Thursday, May 25, 2017
Starry and Bugs
Starry and Bugs
I met Kevin out at the barn on a rainy day. It wasn’t raining, and according to the radar, there was a break in the action. If we went right out on a ride, we would be able to ride during a dry window.
Kevin was hesitant. First, he was worried he would get caught in the rain. Earlier in the day, he went jogging, and just as he was turning around to head towards home, it began to rain. He ended up getting soaked, and he wasn’t looking forward to being drenched again.
I assured him that we would stay dry. His other worry was bugs. Often, after it rains, the mosquitoes come out in droves--and Starry is so sensitive. They make him crazy, and he will act up. I suggested we go towards the Lagoon, which is a shorter ride and, where there are always less bugs. Since I was wearing a sweatshirt and a sweat jacket, I felt it was probably too cold for them, anyway. I didn’t even put bug spray on Cole.
Kevin loaded up Starry with spray and put his mask on. We headed down the trail. When Starry got to the bottom of the hill, he took off at a fast trot. I heard Kevin say something about “no brakes.” I was still going down the hill, and Cole saw Starry moving fast--and he decided to join him. I didn't have any brakes, either. (Usually, Cole will tolerate Starry doing things like this, so I figured he must be in “a mood.”
I haven’t ridden Cole to the Lagoon since last year, due to all sorts of reasons. Ellen and I plan to go on longer rides in that direction, so I figured that it would be good to get Cole there at least once before Ellen attempts it. It is a bit of a tricky trail, because it goes parallel to the street and the river. We just have a stip of trail with grass on each side between them. To make matters worse, there isn't a simple river bank alongside the trail. It is a 10 foot wall that drops down the the river.
It was one of those noisy days. With all the rain, the cars were very loud on the wet street and the planes were flying low. We ride quite close to the airport, and the planes are so loud that you can’t talk when one flies overhead. Today was really bad.
We arrived at the Lagoon. The first part of the trail actually has trees and shrubs along both sides. The rain had left lots of puddles, so Kevin was stopping to walk through them. That was great--he had brakes! Cole can go through puddles, but he prefers to tiptoe around them, so we did. At the last big puddle, Kevin just kept trotting. We trotted through it, and Cole’s belly got splashed. I had a sudden acceleration. He started to lean into the bit and then his head got lower than I like. If his head gets too low, he is known to toss in a buck.
I asked Kevin to stop, and he did. I pulled Cole back together, and we took of trotting, again.
We were now in the open area, and Starry picked up the speed. Cole could keep up, but I could feel the momentum building in his hindquarters. He then started pulling his head down, again. I thought a reset would help. I stopped him, and then asked him to trot, again. Unfortunately, Kevin didn't know we stopped, and he moved further away from us. Maybe stopping wasn’t a very good idea. Cole once again started to build up his excitement. Kevin stopped to walk through a rough patch of trail, and I was able to catch up. Before I had a moment to relax, he was off, again. My white knuckles reappeared.
We reached another spot that we typically stop to go down a gravelly slope. I caught up, again. Somehow, I ended up in the lead, and we trotted down to the end of the trail.
As soon as we turned around, Starry got bugs in his head. There were no bugs around us, but Starry is so phobic, that he acted like there was. He started swishing and belly kicking--and then he took off at a fast trot.
Cole thought he had a great idea--and took off after him. By now, I had had enough. I bent his head towards the left to slow him down, and though he fought at first, he did finally come down to a walk. Starry was a different story. They trotted out of sight.
That really got Cole upset. He tried to trot up, but I insisted he just walk. We compromised and walked very fast. As soon as we got around the corner, we could see Starry up a ways. Kevin finally got him to walk.
Gradually, we got closer to him, and I guess Starry realized there weren’t any bugs, after all. He relaxed and walked like a gentleman. He still tossed his head about at the imaginary bugs, but we made it all the way home without incident.
If it wasn’t his first time over there for the year, Cole would have been fine. If Starry wasn’t plagued by bugs and and acted like his usual self, Cole would have been fine, also. But a crazy Starry on a different trail? Well, it wasn’t much worse than I expected--and much better than I expected on the way home.
One thing I know for sure, it will be much easier to ride that trail with Dante!