Friday, May 29, 2015

Bella learns the hill

I planned to meet my new friend, Shari, to go for a trail ride.  We rode together about a month ago, and our horses did so well together, we wanted to try it again.  She keeps her horse a short distance down the street.
She has a chestnut National Show Horse named Bella, and she is simply beautiful, but she can be a handful.  We rode down the hill and got a good look at the river—it was too high to cross on a pony, and she didn’t mind just riding on the hill.  I told her how I liked to trot back and forth on the bottom, and we tried that, but Bella had trouble with the concept turning around and walking back.  We did it over and over, and there was only a slight improvement in her behavior.

We decided to try riding up the hill—and now Bella really started to fight Shari.  We didn’t get too far, and I suggested we turn around and go back down.  Shari liked that idea.  We walked back down without a problem.

We turned around and headed back up.  Once again, Bella was fighting.  About halfway up, we saw some people with a white dog.  Shari recognized the dog as one that had chased Bella.  She shouted out to them that her horse was bad with dogs, and sure enough—Bella had her head way up in the air and couldn’t take her eyes off it.  They turned around and headed up the hill.  We followed up.  Soon they were out of sight, and that was a good thing.

At the very top of the hill, we turned around to go back down.  Ellen calls this the “demoralization process.”  Bella walked down the hill like a lady.  At the bottom, we started back up, and there was a huge improvement.  She mostly walked and pulled less.  At the top, I asked Shari if she wanted to do it one more time, and she enthusiastically said, “Yes.”

This time, Bella was nearly perfect down and back up again.  I think when she realized that she may not go home when she goes up, she no longer had a reason to prance.  She was completely demoralized.

All along, Cole was amazing.  Fractious horses tend scare him.  Not once did he throw up his head, cringe or even side step away from her.  This was good training for him, too.

During the ride, I explained to Shari how clicker training works and how it would help her with this problem.  Basically, when Bella walked quietly, Shari could click her to reward her for the right behavior.  I think I may have converted her.

Back at the barn, it was time to see how MerryLegs does with traffic.

I walked him down the driveway, and he was scared of the garbage cans, so I urged him to touch them, and he was fine after that.  Then we stood there and watched cars.  After a few cars, I walked him back to the barn, turned him around and down the driveway, again.  We did that once more for good measure.  I think he saw at least 10 cars and never flinched.  I did ask him to lower his head when they approached to get him to focus on me, and that may have helped.  I rewarded a head lowering with a click, of course.  MerryLegs passed his traffic test with flying colors. 

Our other big event was hoof practice.  I got him to lift each front foot 10 times in a row—and he was really good towards the end of it.  I only needed to lightly touch his leg.  When I worked on this on the weekend, I struggled a lot to get multiple lifts.  He seemed to believe that only once was necessary—which it usually is, but not if you want to practice.  I like that I can see such quick improvements.  

Thursday, May 28, 2015

A Rainy Evening with the Horses--It was Still Fun

Kevin and I were going to go for a ride. I saddled up and went outside to wait for him. Before he even got out, it started to drizzle, and he wimped out on me. Cole and I left by ourselves.

As I’ve mentioned before, Cole hates rain as much as Kevin. It was a light rain and a warm evening, so it didn’t bother me at all. Each time I have ridden Cole in the rain, I have noticed that he goes much faster than dry days. I think he wants to get the ride over with. That is no problem for me! We flew down the hill. When we got to the bottom, I was going to trot to the river bank—stopping right before a log we can either step over or jump. Well, he didn’t want to stop, so we jumped the log and he dashed off at a canter—past the riverbank and came to a sliding stop where the trail ends a short distance later. Silly guy—he thought he could get out of going for a ride.

I turned him around, and he reluctantly walked down the river bank. Once we got across, we had a very, very fast ride. When we reached our favorite spot to canter, he was trotting so fast that he simply couldn’t make the transition. Instead, we kept trotting faster and faster. I don’t think I have ever trotted this fast. We slowed down when we got to rough trail, and made it to the next river crossing in no time at all. The rain wasn’t bad, so we crossed and rode about 10 minutes longer before turning home. He really, really wanted to go fast, now. It did start raining a little harder, so I agreed with him, but when he started to get a little out of control, I made him walk the rest of the way.

Once we got back, it really started to pour. Our barn has a metal roof, so the sound is deafening. I had planned to work on traffic with MerryLegs, but that was out of the question. Instead, I led him into the indoor arena. We walked around. He wasn’t very good. I think it was all the noise from the rain. He kept getting worried and would stop. Graddually, he improved.

