Monday, March 30, 2015
Icy Cold Weekend
Icy Cold Weekend
Soon as the weekend showed up, we plunged into the Arctic Circle. Friday evening was so cold, that I couldn’t talk Kevin into riding with me. The river was too high to cross, so I planned to do a few trips with Cole on the hill. He was one little bundle of energy. When I got to the bottom, flat part of the hill, I hesitated to trot at the usual spot. I wisely decided to shorten distance to the stopping spot. When I did ask him to trot, he made a huge buck, trotted 3-4 long strides and we were at the end. Turn, walk and repeat=buck , charge and halt. Oh boy, I had a stick of dynamite underneath me. It must have been the cold weather, the day off the day before and the fact that this was our first time out by ourselves this year—all put together. He was so sensitive to my legs, that I had to cue his as light as I could. Still, many times, he twitched like he was getting a jolt of electricity. I decided to use voice cues.
I kept up the routine—trot a short distance to the end, halt, turn on the haunches, walk, turn on the haunches and trot again. Gradually, I increased the distance. I got more bucks, but they turned into leaps and finally, it just got trot sprints. Cole was going back to his heritage—he is a descendant of the great Standardbred pacer, Dan Patch. When he is in the mood and turns on that trot, it is more exhilarating than a gallop. It isn’t merely a very fast trot. He will do a very fast trot, and then a switch will flick and he will transform. His hoof beats actually slow down and his stride lengthens—I so wish I could see it—and the trail just flies by.
Cruiser and Ranger both had very fast trots. They would go so fast that you would barely rise when you posted—there was so little time between beats. Cole’s trot is different because you actually post slower and it seems you are in the air for seconds at a time. Of course, that is physically impossible, but that is what it feels like. I’m not sure if Cole is faster than them or not, but he is certainly fun.
I wish we were able to cross the river that day. He clearly needed to fly down the trail and get it out of his system.
Once he started to behave, I decided it was time to go home, but to be safe, I opted to lead. When I got back to the barn, the indoor arena was empty, so I turned him loose and he ran and ran and ran.
Saturday and Sunday were even colder. I took Cole on the walking ride with Ranger on both days. We did 3 trips on the hill, and he was perfectly behaved.
Now, for Dante. Saturday, Ellen rode him in the arena and a little out on the driveway. We then took his saddle and bridle off and I led him to the hill. The first trip down, he did pretty good—and he was even better on the way up. When I turned him around to do it again, he wouldn’t stop circling until he was facing home, again. Evidently, he didn’t feel like walking down to the river, again. That didn’t stop me from insisting. We went through about 5 minutes struggling down 50 feet of trail. He found his circles were futile, since I made him keep circling back to the correct direction. He gave up and tried trotting to get away. Then, I had to circle him to get him back to a walk. We were getting nowhere. Finally, I decided to let him trot as long as he was going down the hill. Once he was, I would ask him to walk—then he would try again. Finally, he gave up and walked straight down the hill. He was perfect the rest of the way.
I was discouraged, but oddly, Ellen didn’t think he did that bad. Sunday, we did the same routine. Ellen led him both ways on the street, and that was great. I led him down to the river—no problem. I led him back up—no problem. I turned him around to do it again—still no problem. A little bit down the trail, he tried the trotting thing, but I just told him to walk and he did. The rest of the way down to the bottom, he was fine. It was a Dante miracle. He does this all the time. when we run into a snag and he misbehaves and I get discouraged—the next day, he is great. We went back home with smiles on our faces.
Let’s hope next weekend is warmer.