Saturday, July 1, 2017

A Quiet Month

A Quiet Month

Yes, there really isn’t much to write about, this month.  Shari is working different hours, so we haven’t ridden with Bella hardly at all.  Not that Shari needs our help, anymore.  Bella is doing awesome whether she is with us or by herself.

Starry--well, he is Starry.  He is still having a little trouble passing other horses.  Some days, he is great--and other days he is terrible.  It frustrates Kevin so much!  It all depends on who he is riding with.  The biggest problem for Kevin is riding with Dante.  Starry has a Quarter Horse friend, Archie, that he has been riding a lot with, and he does pretty good being a lead horse with him, but if Dante is around, it is a whole different story.

One day, he was riding with just me and Cole.  We were heading home, and Starry refused to lead.  I suggested turning him away from home and going down the trail a little ways, turning back and then asking Starry to pass Cole.  After three attempts, it worked.  We tried later on, and it worked in one attempt.  Unfortunately, we haven’t had much opportunity to try that solution, since.  We don’t think it will help much if we were riding away from home, though.  Then, Starry would be punished by turning around and going towards home--and he may not think that is a punishment.

Cole has had some difficulty on solo rides.  The source of the problem is simply that I don’t ride by myself much, anymore.  I have managed it about once a week, this month.  Cole always has a tendency to get excited and just want to run.  We call them “Cole Bursts.”  Usually, I can get him to stop in a few strides, but lately, on solo rides, he has been bolting and fighting me when I ask him to stop.  The first ride, he did it just once, but it was a very short ride.  I didn’t think much of it.  The next ride, he bolted three times!  That is when I knew I had a problem.  

After that, when I rode by myself, I stayed aware of his excitement level.  Whenever he seemed to get over enthusiastic about going fast, I either intermixed walk/trot transitions or simply walked until he settled down.  Since then, he has improved.  The last time I took him on a ride by himself, there were no “Cole Bursts” at all, and we did plenty of fast trotting and a little cantering.

Recently, I was on a ride with Ellen.  We were planning to cross the second river and go further, but the water was on the high and muddy side.  We would have had to ride across the ford.  We didn’t really feel like dealing with traffic, that day, so Ellen suggested heading towards home, turning around and doing the last section of the trail, again.  

It is a fine section of trail that we call “The Canter Stretch,” because we often canter there.  We had just trotted it with Dante in the lead. That meant that it was a slower, controlled trot.  Ellen said Dante was going to be very upset about doing the trail, again.  We have done this in the past, and Dante seems to think it is a dumb idea.  Not a surprise, since most horses would agree.

That is not the case with Cole, oddly, at all.  I have done this many times--usually by myself--when I don’t feel like crossing the ford on my evening rides when there is so much more traffic.  He seems to really, really enjoy it.

I suggested that we let Cole lead.  I would just do a fast trot.  Ellen could canter if she likes.

We turned.  Dante made the turn very, very slow.  Cole seemed eager.  I asked her if she was ready, and she said she was.  I then asked Cole to walk.

Cole was so happy that we were doing the trail again--I got a squeal and a “Cole Burst;” big time!  He was off like a rocket.  Cole is truly the fastest horse I have ever ridden.  I know there are faster horses out there, but for a tiny horse, Cole can simply fly!

But that is not what I wanted!  I struggled to slow him down.  In my head, I wasn’t worried about myself.  I was worried about Ellen.  I pictured Dante, the horse that is afraid of any sudden movement made by another horse, spooking and running into the woods, spinning and running towards home, bucking and dashing off after Cole…

After about a two hundred feet, I got Cole to trot and shortly after that, he stopped.  I looked back--and burst out laughing!  It was the funniest thing I ever saw.  Instead of any of my scenarios that were flashing through my head, there was Dante--frozen in place!  He didn’t move a muscle.  He thought it was a dumb idea, and didn’t want to go at all!

As I was laughing, Ellen got him to move, and we tried, again.  This time, Cole trotted very, very fast and Dante cantered behind us.  Once she asked him to canter, he decided it wasn’t such a bad idea, after all.

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