Friday, July 29, 2011

Scary River

We had another pretty big flood this month. When the water went down enough to cross, we found a large log partially blocking the river bank on the far side, a faster current and funny ripples that weren’t there before. Either the slate bottom got torn up or some big rocks were moved in. It was hard to tell because the water was still muddy.

Kevin tried to go on a ride on his own, and Starry refused to cross. A few days later, he wanted to ride with me to help get Starry to the other side. I took Cruiser and I am glad to say that Cruiser wasn’t worried about the changes at all. The only problem we had with him was he wanted to drink and drink. We just wanted to get Starry across before he thought too much about what we were doing. Eventually, Cruiser decided to cooperate and we made it!

On the way home, Cruiser stepped on what I correctly guessed was a large, flat piece of shale about 6 inches high. He put his hoof on it, started to shift his weight to step up, paused, did it again, paused, and when I asked him to move to the side of the rock, he happily took his hoof off and put it next to the shale. It is so nice to have a horse that thinks before acting.

The next morning, Ellen tried to cross Ranger, and he refused. It looked too funny to him. They worked out a compromise—once he got all 4 hooves in the water, she turned him around and they gave up on the river.

Well, that put me in a tough spot. The following evening, my niece was supposed to ride with me, and she rides Ranger. I talked it over with Ellen, and we decided that I would ride Ranger across and then we would switch horses on the other side. We knew that Cruiser would cross, and that should help Ranger.

I’m glad to say that the water was lower, and now we could see all the large hunks of shale that were washed down; causing the funny ripples. The water was still traveling faster that it used to. I told my niece to start down the river bank to the water. Ranger refused to go first. Cruiser thought Ranger had the right idea—and who was that on his back, anyway, and why did he have to listen to her?

Poor Ranger had to take the lead. I clicked him halfway down the bank and gave him a carrot. That put him in a much better mood. I clicked him when he stepped into the water, too. He stopped and I gave him another carrot. He was nervous. Cruiser wasn’t in the lead like he was supposed to be. I asked Ranger to walk, and he started wading through the water. I clicked and clicked and clicked, but he was so uptight that he didn’t stop! When we got to the other side, I he finally stopped for a click. I hopped off and gave him the handful of carrots he should have gotten if he had stopped while I was clicking. Cruiser finally made it over, and we switched horses and enjoyed the rest of our ride.

The only other difficulty we had was on the way home. I forgot to tell my niece to be careful about the log on the river bank that initially scared Range. I was in the lead and heard a noise. It was Ranger scurrying down the river bank and into the water to get away from the log. No harm done, and it was a good experience for my niece to ride a nervous horse for a few seconds. He calmed down and was fine the rest of the way home.

Soon, Ranger will cross the water as reliable as he used to be. By then, the log will be gone and Kevin will have cleaned the rocks out of the water.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Rain and heat

I am listening to the thunder, and I checked the radar--my weekend plans have just turned soggy.  There will be no crossing the river tonight, and I don't think we will be crossing tomorrow, either.  If it isn't raining this evening, I will be riding up and down the hill.  Same with tomorrow morning.  Alas, this is why I don't like July.  It seems it is either unbearably hot and/or the T-storms raise the river.

The outdoor arena will be too wet.  The indoor arena isn't watered this time of year, so it will be very hot and dusty.

Hopefully, Sunday will work out.

I'm sure we will find fun things to do, though, but I love those trail rides...

Thursday, July 21, 2011

I think my niece is falling in love.

I think my niece is falling in love. Last night, she came out for her ride. Since the river was too high to cross, we rode Ranger and Cruiser on the hill. We worked on trotting on the bottom, flat section so she could practice posting. Since she learned most of her riding on Mingo, she never needed to post. He was as smooth as a Cadillac. She loved Mingo, and she still talks about how she misses him. They were 2 peas in a pod. I have never seen a person and a horse fit together so well as my older niece and little Ming.

After our ride, I got her started on watering the 38 horses. With the intense heat, they have been drinking so much. I rode Cole in the indoor arena since the outdoor was still muddy and there was a horse turned out in it. We didn’t do much that was exerting due to the heat and dust. We did walking, bends, leg yielding and sidepassing. Then I through in some walk/trot transitions, some trotting/bending and I was clicking anything that was good. Once he started to do his “show trot” consistently, I decided it was time to work on leg yields at a trot. I only did this once before back in April, so it was like starting from scratch. After about 5 minutes, maybe less, I was getting about a step and a half, and that made me pretty happy. I think he knew what I wanted and was just trying to coordinate it. I was nearly out of carrots for clicking, so I called my niece in so she could ride him a little.