Kevin came in to watch. I decided to test his lounging skills. I had my 15 foot lead rope and dressage whip. When I asked him to go out on the circle, he promptly told me what he thought of lounging. He said he would face me and not go on the circle. When I would step to the side, he would pivot so he would still face me. After about a minute or so, I realized we weren’t getting anywhere.

I decided to try the opposite side to see if it was any better. He wasn’t as coordinated this way, and I was able to get into driving position and he took a step. I clicked/treated. I tried again, and got it a little quicker that time. Once he realized what was going on, it took less time each time. Kevin wanted me to just have him go out into circles, but I explained I wanted to train him to go away from me, first. In just a few minutes, he was doing excellent. It was only about 10 clicks. Soon, it seemed like he wanted to show me he could do it—and then he started to trot around me. Kevin wanted me to see how many laps he would go, but I wanted to click him for just going on the circle. When I clicked, he would stop and walk up to me for his treat—and then I would send him back out.

Once on the circle, I could see he was trained to lounge well. He paid close attention to me and responded to all my body language and the dressage whip. I don’t think he liked being lounged before—hence his reluctance to want to do it in the beginning. I plan to make him love it.

I went back to the original direction, and this time, it only took a little bit before he was walking away from me with just a tug on the halter and then trotting on the circle. I didn’t work him long or hard, though. My plan was just to review the process and have a good experience—and we did.

I’m glad to say that his trot looked balanced and lovely. In the future, I will click him for impulsion, roundness and self-carriage. This worked wonders with Cole, so I am curious how it will go with MerryLegs.

We ended the day with practicing walk/whoa/walk with the clicker. This is a great way to instill vocal commands and teach him to focus on me. I had to quit when I ran out of carrot slivers.

It was a great evening in spite of the rain.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Clicker and MerryLegs

Clicker and MerryLegs

MerryLegs was only here for 2 days when we introduced him to clicker training. I had a pocket full of carrot slivers and a ball to use as a target. His indoctrination was the standard procedure—except none of us had a clicker with us. Ellen and I both switched our horses to a tongue click, long ago. I didn’t want to wait until I remembered to bring a clicker, so a tongue click had to do. (My timing with it is better, anyway.)

So, I clicked and treated over and over. He learned that a click means a treat is coming. I showed him the ball. He touched it with his nose—click/treat. That’s all it took. Every time I showed him the ball, he touched it. We did center, left, right and low. He wasn’t quite good enough to do the ground, but I knew I was pushing it on that one. That usually takes a few sessions. Still, he got the initial targeting faster than any horse I have ever trained. (This boy likes his treats!)

The next day, I wanted to try leading MerryLegs with Ranger on the loop again. This time, there was no motorbikes, but there were a lot of pesky insects. MerryLegs was very excited and wanted to pass Ranger, but that gets Ranger angry, so my job was to encourage him to just follow. I had to stop him a few times and we did circle a couple times, too, but we had no serious problems. He was bothered by the horse trailers, tires, barrel, etc… He would just stop and stare—or side step by.

Because of the bugs, we decided one lap was enough. We headed to the front of the property. We had to pass a very large horse trailer, and he really didn’t like it. Ellen suggested letting him touch it and click him for it. She has taught Dante to do that, and not only has it helped him get used to new things, but he likes the game.

I led MerryLegs up to the trailer. He didn’t want to get close, but I did. Being a curious guy, he tentatively stretched his neck and touched it with his nose. Click/treat. He touched it again. Click/treat. And again. Ellen was ready to bring Ranger in, when we noticed the blue plastic tarp draped over a tractor. MerryLegs looked at it sideways—time for touching. I brought him as close as I could get him—he stretched out—touch—click—treat. He did it a few times. As I led him back to the barn, it seemed to me that he was more relaxed.

Ellen and I went out on our trail ride with Dante and Cole. When we got back, I said I wanted to take him on the loop again. This time, I would do it on my own. We were going to touch things.

He did stall out, once, when he realized that he was by himself. There was a horse laying in the outdoor arena, and maybe he thought that was a good idea. Once I got his feet dislodged, I praised him and we headed for the scary trailer tucked in the far corner of the loop.

When we got to it, he said he still didn’t like the look of it, but I told him not to be afraid. I walked up to it and he willingly followed. I held my hand to it to show him it was safe. He reached out, touched the trailer—click/treat—one more dragon conquered. Next stop—the big blue barrel on the corner. He didn’t like it before, but now it seemed like he knew the game. I had no trouble getting him to touch it. A short distance away was a big truck. He touched that. Next to it was another trailer. He was a little reluctant with that one, but soon, he touched it too.

