Thursday, April 28, 2016
Dante and Kevin
Dante and Kevin
Starry is having some hoof troubles, so Kevin wasn’t able to ride him with me. Ellen offered Dante, and Kevin couldn’t resist. He rode him on a trail ride a couple years ago, and he loved him.
Now, this was going to be an evening ride, and Dante hasn’t been on an evening ride in a few years. All of our other horses get very excited about going out in the evenings—particularly if they haven’t done it all winter. Well, it has been much longer for Dante than a single winter. To complicate matters, Kevin has had so little experience with him. I really didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t want to tell any of this to Kevin. After all, he has enough experience to handle a rambunctious Dante. Dante at his worst isn’t all that bad, so I kept my nervousness to myself. (Turns out Ellen was nervous, too.)
I helped Kevin tack Dante up, and brought him up to speed about all the places he has to click and treat Dante if he is good. The street when cars go by, when mounted, when his first feet step into the river…
We led the horses out of the barn, and Dante was so happy. He loves going on trail rides. He is like a dog that looks forward to his walks. Dante marched right down the driveway. Cole wanted to park out, bow, do silly walk, and Dante didn’t want to waste time. There was no waiting for us. I hurried Cole along, and we caught up with them by the time they reached the street.
Kevin mounted and decided the stirrups were too long. I told him we could fix them at the bottom of the hill. I didn’t want to mess around right by the street. The horses marched on down. At the bottom, I dismounted, parked Cole out and shortened one stirrup. Kevin felt better. I tried to lead Cole to the other side, and Dante kept skittling away. He is going through a phase of being afraid of Cole being too close. I don’t know what has brought this on, but it has happened before, and it passes.
I told Kevin he had to do the other stirrup. He figured it out and started on his way. I was still on the ground. Cole wanted to do his park/bow routine, again, and it took me a bit to get him focused and standing square so I could mount. By now, Dante was way up the trail. I started to trot to catch up. Dante heard us, and he thought it was a great idea. He took off at a trot with no brakes. He wanted to pass up the exit ramp and just trot back and forth at the bottom of the hill—one of his favorite games. I had Cole walk, and Kevin got control of Dante, but he still didn’t want to go down the exit ramp to the river. Cole marched by and stepped in the river while Kevin struggled.
The ride wasn’t starting quite the way I wanted, but I felt if I could just get them across the river and trotting that things would work out. Kevin finally got him walking down the bank. They stepped into the water, and I sighed a sigh of relief. We were on our way.
To make Kevin’s ride easy, he was going to be the leader. Dante loves to lead, but is a slow leader. Cole prefers to follow, but he likes to go fast. If I put him in the lead, he would speed along much faster than Dante wants to trot, and either Dante would get excited, or I would leave them far behind. We didn’t need that, so Dante was lead horse.
Once we crossed the river, I told Kevin to trot whenever he felt comfortable. Dante started trotting right away, so I was glad that Kevin was already comfortable with him. I started trotting after them, and then Kevin stopped Dante. Turns out that trotting was Dante’s idea, not Kevin’s. They walked for a little bit, and then Kevin asked him to trot. With all my instructions to Kevin, I forgot to tell him about the Lambert Leap. When Dante is excited, he takes a huge first step when he trots. It did give Kevin a surprise—and then I told him what it was and to not worry about it. He does it all the time—and then just trots along.
We trotted and trotted. I watched them the whole time, and not once did Kevin post—not once. What a difference for him after riding Starry’s Turbulence Trot. Cole was antsy and wanted to pass so he could stretch his legs. The weather was very chilly, which only adds to his exuberance. Occasionally, I would stop him when he got too close, let them get ahead and then let him trot a little faster to catch up.
We got to the next river crossing where we were going to turn around to go home all too soon. We turned, walked a bit and then did some more trotting. Dante went faster, here, since he was heading towards home, and still no posting from Kevin. We stopped and walked on to home. Kevin wanted to trot more, but I told him he couldn’t since Ellen wasn’t trotting closer to home yet. He really, really wanted to trot more, so when we got to our river crossing to go home, I suggested passing up home and trotting out to the street. It is only about 30 seconds of trotting, but when we do this, Cole gets to lead and I let him go as fast as he likes. Dante always follows politely.
Cole flew. He was holding in a lot of energy. (I loved it.) When we got to the end, Dante wasn’t as far back as he usually is. Kevin said it was the fastest he had gone the whole ride. I didn’t see them, but I bet that Kevin didn’t post.
We walked home, and it was happily uneventful. Kevin wanted to grade Dante with a A+ for the ride, but I reminded him of how he was at the bottom of the hill, so he adjusted it to an A. Still, that is pretty impressive for Dante’s first evening ride in a few years, on a cool night with a new rider—only a few weeks after Ellen started trail riding him this year.
Kevin has renamed Dante. He is now “Smooth as Butter.”