Monday, April 18, 2016

Dante is Back Where He Belongs

Dante is Back Where He Belongs 

It was time for Ellen to take Dante on a trail ride for the first time of the year.  I had taken him out for a fantastic ride on Easter Sunday, but after that, the weather got cold, rainy and even snowy—preventing her from riding him on the trail.

Finally, we got perfect weather combined with a low river.  It was time. 

Ellen has anxiety issues, and although Dante is a tremendously well-behaved horse, she worries that things will go wrong.  It isn’t an easy thing for her to just saddle up and trot down the trail.  She needs to psych herself into doing it.  It takes a lot of courage for her, and I give her credit for doing it.

The logical part of her head knew that Dante should be quite good on the ride.  The emotional side didn’t agree.  We kid ourselves if we think the logical side rules over the emotional side of our brain.  If it did, we would all be driving small, economical cars and eating a healthy diet.  In fact, if we were logical, we wouldn’t even own these large, unpredictable and very expensive animals.

Ellen came up with a wonderful idea to trick the emotional side of her brain.  (If her emotional side could trick her logical side—why couldn’t it work the other way, too?)  She just pretended winter never happened—that she never took a break from riding him—that he would be as good as he was last December when she stopped trail riding—because she never stopped trail riding him. 

I thought the idea was brilliant.

The two places the Ellen is the most nervous is leading on the street and crossing the river.  I was willing to do both for her—letting her have Cole—but I didn’t offer it.  If she needed the help, I would step in, but I wanted to see if she could do it on her own.

She did.  She tricked her brain into believing Dante would be good—because he was last year—and he was.  He was good the whole ride.  And it was no fluke.  He repeated the performance the next day.  Dante is an awesome horse, and my sister is so brave.

Dante loves the trail.  He was very excited and enthusiastic, but that didn’t translate into hyper behavior like Cole (Cole bursts), racing like Ranger would have, spooking like Cruiser definitely would have or bucking like little Mingo.  No, it just meant that he walked a little faster and trotted a little faster.  He tossed his head around and took a few large trot transitions.  (We call them Lambert Leaps.)  He was just as good as Starry—but smoother.  I call him the Dante Dream Horse.

Ellen enjoyed every minute of it.  On the second day, we did more trotting, including trotting towards home, and she did a little cantering, too.

I was happy to be able to ride on the trail with Ellen, again.  Kevin was banished from the rides because Starry can complicate things.  It works out all right because I can ride with Kevin in the evenings.

I can’t wait to ride with her next weekend…

1 comment:

achieve1dream said...

That is such a great idea!!! Tell her thanks for the idea. I'm going to try it too, since I have the same kind of anxiety that she does. Thanks for sharing it. I'm so glad she's back to trail riding and having fun. Dante really is a very good boy.