By now, I can tell he thinks it is a fun game. We headed back to the barn, but we had to stop on the way to touch a pile of tires. He had no problem when we reached the tractor loading manure into a truck. We were very close, and he stood still to watch it. Ranger would have been all bent out of shape with that one.

Once we got into the indoor arena, we touched both mounting blocks. I led him to the far end to look out the scary door. He was able to see the miniature horse in the neighbor’s pasture. That puzzled him. Unfortunately, that was something we couldn’t touch. He wanted to touch Princess, the tyrannical cat, but I thought we might be pushing our luck. Dante plays touch with her with some success, but he isn’t as new to the game. Princess can be very unpredictable, and I didn’t want a scratched nose to interfere with our positive reinforcement.

It was nearly time for the horses to eat lunch, so I brought him back to the barn. It was a successful session. This is a useful game, and I’m glad that Ellen reminded me of it. I managed to do several things. First and foremost, I feel I was able to prove to him that I was a good, reliable leader. Since he was still insecure in his new surroundings, I showed him that the things he was worried about were safe and that he can trust my decisions. He visibly calmed down outside after this. Second, I taught him a game we can play whenever we encounter something new. Rather than avoid it, we could explore is and get rewarded with a click. And lastly, I reinforced the whole concept of clicker training—something that is still very new for him.

He is now on his way to being a clicker horse.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Hello MerryLegs

MerryLegs showed up in Cleveland last Thursday after a long journey from Manitoba, Canada. Not surprisingly, he was a little keyed up the first few days. I planned to just give him time to settle in and for me to get to know him. Friday evening, I took him for a walk to the round pen. He had to pass the outdoor arena where 2 thoroughbreds were out playing. When they ran to see him, that startled him and he jumped about. Seems like it just went through all of this with Dante a few weeks ago…

When he settled down, I carefully led him to the round pen so he could roll and kick up his heels. Once inside and free, he just stood there and looked at me. Then he started snuffing around, but he didn’t roll. I was dying to see what he looked like when he moved, so I went inside and gently encouraged him to trot around. It turns out, he has a lovely, Morgan trot. What else can I expect from a Morgan.

If I wasn’t pushing him, he wasn’t moving. I let him go back to exploring. He finally did roll, but cautiously. He seems to be a bit like my cat, Thunder. He rolled once, looked all around and laid back down to roll, again. Maybe he was upset that it wasn’t muddy. I’ve been told that he loves to be dirty.

When I was inside the round pen, he wanted to be right with me. He would lip both of my hands, back and forth. I felt no teeth, so let him do it—it seemed like he needed to. When the tractor drove by, he didn’t care. When the driver of the tractor went past on his bicycle, he didn’t care, either. Then the driver came back in the big noisy truck—no problem. They weren’t close to the round pen, but close enough to startle a horse. He was very interested in the thoroughbreds. I decided to wait and bring him in after they left. He hurried back to the barn. I brushed him and cleaned his feet and then gave him his evening hay.

The next morning, Saturday, it was quiet, so I turned him loose in the outdoor arena to play. He still didn’t run around unless urged by me. In the larger area, he stretched his legs out to trot—in an even more Morgan style. His tail was often up—Arab style. Did I get another Morab? Ellen took some pictures.

I brought him in and led him around the indoor arena. He said there were a lot of scary things, but he would either stop and stare or shy away. There was no explosiveness or trying to run away from the things that bothered him. It was hard to make it all the way around, though without him stopping to look around. It seemed like all 30 of the horses at our stables wanted to call out to him—and he had to answer.

Ellen and I went out on our ride. (It was a great one.) When we got back, she decided to lead Ranger on the loop. I would bring MerryLegs along. MerryLegs was very excited about it, but I was able to keep him behind Ranger. All was going well, until we were just beginning our second lap. The kids 2 doors down started up their motorbikes. Ranger flipped out, and Ellen patiently worked their way back to the barn. MerryLegs got upset because Ranger was upset—and he was prancing and acting out. So much for Ranger being a good example.

When we got back, I walked him around the indoor arena. After a few minutes, he was walking steady along the wall. I was so pleased. Indoor arenas can be such scary places—and ours has 3 doorways to the different barns, 2 doorways to the outside and a lot of windows. There is so much going on that it can take a while for a horse to relax. It was good to see some relaxation on only his second session. I am starting to see that he has a very good mind.

