Monday, August 8, 2016

A Long Ride

A Long Ride

Ellen, Shari and I have been planning to go on a long ride for a while, but the weather hasn't been cooperating.  Finally, the weather was great and the river was down.  It was time.

Neither one of our horses have gone over to these trails in two years.  Ellen was very nervous.  Her anxieties were focused on two different area--a ford and the “big” river crossing.

We were going to cross one river by crossing the ford which we will be sharing with traffic--a lot of traffic.  There is a busy intersection to negotiate on the other side, too.  The river crossing itself is filled with large, jagged rocks that we wanted to avoid.

The “big” river crossing is about 3 times wider than any other crossing.  

The rest of the ride is easy.  In fact, once we cross the river, the trails are flat and away from traffic with no intersections for a few miles.  

Before we even got to the tricky ford, we had a scary incident.  As Shari was passing the big hill leading up to the show ring trails, some kids came running down it--scaring Bella.  We watched Bella shoot off like a rocket.  Shari got her back under control, and we explained to the kids that that was a very bad hill to run down--as there are times there are horses on it.

Right after that, we crossed the street and headed for the ford.  Since it was still early in the morning, the traffic wasn’t bad.  Ellen led and Shari and I rode across.  The horses waited quietly at the light, we crossed the street and got back on the trail.

Just a couple minutes later, we reached the big river.  I was shocked to see the small, shale island in the center was now a very large shale island.  Then, I saw that most of the bottom of the river was no longer slippery, uneven slate.  It now had a dirt bottom.  The deep areas were filled in.  The river crossing was now the easiest I have ever experienced on horseback!

It went without a hitch.  We were on the other side before we knew it.  No stress involved.

We had been working with Bella on allowing Cole to lead at a trot the day before when we rode up at the show ring trails with great success, but we thought that she would naturally be a little too excited on the new trails for that.  We put her in the lead.  Cole followed and Dante trailed at the end.  We did some great trotting, though we had to stop periodically for Dante to catch up.  He was too busy looking around to trot fast.

After a while, Cole started to get more and more wound up.  I had to keep reminding him to slow down to stay behind Bella.  Twice, he got the better of me and took off at a canter to pass her.  This is actually very unusual for Cole to try to pass, so it gives you an idea how excited he was.  After the second time, I suggested walking for a while so he could settle down.  It worked.  When we trotted, again, he was more comfortable with just following.

Due to the very excited horses, I figured we would have to walk most of the way home, so I suggested turning around about a mile before the end of the trail at the Brookpark bridge.  Everyone thought that was a great idea.  Cole walked very, very fast.  Bella was very excited to be heading home, too.  Eventually, we found Kevin on Starry coming out to meet us.

As we walked and talked on the way home, a group of riders passed us.  For some reason, even though they were only walking, that got Bella very hyper and she was prancing to catch up with the horses ahead.

We overtook the horses at the big river.  To make the crossing more chaotic, there was a family with a baby stroller and 3 tiny kids waist deep in the water; splashing.  Kevin told them to stop the splashing and the parents did, too.  They paused and then started wading for the shore.  None of the horses seemed bothered by these things. They just wanted to go home.  We had no trouble with the crossing.

Next came the bad intersection and ford.  I said that I was dismounting just because i wanted to stretch my legs.  Ellen always leads across the ford.  Kevin and Shari decided to lead, too.

Once the traffic let up, we crossed the first road and positioned ourselves at the light to cross the second one.  I was in the lead with Cole.  No sooner did I get his whole body on the ford, then I heard Ellen call out, “There’s a horse trailer.”  The trailer would be passing us on the narrow ford.  I really wasn’t worried much about Cole or Starry.  I just wasn’t sure how Bella and Dante would react.

I stopped, turned to face Cole and he automatically parked out.  I then glanced back to see the other horses lined behind him standing like statues.  The trailer passed us up and now was the hard part--getting Cole to walk, again.  I asked him to walk, and he started to bow--right there on the ford.  He wanted a treat.  I clicked for the bow--just so I could get him going, again.  We made it to the other side with no problems at all.  

We all mounted and rode home in triumph.  Cole did have a bad spook at a motorcycle that wasn’t close to us but was really loud.  The truth is, he had just been walking too long.  If he walks a lot, little things will set him off.  Mingo was the same way, so I kinda expect it.

The ride was close to 3 hours, and we were all pleased with it.  Ellen said she will no longer worry about the “big” river crossing, since it has improved so dramatically.  With only the ford to negotiate, I don’t think it will be that hard to convince her to go this way more often.

Once the horses settle down on the trail, we will be able to go farther because we will be able to trot towards home.  

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