Monday, August 11, 2014

Dante goes a little further down the trail

Dante goes a little further down the trail

The weather, high rivers and tree cutting has kept us from taking Dante across the big river for his second time for about a month. We finally got a couple good, low-river days this weekend. It was time to push his boundaries a little further down the trail. It was a weekend of firsts.

The first one was a new river crossing. We had only crossed Dante on the way home on this one. It was time for him to do it on the way out instead of crossing on the ford. Ellen was up for the challenge. We had been putting this one off because when we tried it last year, we couldn’t even get a single hoof in the water. This time—no problem. He went right in. Now, we can cross either the ford or the river over here.

Ellen rode him all the way to the next river crossing. This one, we haven’t done at all, and I don’t know if we will until it changes, again. The water has carved all kinds of holes and crags in it—so bad that we would be struggling with each step. The only way it may be doable is if it is cleared down stream. Fortunately, we can cross on the ford. Ellen still gets nervous in traffic, so I took Dante and led him while she rode Cole. Once across, we have to wait for the light to cross the intersection. There was a loud motorcycle idling next to us on the road—and Dante didn’t care. We crossed the street, I mounted and headed to the big river.

Dante had his only moment of misbehavior about halfway across. He slowly turned and tried to go home. I slowly turned him back and guided him across the rest of the river. after that, he was fine.

Cole was in a mood, and he didn’t want to work. Ellen was worried that he was foot sore (and he might have been, or he may have been muscle sore from vigorously playing the night before), so she didn’t push the issue. I just rode on with Dante. We trotted wherever the trail allowed us for about 10 minutes, turned around and headed back. He didn’t mind leaving Cole, didn’t mind being on a new trail and seemed to enjoy himself.

Cole didn’t mind that Dante left, and he seemed pleased that Ellen let him just coast along.

On the way home, nothing out of the ordinary happened. We did find Kevin on Starry, and he joined us for the rest of the way.

Sunday, we were going to repeat the ride, but Ellen was going to spend more of the ride on Dante.

We switched for the ford and the big river crossing, but then Ellen took over after that. Cole’s little vacation was over. We led the way, and I insisted that he trotted. He didn’t put up much of a fight, so he was either recovered from soreness—or was playing a game with Ellen.

Cole is a naturally faster horse than Dante, so we trotted on ahead—wherever the trail permitted. Really, the trails are just lousy over there. That flood in the spring washed so much of them away, exposing large amounts of gravel. In most places, there is a horse-width area that we can trot along, but we have to stop often and walk over gravel. It makes my heart hurt to see them so bad. We used to canter these trails with ease.

Anyway, back to the ride. When I was well away from Dante, we did find a little bit we could canter. After that, Cole trotted much faster and in no time at all that we reached the predetermined spot for turning around. The next section of trail was always in good shape because it doesn’t get flooded, so we took off in a brisk canter for a few minutes, turned around and trotted just as briskly back until we found Ellen and Dante. She told me he was good the whole time we were gone, and I wasn’t surprised a single bit.

We headed on home—trotting where we could. Dante kept up better on the way home. Ellen chose to stay on Dante for the big river, and it was a good choice. He was perfect for crossing. She gave him to me to lead through the busy intersection and across the ford. Once again, he was fine. I gave him back to her for the rest of the ride.

We only had one “issue,” but it wasn’t Dante’s fault. At one point, a large group of horses passed us. We stopped by the side of the trail to let them by, as both Dante and Cole get uneasy with other horses. The group should have gone single file, but they acted as if we weren’t even there—riding 2 and even 3 abreast. Then, a rider on a Percheron passed Cole so close he nearly barged into us. Dante saw that—and skittled right into the woods. When he felt he was safe, he stopped for Ellen.

Trailing the group was a couple of mounted rangers on a couple of humongous black draft horses. We felt so very, very tiny. Ellen said that Cole looked like a little colt with his mother. I felt like a Lilliputian!

I believe we have conquered our goal of getting to the trails beyond the big river. We still have a few more miles to go on them, but they shouldn’t be too tough. There are a couple of highway bridges to go under—I had trouble with Cole with them, but we managed all right with a lot of carrots. I’m sure Dante will be no worse. The trails beyond where we turned around are in better shape, according to Ellen. She walks her dog there all the time.

Hopefully, the trails will be repaired, someday, and so we can do more cantering. Now, we have 3 good options for our rides—depending on the weather, how much time we have and our moods. Dante is a superstar.

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