Friday, May 22, 2015

He Arrives

 He Arrives

We thought he would be here on Tuesday, but that was changed to Wednesday because a Canadian holiday messed up their schedule.  Then, they called me and said it have to be Thursday.  There was another horse that they were shipping whose papers to get across the border expired, and they had to be renewed.  So, when Thursday arrived, I was expecting a phone call saying it would be Friday.  Well, I got the phone call, but this time they said he would be there between 7:00 and 9:00 that evening.  It was happening!

I waited at home for the next update.  At 7:45, I got the call that they were about an hour away.  I called Kevin, and he rushed out to the barn right away—he was so excited.  I left a message for Ellen.  She was working until 9:00, so it looked like she might be lucky.  I really wanted her to see him when he arrived, too.  I had told the shipper to call again when they got off the highway.

I drove out.  When I passed the highway exit, I timed how long it would be to get to the barn from there—8 minutes.  I was surprised to see John, Ellen’s boyfriend, was there.  He is a terrific photographer, and all the photos you see are from him.

To kill time, I cleaned the stalls and brushed Ranger.  They were eating their evening hay.  Cole did take a break from it to show John how he can bow.  John took a bunch of pictures of him. There were some other boarders there, and we let them know what was happening.  The excitement was building for all of us—but mostly for me. 

They called!  Kevin and I slowly wandered down the driveway to flag them down when they arrived.  I expected them in 8 minutes.  I didn’t know if Ellen would get there in time.  Eight minutes passed—still no truck.  Suddenly, Kevin blurts out, “I think that is it—I can hear it.”  (How did he hear the truck before me?  Why doesn’t he hear me when I talk?)  Sure enough, I saw headlights, and now I could hear a diesel engine, too.

They saw us waving, and stopped in front of the barn.  The driver told me that it looks like I got a Roy Rogers horse, Trigger.  My heart was beating so fast.  Remember, I hadn’t seen him before.  All I saw was some pictures.  They opened the side door, and started to move things around to get to him.  I walked to the side of the truck and peered in. I could only see a little of him—some of his neck and his shoulder, but I told everyone I thought he was beautiful.  I noticed there was now quite a crowd, now, waiting for him.  Even Marty, the owner of the stables was out there. 

They dropped the ramp, put sides up on it and then they rolled out the red carpet.  Well, maybe it was brown, but it was dark—I like to think it was red.  They led him to the ramp, and he saw the carpet, planted his feet and bowed way back like Cole Train.  They let him reconnoiter and then asked him to proceed.  He carefully stepped down the ramp and stepped on the driveway.  As he strolled down the red carpet and through the crowd at the end of the driveway, I couldn’t help but think that he was getting a movie star welcome.  Maybe he is Trigger?

He had arrived at his new home, but he didn’t know where he was at.  So much had happened to him in the last week that he didn’t know what to think.

And then I saw Ellen!  She made it in time!  I was thrilled that she was there to share the moment, too.

The assistant led him down the long driveway.  His head was way up in the air, he was walking fast and was looking all over the place. 

(The assistant commented that when they got off the highway, he couldn’t believe he was delivering a horse to such a Metropolis.  They passed stores, restaurants, a shopping center, movie theater, hospital and even a college on the way.  And then he turned down our street, saw the horse sign for the bridle path and passed up a bunch of stables and then it made sense.)

When we got to our barn, I remembered we had a very difficult time leading Cole through the door when I got him.  That time, he was going from a bright, sunny day into a dark barn  This time, MerryLegs was going from a dark night into a bright barn.  Sure enough, MerryLegs said he didn’t want anything to do with it.  I pushed the door open further, and then he said he could do it.  We brought him to the stall, turned him loose and I went to take care of the details.  I had to sign for him, get his paperwork and the leftover hay.

When I got back to the barn, so many people were clustered around his stall that I could barely see him.  And there was Kevin, in the middle of the stall, giving him carrot after carrot.  I could see he was nervous about the new surroundings.  He visited with Ranger—who couldn’t keep his eyes off of him.  He looked at the mule, and didn’t seem very impressed with her.  We gave him hay to munch, and as he settled down, he started to eat it.  Kevin, Ellen and I were petting him and talking to him.  Whenever we stopped, he would look up from the hay and wonder what happened. When we petted him again, he would go back to the hay.

