Monday, May 11, 2015
Dante’s First Solo Ride of the Year
I had the opportunity to take Dante on a solo ride last week. It is the one part of his education that is really lacking. Dante and Cole are such a wonderful duo together, Ellen has no reason to take him alone. She could take him on solo rides when I’m not around, but she chooses to take Ranger instead. She will then work with Dante in the arena and on the property.
It was a very warm evening, and the mosquitoes decided to emerge from their winter hibernation. I didn’t put any bug spray on him because I didn’t know they would be so bad. Throughout the entire ride, if we were at a walk, he was tossing his head around. Of course, that is forgivable.
He started crying on the way down the hill. When we got to the bottom, he was reluctant to go down the river bank, but once I got him pointed in the right direction, he was fine. We crossed the river and started trotting. He moved a little faster than I remember from the past, and that was great. Whenever we slowed down to a walk, he started tossing his head and neighing.
We arrived at a corner of the trail. Across the street is a parking lot, and there was a truck in the driveway with a yellow flashing light. I thought I would let Dante stop and look over at it. He neighed, and I instantly heard an answering neigh. I didn’t see any horses over there—horses aren’t even allowed there. He neighed again—and was answered right away, again. He got very upset about it—there was a horse over there, and he wanted to go see it. I got suspicious. Once again he neighed—and I was right—he was hearing his echo.
Well, I couldn’t allow Dante to talk to himself all evening, and besides, he was getting even more agitated. I urged him around the corner and down a little slope. He was wired—I could feel the tension in his body. He continued neighing with only a few seconds between each one. I pondered—is it better to keep him walkng and hve him settle down or ask him to trot and hope it distracts him? After walking a couple minutes and feeling no improvement, I decided to try the trot. It worked. He moved out at a nice speed, but he quieted down and was no longer frantic. That was a relief.
When we got to the next river crossing, I turned him around and headed home. It was an extremely hot evening for May, and since he still has some winter coat left, I opted to walk home. He did do some crying, but much less now that he was on the way home. At one point, he started to trot, and when I asked him to go back to a walk, he ignored me. I gently brought him into a small circle, stepped a few strides at a walk going away from home, stopped, turned him around and started walking back towards home. He didn’t try it anymore.
The rest of the way was uneventful. I won’t have many more opportunities to take him on solo rides once MerryLegs shows up, but if I did, I’m certain it would take only one or two more rides and he will settle down. That seems to be the pattern with him.