At first, Cole only wanted to follow me, but gradually, he started to listen to her, instead. She is a very gentle rider, and some of the horses take advantage of it, but Cole only did that once—when he wanted to go look in one of the barns and she didn’t want him to. I had to help her get him unstuck. Once she got comfortable, I asked her if she wanted to try a trot. Since she isn’t real consistent with posting, I knew it might be a problem, but if he did his slow, ordinary trot, she should be able to sit it.

I explained that with Cole, unlike our other horses, you squeeze and hold your legs until he starts to trot—and then you release. The other horses will trot with a tap of the heels. I thought the squeeze and hold would be a better approach with him, so that’s how I trained him.

In the past, when I have allowed other people to ride Cole, he has been very difficult to get to trot. Maybe because I had been working him for the previous half hour and he was very responsive to me, he was for her, too. He went right into the trot—and after a few steps—went into his show trot! He collected himself, rounded up and turned on the impulsion. My poor niece! She didn’t know how to sit that! His show trot isn’t fast, but it has so much impulsion that he will throw you right out of the saddle. It takes a person with a strong sitting trot (me) to sit it.

To rescue her, and reward him, I clicked him and treated. He has never offered his show trot with anyone else besides me. She trotted him twice and then I was out of carrots.

I sent her back to watering, and I walked him outside. I wanted to put him in his stall, but my boyfriend had Cruiser in it so he could clean Cruise’s stall. I put him in the crossties, unsaddled him and suddenly—there was my niece. I gave him to her and she led him around the arena.

When his stall was ready, she brought him back and we went to hay the horses. When we were done, I had her sponge off Cole while I cleaned up. What I saw was her relaxing and enjoying herself in a way that she hadn’t been with Ranger this summer or with Starry the year before. I joked with her and said it was because he was black like Mingo. She just smiled and said, “I like Cole.” She may be falling in love…

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


We got about 4 inches of rain at my house on Monday in 2 storms.  The first storm was just over our suburb, and we ended up with 3 huge limbs down that will need a chainsaw to clean up.  That was plenty rain for my garden.  I didn't need the second storm that flooded northeast Ohio, overnight.  It was bad--setting a record for single day rainfall. 

Our boarding stables was severely flooded, and of course, the river flooded, too.  My boyfriend hiked the trails to see the damage, and the hill that the park just repaired--is wrecked.  I am taking my niece out to ride, tonight, but I am sure we still won't be able to cross the river.  Just as well, as it is going up into the 90s--and the humidty is terrible. 

At least I won't have to water my garden for a while...I picked my first green beans yesterday.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Working on a Dream Trot

I have been trotting Cole Train a lot on our solo rides, and he is doing much better. Sometimes he gets a bit excited and goes really, really fast, but he is no longer breaking into a canter.

It was time to work on trotting with other horses. Ellen and I did have a few training rides last fall before the big freeze shut us down, so we had a starting point.

On the day we wanted to introduce dual trotting, it rained and the river was too high to cross. That only gave us the hill to work on. At the bottom of the hill, before we cross the river, there is a nice flat, albeit, short section of trail. I had spent some time trotting Cole on it by himself, and he understood stopping at the end.

Ellen had the brilliant idea of teaching him to heel to Ranger—just like I taught him to heel to me. We decided that we would not allow Cole to go beyond Ellen’s leg. We first tried it at a walk—clicking when he arrived to the spot and stayed there for a few moments. (Ranger was clicked and treated, too.) Then we increased the length. After 4-5 tries, we tried it at a trot. It worked like magic. We practiced it many times for about 10 minutes, and gradually increased the length of trotting.

The next day, we were able to cross the river and work where we had more trail. The only time we had trouble was when Ranger would slow down, and Cole didn’t adjust his speed and passed him up. No one would get clicked, and I would turn Cole right around and do it again. Ellen figured out that she needed to keep Ranger at a steady speed for us to be successful, and it worked. We did some parts of the trail twice for practice.

