Monday, December 28, 2015

A Christmas Ride

A Christmas Ride

Ellen and I met out at the barn on Christmas morning.  It is a tradition with us to ride on Christmas morning—but then again, it is a tradition for us to ride on together on all holidays if we are both not working—actually, that includes weekends, too.  I guess riding on Christmas isn’t such a big deal, after all.

Going on a long trail ride on Christmas morning is special, though.  There are a lot of Christmas mornings that we have extreme cold, rain, ice, snow storms or can’t cross the river.  Even if we can get on the trail and across the river, it is usually very cold, so we go for a short ride.  This year was an exception.  With the temps’ in the 40’s, we were able to go for a lovely, longer ride.

There was only one problem.  The river was a little high.  Now, it was crossable.  I crossed just the day before with Kevin.  (Ellen was working.)  It was pretty high then, but we had no problems.  I knew it would only be lower, and she could do it, but since we haven’t had much rain in months, she was out of practice and was nervous about riding Dante across.

She had an ingenious idea—we would switch horses!  She would ride Cole Train and I would ride Dante.  (Why she felt braver riding a pony across when her own horse is a couple inches taller and much more sturdy doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but I didn’t question it—it meant we would be able to go on a trail ride.)

We rode down to the river, slowly.  Cole wanted clicks from Ellen, so he started trialing behaviors.  He was doing silly walk and going sideways.  I saw him overdo the sideways and jackknife once.  I just kept plodding with Dante.

When we made it to the river, both horses didn’t really want to cross.  They each wanted the other horse to go first.  Cole finally stepped in, and Dante slowly followed.  It really wasn’t very high—up to the top of Cole’s knees.

Once across, Dante and I had a disagreement.  He wanted to go to the left.  He always prefers to go that direction.  We wanted to go to the right.  It is a nicer ride if you don’t want to go more than an hour and a half.  I circled him and pointed him the direction we wanted to go. 

I decided to go first so that Cole could follow slowly behind and not worry Ellen with any excessive speed.  She certainly had nothing to worry about.  Cole decided to take advantage of the situation.  He began trialing, again.  He would stop and tell her he needed a treat—and she would give him one!  Well, that opened the Pandora ’s Box.  He kept stopping, and I think she kept treating.  I don’t really know exactly what was going on.  We kept trotting and they were long out of sight.  At times, I stopped and let them catch up.  Dante’s favorite trot is much slower than Cole’s favorite trot, so this was a huge switch from normal.  Usually, I am waiting for Dante because Cole goes faster.  Now, I was waiting for Cole—simply unheard of.

We got to a point where we hadn’t seen them in a couple minutes, and Dante realized what was going on—and started to cry!  He has the most horrible voice.  We just stood there and waited.  Cole finally woke up and trotted up to us.

By this time, Kevin caught up on Starry.  The more the merrier on this Christmas morning.

We went down a little hill and around a corner—and got to the spot that we usually canter—we call it the canter stretch.  I certainly didn’t want to put Ellen through that.  Cole, if he is in the mood, will canter very, very fast.  I suppose I should call it a gallop.  It is my fault.  I love it and encourage him.  It doesn’t bother Starry or Dante when we get too far ahead.  They will go a little faster, but they get left in the dust.  We will stop and wait for them to catch up.  Any other time, he canters normal—but not on the canter stretch.  Dante goes a good, fast speed, but it is still a rational canter.  Ellen isn’t used to Cole’s gallop, so it was best just to trot.

Since all three horses would have preferred to canter, we trotted fast, and it was fun.  Ellen and I both love a fast trot.  We stopped at the next river crossing.  Since the river is always higher there, we decided to cross on the ford.  Since Ellen likes to lead across it, we dismounted and switched horses.  After that, it was a normal ride.

Shortly after, Kevin turned back.  He had less time than us because he had a Christmas event with his family.  Our family knows better than to schedule anything that would interfere with our riding.

On the way home, we once again switched horses to recross the river.  Cole is not happy about that river bank because it has gotten very muddy at the bottom and some of the bank has washed away.  He has to step down into the mud.  Dante just slides down the edge of the washed out area into the mud.  It doesn’t bother him at all.  We were across the river waiting on the other side, and Cole was still trying to find a way to avoid getting his feet in the mud.  Ellen patiently worked with him to get him to go down the bank into the water successfully.

Once they got across, we both opted to dismount and lead up the hill.  We were a little chilly.  On the faster parts of the ride, we got pretty sweaty.  As we walked home to cool the horses down, our sweatiness cooled us too much.  Leading up the hill is a perfect solution to warm up.  It is something we do often.  We switched back to our proper horses.

I had fun when I was riding Dante , and Ellen felt the same on Cole.  We now have a way that we can cross when the river is a little too high for Ellen’s comfort, yet it is safe to cross.  She could ride the little horse.  


Susan Marko said...

How about a photo of Dante and Cole face to face so we can compare their size?

Judi Daly said...

My sister of read your comment because she just emailed me to say we should do it. Stay tuned. We will take some pictures of them together.

TeresaA said...

I had big plans to ride on Christmas day - it's one of my favourite things. But I had the flu this year. I'm glad you were able to go and I got to 'ride along' with your post. :)

achieve1dream said...

Cole's antics crack me up!!!!!! I wonder if it might be that he keeps her so occupied with little things like that so she can't think about the crossing and doesn't have time to remember that big slip that scared her. With Dante just plodding along her brain gets busy overthinking it, but Cole distracts her. I obviously don't know for sure, but knowing how my anxious brain works I thought it might be a possibility. Whatever the reason I'm glad you guys worked out a way to cross! I wish I could have gone on a Christmas trail ride with you guys. Sounds like so much fun!! I wasn't really able to get into the holiday spirit for Christmas. It just kind of slipped right by me. Maybe I can this year. :)