Then, I remembered—I have to call Mrs. Shoes!  She is the most wonderful woman who gave me MerryLegs.  I knew she was waiting for the call to know he made it safely and to find out my reaction when I saw what a beautiful horse he is, because, wow, he really is.  Not a single one of the pictures that she sent me prepared me for what I saw coming out of that trailer.  It was a combination of bad photography (because horses really are hard to take good pictures of) and a very thick Canadian winter coat.  It wouldn’t be hard to convince me that all the pictures I saw were taken of a different horse, and she did  this just to surprise me.  And surprised I was.  MerryLegs is one drop-dead gorgeous horse.

I ran to the car to get her phone number and placed the call to about a million miles away in Canada.  I must have sounded like a nut—going on about how beautiful he is—she was telling the truth to me—with no exaggerating—no mother’s vision that her baby is perfect—he really is just that beautiful.  Finally, I told her I had to go because I wanted to go back and be with him, again.  By now, Ellen had told Kevin that he probably had enough carrots.  But that didn’t mean that we couldn’t still pet him and talk to him.

Kevin wanted to know if she had any other horses she wanted to give away.  Ellen was quiet and in awe.  I was in dream land.  Ranger just kept looking at him.  Starry was jealous that Kevin was ignoring him—even kicking his stall to get attention.  It didn’t work.  Kevin laughed at Starry and kept petting MerryLegs.  Cole and Dante were finishing their evening hay. I was still walking on clouds.

Finally, it was getting late, and we knew we had to leave.  When I got home, I called Ellen to talk about how pretty he is and then called Kevin.  Kevin just kept going on about how he was “Blown away.”  I then had to settle down and get some sleep because I needed to go to work in the morning.  I tried reading, but I kept having to reread the pages because my mind would wander.  Still, it was enough to get me relaxed, and I was able to sleep.  

Thursday, May 21, 2015

He is on His Way

And so, I wait.

MerryLegs is on his way, and the shipper is going to call me when he crosses the state line.  I have marshalled all the forces, and they are all waiting for the call.  This is one exciting event.

Yesterday, Kevin put a note on the bulletin board for everyone to say “hello” to MerryLegs.  Of course, there was no MerryLegs, but Kevin put an old toy horse in the stall, instead.  He tricked everyone—they loved it, but probably not as much as they will love the real MerryLegs.

We hope he likes his new home and his new horse friends—especially Ranger, his stall mate.  Ranger has been practicing making faces at the empty stall for the last few weeks in preparation.  I will give him a few days to relax and get used to us and his new home—and then I will ease him into training.  We will indoctrinate him into clicker this weekend—since there are treats involved, I think he will take to it well.  It sounds like he likes to eat nearly anything. 

It now seems like it is really happening.  Until now, it seemed abstract—like a dream.  We have been talking and planning for so long.

I have feeling that he will be another great horse in our little herd of great horses. 

Of course, I will share it all, here.I want people to know that I not trying to hide the facts from anyone.   There was nothing to be ashamed of, and I was willing to stand by what happened as a truthful and sad story. 

To the person who keeps telling the former owner that I haven’t removed everything, I have to ask.  What kind of friend are you?  Do you like making her upset?  You should be ashamed of yourself.  If you were a real friend, you would protect her from unhappiness, not cause it.  

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


Tomorrow is the big day.  It was supposed to be today, but it was a holiday in Canada on Monday, so that messed us up a bit.  I still don’t know what time.  He will be coming from Toronto.  As you can imagine, I will be on pins and needles—all of us will be.

I talked to someone from the shipping company, yesterday, and I asked him about MerryLegs.  He said he is doing well and he is a nice-looking horse.  He then paused and said, "striking, actually, I think you will be pleased."  It wasn’t until later that I pictured him striking the wall, people, barn cats…

I might be crazy for accepting an unseen, unknown horse, but I am thinking his former owner may be the crazier one.  It really sounds like she is giving me an amazing, beautiful horse.  I’m sure he will give me plenty of challenges along the way, but so did all the rest of them.  That’s part of the fun—just as long as no one gets hurt.

The weather has been warm, and we have been doing lots of riding.  Ellen and I just had a 4-day weekend, and then we have our 3-day Memorial Day weekend.  We decided to skip vacation time again until August—when I may be able to trail ride MerryLegs.  We never take time off in July—too hot and buggy.  This will be my last summer of having an air-conditioned office—I might as well enjoy it.

