Thursday, September 22, 2016
Ellen and I have spent the whole summer riding with Shari and her National Show Horse, Bella. When we started, Shari was a bit nervous--having had a bad incident last summer where Bella fell causing Shari to break her shoulder. Bella, being a very spirited horse, offered many “challenges,” but the rides kept getting better and better. We watched as both of them became more confident.
This month, Shari entered her in a horse show for the first time in a year. She promised her uncle she would go, but later regretted it because she would miss a trail ride, but she didn’t want to disappoint her uncle.
Turns out, she didn’t miss a trail ride that day because the river was too high to cross. Ellen and I just rode the hill that morning. She rode to the show ring along the street. Bella behaved great on the road.
Bella was very excited when she arrived at the show ring. Shari decided to just ride her on the trail that circles the show grounds at a walk--around and around--so she could take in all the sights and sounds. I know some people would have lounged their horses to exhaustion before entering the show ring--I have seen them do that, but Shari didn’t want an exhausted horse--she wanted a relaxed horse.
Her method worked. When it was time to go into the show ring, Bella was ready for it. They entered two classes. The whole time in the class, Shari was talking to Bella and telling her what a good girl she was--just like she does on the trail--and Bella was good. She won a second in equitation and probably would have placed in pleasure, but the judge told Shari he saw her break gait in it.
This is the horse that spent the whole summer--not schooling in the arena, but riding out on the trail with us. We were so proud of the both of them.
The next weekend, it was back to trail riding. Saturday rained buckets right when we should have been riding. Ellen rode Dante in the arena and then the rain cleared up, so I saddled Cole and we rode the loop at the barn. That way, if it started raining again, we could get back to the barn quickly. It didn't rain, fortunately, but we didn’t go on a trail ride.
On Sunday, Ellen and I were running late. Kevin left with Brenda before us. Shari rides to our barn to meet us, but we have agreed that if we didn’t see her by a specific time to just head out and she would know she should go directly on the trail to catch up with us. She had called that morning, so we knew she was going to ride with us, so we headed out to meet her.
Shari went out to catch up with us. Since it rained the day before, she could see two sets of fresh hoofprints going down the hill, crossing the river and going to the right on the trail. Shari transformed into the Lone Ranger’s companion, Tonto. She was going to track us down and catch up with us.
They trotted a lot, and when the trail was straight and clear, they cantered. They were on a mission.
In the meantime, Ellen and I were moving at a brisk pace, ourselves.
Shari crossed the next river and trotted up to the bottom of a short steep hill and called up it to us. She has a great voice. There was no answer. She hadn’t caught up with us, yet.
Determined to find us--still following the tracks--Bella and Shari traveled swiftly. Ellen and I continued to do the same.
And then Shari saw two horses in the distance--Kevin and Brenda. She was tracking the wrong horses. We were following behind her. She rode with them, and on their way back, we found them. We asked Shari to leave them and ride with us, and she did. Her mission was completed, at last.
We all got a good laugh. The rest of the ride was wonderful. Bella behaved like a rock star--oh, she did spook at a small branch on the trail, but we are used to that.
I was curious, so I asked Shari how Bella was when she is in season. In all the rides we have been on with her, she hasn’t shown any signs of marishnesss. She told us that she can be quite marish and will really flirt with the boys. On days when she is crabby, Shari likes to get her out and exercise her and that helps.
The next evening, I was walking Ranger on the loop. Shari drove over and came to talk to me. She wanted to tell me that when she got Bella back home the day before, she let her out with a couple geldings--and she was in season! So, all along on the ride, she had raging hormones and yet she acted like a perfect lady. Now, that’s a good horse.
Thursday, September 8, 2016
We have been riding with Shari and her lovely Bella all summer. I don’t think a weekend has gone by that we haven’t ridden at least once, We have seen such a transformation--it brings great satisfaction.
She is, by nature, a very spirited horse, and nothing will change that. No one wants that to change--that is just Bella. We never wanted her nature to change--just some of her behaviours.
She spooked a lot in the beginning. The difference now is how fast she forgets whatever bothered her and caused her to spook. Many times, we don’t know what makes her jump, but now as Cole and I trot behind, we watch her jump--and then she just keeps on going her merry way.
She used to get very nervous with traffic and bikes. Remember that scary ride across the ford when the bike scared her? Now, she has been just watching the bikes as they go past. There is no panic or even nervousness.
She used to be very strong on Shari’s hands--now Shari is riding with a loose rein much of the time. Her head carriage is higher than most horses because she is a National Show Horse, but her neck is now relaxed.
She barely dances around anymore. We can trot towards home with Bella in the lead, and she doesn’t race. Instead, she goes at a speed that even poky Dante is happy to match on the way home.
Bella loves riding with her boys. Shari keeps her horse down the street from us, and when she rides over to our barn, Bella gets so excited! She also seems to truly enjoy herself out on the trail.
Shari also rides her by herself, and they have been having wonderful rides together. All three of us are so proud of Bella. It has been a team effort. Shari played the hardest part. She had to ride Bella through all her shenanigans, but she needed someone to do it with.
Ellen and I--well we understood. Bella acted a lot like Cruiser did in his younger days--and he turned out to be one of the best horses ever. We did whatever we could to help Bella succeed. We knew when to ride quietly and when we could increase the speed. We also understood that spirited horses like Bella need to move out on the trail. Trotting can do wonders with a hyper horse. Shari needed riding companions who were willing to get out and trot--and Ellen and I just love trotting! Shari needed companions were willing to ride out on the trail regularly, too. She certainly found the right people with us!
We expected Bella to improve with time, but that doesn’t take away the satisfaction of seeing it with our own eyes.