We went through a lot of carrot pieces, but we had such fantastic success. My greatest challenge with Cruiser for all these years, is to keep him behind another horse when we trot or canter. He loves to be in the lead. Of course, so does Ranger. Ranger even made a game of slowing down so Cruiser would start to pass—and then he would speed up himself to race. Eventually, Ranger learned that when Cruiser passed, we would be stopping, soon, and turned that into a game, too. Now if we trotted with Cruise in the front and Ranger following, often Ranger was worse than Cruiser. It’s tough when both horses want to lead.

The next time we were able to ride together, we had our youngest niece on Ranger. Ellen rode Cruiser. Of course, I was on Cole. We tried to trot a couple times, but Ranger stopped when Cole got close to him; anticipating a click.

Then following day, Ellen and I took them up to our very favorite trails by the show ring. We had another fruitful ride. The following weekend, we took them up there, and we had a new development. Cole didn’t trot up to Ranger’s side, but seemed content to follow about 10 feet behind. This was fine with us. It actually made it easier. I adjusted what I was doing. When he would get to the right distance behind Ranger, I would simply slow him down with the reins. When he responded, I immediately released. I actually think this might be what I was teaching him when I was working on heeling to Ranger, because when he got to the desired position, I slowed him down with the reins, released and then he got clicked for staying there. We did a lot of trotting on that ride and even trotted a fair distance towards home.

It seemed that in a short while, he became easier to trot with Ranger than Cruiser is. I’m looking forward to the time when I will be doing this lesson at a canter.

Night Ride with Starry

Cole Train has been doing very well with his morning weekend rides, but each time I take him out in the evenings, he gives me a challenging ride. I haven’t done it that much, and that may be part of the problem. Our other horses have always seemed more hyper in the evenings. It is possible that he just needs to get used to it. I decided to try to get him out at least once a week until I run out of daylight to ride both horses on the trail after work.

Yesterday evening, I took Cruiser for a quick ride in the rain. It was a really hot day, so the light rain felt good. When I got back, Kevin was there. I saddled Cole up for an indoor arena ride, and then it stopped raining. I quickly changed my mind, grabbed the bug spray and invited Kevin and Starry to go along with us.

Since the bugs have been driving Starry crazy, Kevin hasn’t been riding with me in the evenings. Starry does better earlier in the day. This would be Starry’s first evening ride since some time in May, and the first time Cole has ever gone on a ride with another horse in the evening. Also, I planned to try some trotting—the first time with any horse other than Ranger.

I told Kevin that if the deerflies get really bad, we could turn around early. Well they did get bad, but Kevin didn’t give up.

We did some trotting. Even though Kevin couldn’t slow Starry down to the speed we have been practicing with Ranger, Cole didn’t pass him or try to canter. He just trotted along until I would click because he was being so good that I couldn’t resist clicking.

So, what did Kevin learn? That when I click, we stop so I could give Cole a treat. I would tell Kevin we were clicking, and he just kept going. Fortunately, when he stopped, Cole politely trotted up to Starry.

What did Cole learn? If Starry starts to prance, trot off, canter off or throw a temper tantrum because the bugs are bothering him, that he is to keep doing whatever he is doing and not pay any attention to the big buckskin’s antics. We had a lot of chances to practice this lesson. Each time, Cole was perfect, and each time I clicked him for it—to encourage more perfect behavior in the future. One thing I like about clicker is that it is so much more effective than just saying “good boy.” Even the time when Starry blasted past us at his fast trot to get away from the bugs, Cole just walked quietly. In other words, Cole did better than Cruiser would have in the same circumstances. I was elated.

We walked on the way home with Cole in the lead and Starry following. The lead horse seems to get the brunt of the deerflies, and though Cole doesn’t like them, he is more tolerant than Starry. Starry calmed down, and we had a nice trip home.

What did I learn? That I have a very special horse. Cole was good when Starry acted up. When Kevin would start to trot before I was ready, Cole didn’t trot until I told him to. In fact, Cole always waits for me to tell him to trot instead of following what the other horses do. I have a horse that pays attention to me instead of his riding companions.

I’m not sure how this happened. It could be because I have zero tolerance to unrequested gait changes—but that never made a difference with Cruiser. Maybe it is because when I ride in the indoor arena, which could be very hectic, I made him stand whenever doors were opened, horses were led through, people pushed wheelbarrows by or whatever. Maybe he learned stillness among chaos. Maybe it is because we practice transitions so much or maybe it is all of it put together. Regardless, I love it. Considering that Cole is a young and very spirited horse, it is wonderful.

Thank you Kevin and Starry for a wonderful ride.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Hot, but great, trail rides

We had some great trail rides this weekend. I got out to the barn a little late on Friday since I had to water my brother’s garden. (they were on vacation..) I took Cruiser for a quick trail ride, and just turned Cole out to play. He ran and ran long enough to be nearly dripping in sweat, so I then took him for a walk to the river.

Saturday, my sister and I took Cruiser and Ranger out for a very pleasant ride. I rode Cole by himself. We did a bunch of trotting to the second river, and met my sister on the way back. I decided to attempt a canter, again. I haven’t had any luck in the arena. Last fall, I was able to canter him when we played “target my sister.” I decided to approach it that way, again. it took a number of attempts to get the canter, but when I got it, it was glorious. Last fall, he was fast, unbalanced and all over the place. Since I had only been riding him a short time at that point, that wasn’t a surprise. This time, he was even, balanced and went at a reasonable speed. We tried it a number of times—sometimes getting it, sometimes not. Finally, my sister said we should do it just one more time. She walked up the trail and waited for us. We never got better than a trot. When we reached her, she moved over to the side and started jogging with us. She then simulated the canter—and we were off! I left her and kept going. I was going to stop after a short distance, but decided not to since it was so nice. We went about a thousand feet. I asked for a trot, got it, clicked and we were done for the day.

Sunday is the day we take Ranger and Cole up to the show ring trails. Last week, we worked on trotting alongside. That was our plan this week, but Cole decided he didn’t need to get up to Ranger. He was happy to follow 10 feet behind. We did a lot of trotting and clicking. We only stopped for things like rough trails and sharp corners. We even did a little trotting towards home. I led him down the big hill, and he did his silly circus walk for me. we then went further down the trail a short ways and crossed a new river. He went across great, but he was hesitant to step back in to go home. I’m not sure what startled him, there, but once Ranger was out of sight, he got brave and stepped in.

I rode him down the short, steep hill, again, and he did his circus walk, again. He is so silly, but at least I can control his speed. It was a terrific ride.

I then took Cruiser out for 5 miles and met Starry on the way home.

Tonight, there is a chance for storms, so I’m not sure what will transpire.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Law of Unintended Consequences

A few weeks ago, I decided my dog, Maggie, aka Dumb Dog, needed grooming. She is actually my dad’s dog, but he doesn’t do any of the hard work or training with her. I gave her a bath, and then every other day or so, I groomed her.

I don’t think anyone ever tried to groom her, before. She immediately started snapping at my hand. I held her collar and when she held her head still, I clicked and treated her. The first day, I got piles of hair out of her. When she was good she good she got clicked. When she was bad, I ignored her and didn’t stop grooming.

Each time, she got better, and now, a couple weeks later, she sits beside me and lets me groom all I want and just waits for her periodic clicks. She seems to like it.

Now, here is the unintended consequence. We have had her since October, and whenever she would sit on my lap, she would constantly mouth my hand. Nothing I did would get her to stop, so I eventually just threw her on the floor whenever she did it—which was nearly always. She was fine with everyone else. Shortly after a started teaching her to lie still during grooming, she started to lie still on my lap. I would then pet her and tell her she was good—no clicks. It has taken me this long to make the connection. I taught her to lie still and good things will happen. She is treating me completely different than she used to. If this keeps up, I may start to like her, someday.

Thunder doesn’t like the new Maggie, and typically he will start to cry from the other room in a few minutes. Then I have to leave Maggie and see what he wants. He is quite the tyrant.

Cat Party!

Yesterday was a big day for us. It was Thunder’s 4th anniversary. Thunder is my feline buddy, and he means the world to me. So, it was time to throw a cat party! I’m glad to say the weather was cool, and that makes a big difference with a long-haired cat. He isn’t too playful on hot days.

First ingredient to a cat party? A tired dog. I took Maggie out for a long walk. She wasn’t invited to the party. Unfortunately, no one who was invited: my sister, my sister’s cat, the squirrels, birds and chipmunks—none of them showed up. We still had great fun.

At 7:30, the fun began. To start with, I followed Thunder all around while he purred and told me how much he loved me. I got the catnip out and then, we played a little explore, then throw, then feather, then throw, then chase, then follow, then tent, then throw, then da bird, then throw and then it was time to rest a little. If I left the room, he would either start running around or call me. The dog ventured in every now and then to be promptly chased out by Thunder. It was his party.

he decided it was time to rest around dusk.  During our rest, he sat looking out the dining room picture window and watched the lightning bugs. I watched them with him, drank a cup of tea and called up my sister to give her an update. Alas, I thought the party was over, but shortly after I hung up the phone, Thunder wanted to play chase, then throw, then run, then peekaboo, then follow, then throw…Finally, at 10:00, he said he needed to rest. At 10:45, when I tried to collect him for bed, he decided it was time to seriously play dog hunt. Poor Maggie. He vigorously chased her out of the room 3 times before she gave up.

After he had his evening snack and visited the litter box, he said he was ready for bed. I think he purred for 20 minutes straight before he finally fell asleep. He was so happy, and so was I. It was a great party.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A training ride and a fun ride

I decided to bite the bullet and take Cole on the trail yesterday evening. He has been doing so well on the weekend mornings, but every time I try an evening, he is horrible. Well, he was horrible, again. Let’s see… He tried to trot down the hill, tried to spin and run home, once, the first time I asked him to trot, he tried to run, and when I stopped him, he bucked in place, his trotting was very fast and quite out of control at times and he was in a hurry to get home. That is a typical evening ride. At least this time, I didn’t turn back early. I stuck it out and went on the minimum ride—to the next river crossing. I think I merely need to ride in the evenings on trail more often to get him through this. Now that he has shoes, I will try to do it at least once a week.

I was nearly back, and I found my sister with her dog! I forgot she was working day shift. (Most of the time, she works afternoon shift.) She walked back with us, and Cole couldn’t take his eye off Stubby. He didn’t like when Stubby was in the lead. He felt he should be in the lead. Stubby hates following. Cole wanted to crowd him off the trail. Cole acts funny around cats and dogs. He wants to chase them. I certainly don’t let him. I think when he lived in his paddock, he learned to chase them out.

I then took Cruiser on a fast and fun ride. The weather was cool, so we trotted much of the way home, so we had no trouble getting back before dark. He was in one of his great Cruiser moods, and I had so much fun. Just no one tell him he is 24, and maybe he will never act like an old horse.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Trail Riding Weekend

Been too busy to blog! So, here is what has been going on. Saturday, my younger niece came out to ride. she rides Ranger, my sister rides Cruiser and I ride Cole. We went farther with Cole than we ever have, before—all the way until the trail ends if we go south. The last quarter mile is the worst because we are out in the open and the road runs parallel. On the way back, a garbage truck was going down the street; stopping at each house. Ranger got very nervous, and we were able to teach my niece how to handle a slowly moving monster approaching and passing. I’m glad to say that Cole and Cruise were fine. We stopped the horses and let them watch the truck approach. When it came alongside us, I showed my niece, with Cole as an example, how to keep Ranger facing it until is was no longer a threat. She did it, and Ranger relaxed and we continued the ride.
Sunday, my sister and I took Ranger and Cole up to the show ring trails. Our goal was to practice trotting together. Just like last weekend, Ranger was supposed to lead and Cole was not allowed to pass. I clicked him when he stayed parallel to my sister’s leg. Each time, we increased the distance. They did great, and it is funny how much slower Cole goes when Ranger sets the pace versus when we are alone.
I led him down the huge hill, but on the short hill, I rode down for the first time since the time last year when he tried to trot down it and didn’t want to stop at the street. He did very well. I clicked him for slow and careful walking a number of times. He knows what I want—that is definite. He just needs to control his body. He just gets too much momentum.
Yesterday, I didn’t have that much time, so I rode him in the indoor arena. He didn’t like the heat, so it was a lackluster performance, but I still enjoyed it.
I took Cruiser on a quick ride on Sunday and Monday and he was a joy, as always.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Cole's First Pair of Shoes

Well, it was time. Time for the first pair of shoes. I rode him a lot this last 8 weeks, and his feet were fairly worn—and I plan to increase his riding. In anticipation, not only did I decide to have shoes put on him, I increased his grain. Hard to believe the fat horse I got a year ago needed his grain increased. He looks so much better than before—he lost over 100 pounds according to the weight tape.

Anyway, back to his feet. I spent a lot of time tapping his hooves with the hoof pick and then even tapped him a few times with a hammer. He was always perfect for the tapping. Of course, it helped that I was clicking him. I also spent time stretching his front legs forward and holding them, too.

My farrier agreed, when he saw Cole’s feet, that shoes were necessary. I can trust my farrier to be truthful about this. There have been times when he told us we didn’t need shoes, too. Some farriers want to shoe every horse. My farrier isn’t that way.

He trimmed the front feet and then went to trim the back. Oops! All the time I spent working on the front hooves—not one minute did I review his back hoof lessons. He pulled away several times, and my farrier held on and made faces. Reminder for next time—review the back hooves before the next visit.

Now, for the big moment. Time to put the shoes on the front. On the first hoof, during the procedure, he tried to pull away and got his hind feet way under him. This could be bad, cuz when Cruiser does this, it means he wants to rear up to pull away. My farrier just kept going, and Cole had to stand that way until it was time to put his foot down. On the second hoof, he was fine. At no time did he misbehave during any pounding of the hammer.

I was disappointed. I really expected him to be better. To my surprise, my farrier was very pleased. It was a matter of expectations. I wanted perfection, but my farrier, who has shod many horses with their first pair of shoes, knew how bad a horse can be the first time. He was tickled—particularly when he pointed out how awful Cole was the first time he trimmed his feet a year ago. The best news—he will just get better. We went through several years of Cruiser rearing during shoeing, after all.

Now I can ride all I like without worrying about wearing his hooves to nothing.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

One Fine Weekend

I had a lovely long weekend for riding. Due to the holiday, and since we ride in a very suburban park, we didn’t venture far from home, but we still had fun. Friday evening, I took both Cole and Cruiser on a short trail ride. Cole was awful. I just don’t know why we have so much more trouble in the evenings than the mornings. Well, I will keep trying.

Saturday, my sister and I took Cruiser and Ranger on an hour ride, and they were delightful. I took Cole on the same ride by myself. We did a lot of trotting. Only once did he build up some extra steam and I had trouble stopping him. as a bonus, we trotted on a trail we only trotted once last fall. On this trail, he was great. Last fall, we was absolutely awful when I tried trotting here. It is a slight incline and has lots of sharp bends. I was really pleased with that. We walked all the way home, and I didn’t have to correct him a single time. When we got back, I rode a little while in the arena to show off his pretty trot to one of the boarders at the neighboring barn. It appears that the people over there are starting to talk about him.

We had a big storm Saturday night, so we weren’t able to cross the river. My sister and I had planned to work on trotting Cole with Ranger. You see, we have struggled for years with Cruiser and Ranger wanting to race each other at the trot. We didn’t want to go through this with Cole. There is a stretch of trail before the river that is about 200 feet long. We decided to just go back and forth on this trail to teach the lesson.

My sister suggested we teach Cole to heel to Ranger like he heels for me. I would ask him to trot to my sister’s leg and stay there. We did it a few times at a walk, and it seemed like he understood. When we tried it at a trot, after a few times, he seemed very happy to trot in that spot in hopes of getting a click. I don’t know how many times we went back and forth, but it was a lot. Sometimes we clicked part way, and sometimes we went to the end.

Monday, we were able to cross the river and practice it on a longer trail. I didn’t expect it to go so well. It was wonderful. Only one time did Cole pass up Range, and that is when Ranger slowed down. After that, my sister made sure that Ranger stayed a steady speed. We did the good sections of the trail 2 times with a lot of clicks. At the end of the last trotting section, I felt Cole change. I called to my sister to look—he was going into his pretty trot! Next time we ride together, I bet it will be even better. He actually went slower when I worked him with Ranger because Ranger went slower than Cole typically does on trail. It was so much nicer. I have a feeling that Cole will figure out that a moderate speed is more comfortable than trotting to the max. They were still moving out at a good speed, just not a racing speed.

Another happy surprise—the hill work I did with him last week seems to have had an effect. On one hill that we went on that is short and steep, I led him and he walked slow and careful whenever I told him to put his head down. Also, on one of the steep riverbanks that I ride down and he always goes too fast, on his own, he put his head down and walked slow and careful down to the water. He got a click for that!

I really like Cole, but that doesn’t take away from my love for Cruiser. On each of the days I took him on the solo ride, he was a dream horse. We just trot and canter away with smiles on both of our faces. Cole has big shoes to fill when the sad day comes and Cruiser moves on the greener pastures…

Thunder and his Gloxinia