In other news, my brother is going to rototill my garden, and I will start planting.  I bought way too many plants this year, so I will have to share with him and his family.  I am still eating green beans from last year…

Monday, May 11, 2015

Dante’s First Solo Ride of the Year

Dante’s First Solo Ride of the Year

I had the opportunity to take Dante on a solo ride last week. It is the one part of his education that is really lacking. Dante and Cole are such a wonderful duo together, Ellen has no reason to take him alone. She could take him on solo rides when I’m not around, but she chooses to take Ranger instead. She will then work with Dante in the arena and on the property.

It was a very warm evening, and the mosquitoes decided to emerge from their winter hibernation. I didn’t put any bug spray on him because I didn’t know they would be so bad. Throughout the entire ride, if we were at a walk, he was tossing his head around. Of course, that is forgivable.

He started crying on the way down the hill. When we got to the bottom, he was reluctant to go down the river bank, but once I got him pointed in the right direction, he was fine. We crossed the river and started trotting. He moved a little faster than I remember from the past, and that was great. Whenever we slowed down to a walk, he started tossing his head and neighing.

We arrived at a corner of the trail. Across the street is a parking lot, and there was a truck in the driveway with a yellow flashing light. I thought I would let Dante stop and look over at it. He neighed, and I instantly heard an answering neigh. I didn’t see any horses over there—horses aren’t even allowed there. He neighed again—and was answered right away, again. He got very upset about it—there was a horse over there, and he wanted to go see it. I got suspicious. Once again he neighed—and I was right—he was hearing his echo.

Well, I couldn’t allow Dante to talk to himself all evening, and besides, he was getting even more agitated. I urged him around the corner and down a little slope. He was wired—I could feel the tension in his body. He continued neighing with only a few seconds between each one. I pondered—is it better to keep him walkng and hve him settle down or ask him to trot and hope it distracts him? After walking a couple minutes and feeling no improvement, I decided to try the trot. It worked. He moved out at a nice speed, but he quieted down and was no longer frantic. That was a relief.

When we got to the next river crossing, I turned him around and headed home. It was an extremely hot evening for May, and since he still has some winter coat left, I opted to walk home. He did do some crying, but much less now that he was on the way home. At one point, he started to trot, and when I asked him to go back to a walk, he ignored me. I gently brought him into a small circle, stepped a few strides at a walk going away from home, stopped, turned him around and started walking back towards home. He didn’t try it anymore.

The rest of the way was uneventful. I won’t have many more opportunities to take him on solo rides once MerryLegs shows up, but if I did, I’m certain it would take only one or two more rides and he will settle down. That seems to be the pattern with him.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

To the Show Ring

(Ellen's buddies, Stormy and Stubby are waiting for the big arrival.)

I decided to take Cole Train up to the show ring trails for the first time this year. Kevin was’nt able to ride with me, so I was on my own. I think I may have only taken him up there by myself just once. I usually go with Ellen. I remember he was very bad that day, but since then, I have been there so many times, I wasn’t worried at all.

The reason that I don’t usually go up there on weeknights is that it is a little longer ride, and except for last year, I always had another horse to ride when I got back. That will be changing, soon, so I just figured I should make the best out of the 1-horse situation while it lasted.

We got to cross the river in a spot that I haven’t crossed yet this year. I’m glad it is actually better than it was last year. The winter washed many of the rocks away, added a bunch of dirt in one spot and the remaining rocks are big enough to easily see and circumvent. I don’t care much for the next section of trail—it’s about half a mile that parallels the street—so I just trotted through. We crossed the street, went up the big hill and found the pine forest to be extremely lovely in the evening. It has been so long since I have ridden there in the evening, that I forgot how lovely it was.

The trails up there have the best footing in the whole park—perfect for a horse who needs shoes. Cole has worn his feet down a little too much, but he didn’t seem to mind these trails, at all. We had a lovely time trotting. I didn’t go the whole way—a few minutes from the end, there was a big deer blocking the trail, and since I was going to turn, anyway, I didn’t feel like messing with him.

We mostly walked towards home. When we trotted, he was very “forward” so I just did short stretches and practiced stopping. He was just a bit hyper since it was his firt ride up there. Ellen and I will start incorporating this ride into our weekends very soon. She gets a little nervous on the section by the street, so she hasn’t been in a big hurry to tackle it—but I think they are just about ready to try it.

I think I will be back there with Cole, next week…We can try trotting more…

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Maggie in Black

Maggie's has been photoshopped! The colors have changed, but no extra hair has been added.

More Cute Pictures of Stormy

My sister's cat, Stormy is always so adorable.  Here are some of the pictures she has sent me: