What a great horse!

Now, Cole couldn’t let Dante be the star of the show. He had to show us how he does the riverbank on the crossing closest too home. At the very bottom of it, we have to step down into very deep mud for about 2 feet until reaching the water. There is no way around it except for a tiny bit of dry trail that is a hoof wide on the far left of the trail.

I told Missy to watch and gave Cole his head. He walked down the bank right into the river without stepping one step in the mud. Even upon seeing it, she could hardly believe he was able to do it. Ah, the advantages of riding a little horse… By the way, I never taught him to do this. He just didn’t like going in the mud and came up with his own solution.

1 comment:

achieve1dream said...

Yay! They are both clever!!