Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Fun, Solo Ride

Fun, Solo Ride

The next day, I had the opportunity to go on a trail ride by myself.  Ellen would hike with us, so I guess that, technically, I wasn't alone, but there were no other horses.  It was a chilly morning, but the river was crossable, so I had to get out.  It had been raining, and more was on the way, but I get so few days in January where I can cross the river--it was worth taking a chance on rain.

I rode down the hill by myself.  Ellen drove down and waited for us on the other side of the river.  We have done this so much over the years that when Cole saw someone standing on the other side of the river, he knew just who it was.  His head went up, his ears went forward and he marched right across the river--never taking his eyes off her.  Ellen is a Cole magnet.  She gave him a peppermint when he got to her.

Then came the hard part; convincing Cole to leave Ellen.  She had to jog next to us before Cole would trot.  Once he was moving, in his enthusiasm, he forgot all about her.

We trotted happily along.  It felt so good to be on the trail and trotting!  At first, he behaved beautifully.  Not surprisingly, when I reached the part of the trail where I often canter, his trot got faster and more powerful.  To prevent a Cole burst, I brought him to a walk and restarted.  I had to do this a few times.  He was still fast, but he was with me.

Once we got to the section of the trail that I am guilty of not just cantering, but galloping, I decided it would be best to walk for a while.  He walked very fast.  After passing the "trigger spot" by about a hundred feet, I gathered the reins and asked him to trot.

He launched into a powerful trot--trying to pull the reins out of my hands.  I talked to him and he started to listen.  Once again, he came back to me.  We didn't go that far.  I thought I would check the brakes.  They weren't too good.  Cole typically stops immediately, but it took more more than 5 seconds.  He did stop, though.  I clicked him and then decided it would be in our best interest just to walk.

We quickly walked to the next river crossing, turned and headed home.  He tried to trot a couple of times, but I told him that wasn't a good idea.  We walked really, really fast.  Soon we met Ellen, and she walked with us.  My horses have always loved to walk with Ellen on our trail rides.

When we got back to the river, Cole didn't want to go down the bank without Ellen.  Of course, she was not going to cross!  She had to walk a few steps down the bank to get him started, and then he was on his own.

We crossed the river, and it started to rain.  Cole hates rain more than he hates mud.  Going up the muddy hill in the rain right before his lunchtime should have been quite a challenge, but I just talked him through it with a lot of "good boys."  He went up the hill at a fast walk, but didn't try any of his shenanigans.  I was very proud of him.

It rained the rest of the day, and the next day the river was too high to cross.  I'm so glad I was able to squeeze in a little trail ride.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Brenda's First Trail Ride after the Accident

Brenda's First Trail Ride after the Accident

Remember Brenda?  She was the woman who went flying when her horse Archie bucked her off.  She ended up with a concussion and a lot of residual pain.

The other day, the weather was warm an the river was crosssable--something very rare in northeast Ohio in January.  Kevin, Brenda and I decided to go on a trail ride.

Brenda had been riding a little bit in the indoor arena the last few weeks, and just a few days previous, she joined us on the loop.  She has healed up enough and Archie has been behaving, so she thought it was time.

We decided that we would keep the ride at a walk for her sake.  It was a good idea for our sake, too.  After all, Starry and Cole hadn't been across the river since before Christmas.  They would be so excited that it would be best to contain them a little bit.

Cole was a little hesitant to step into the water, but with some gentle coaxing, he decided to try it.  I clicked him for his cooperation.  The other two followed him right in.  Once we got across, Starry didn't want to lead--which was usual.  Cole wasn't thrilled with the idea, and he walked very slowly for the first couple minutes.  The made it easy for the other two who are very slow walkers.

Once we got past the fence, Cole decided it was fun to be back on the trail, and he went into his speed walk.  He suggested trotting a few timers, but I told him he had to stay at a walk.  I felt like I was on a stick of dynamite.

Starry and Archie still walked slow, so we kept having to stop and wait for them to catch up.

We were almost to the second river crossing--our goal--when Archie started prancing and dancing--not bad, but persistent.  Suddenly, another horse was trotting behind us with no warning.  Archie didn't settle down, and the woman just trotted right past us, saying hello.  That really irked me.

First, she didn't give us any warning that she was approaching.  That is bad enough.  Then, once Archie started to react, she still didn't give us warning or stop trotting, either.  She should have done both out of politeness, but once Archie started to dance, she should have done both out of safety.  She didn't, and trotted right past us--when she should have asked to pass--and passed at a walk, even if our horses were as calm as could be; let alone nervous like Archie was.

She didn't know that this was the first time out for Archie and Brenda since a bad accident, but she should have been polite out of the sake of courtesy and safety.  Everybody should.  You never know when you are passing a horse in a situation like Archie.

Once she got ahead of us, we decided we didn't want to follow her at all.  We turned toward home right away.

Everything changes when you ride towards home.  Cole continued to walk fast and asked several more times if he could trot.  Starry barged into the lead--several times.  Archie started to prance and jog.  They all wanted to go home and had plenty of energy left.

Our main goal was to keep Archie calm.  We didn't let him get very far behind us.  I kept checking for that other rider, because I was sure she would be passing us up on her way home.  Archie didn't want to settle down, at all.

About 10 minutes down the trail, I saw the other rider.  She was trotting our way.  We found a spot of the trail that was wider and placed Starry and Archie on the edge.  I turned Cole in the middle of the trail next to them to make it so that the rider should have to slow her horse down.  Cole stood there, defiant.  As she got closer, we told her to walk past us because Archie was nervous, and she did.  All three of our horses stood quietly as she passed us--and then she trotted off.  Until she was out of sight, our horses wanted to catch up with them, but we were able to keep them walking.

Archie continued to dance about--then Brenda loosened the reins and he settled down.  He may have been doing the dancing because the reins were too tight.

We crossed the river and headed home.  Cole was following the two slow Quarter Horses, and he was not liking it.  I kept asking him to stop to let them get ahead of us.  Then we would walk until we got too close and then stop again.  I could feel his energy building up.

We reached the last incline of the hill.  If there is anywhere in the entire park that Cole will misbehave, it is on that slope.  Starry can be pretty bad there, too.  In the past, I would just lead him up, but the mud was horrendous that I really didn't want to dismount.  Horrendous mud makes Cole want to rush all the more.  Cole passed everyone up.  I stopped him at the bottom to slow his momentum.  It didn't help.  Halfway up the short, steep slope, he lunged up with huge trot strides.  I struggled to contain him and glanced behind me.  There was Archie cantering up behind us!  That is how the big buck happened--it was Archie cantering to keep up with us.

Starry wanted to get out of the mud as quick as possible, too, and he was right behind us.  I told Kevin that Brenda was having problems, and we were able to immediately stop our horses at the top of the slope to diffuse the situation.  Whew, that was scary.

We made it back to the barn with no complications after that.  Kevin and I had one big sigh of relief.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Nothing to Write About

Nothing to Write About

It’s been a quiet month at the barn, leaving me with very little to write about.  We started out with a
frozen river and bitterly cold weather.  It was time to work in the arena, just to stay warm.  
We even walked Ranger inside a few times due to the cold.  

Then we had a thaw--which meant ice on the driveway.  Once again, we were forced to ride in the arena.

We had another cold spell--you guessed it--arena.  Then there was a

Every now and then, I would manage to ride on the loop or on the hill.  Kevin would join me.  
The first few times, riding Cole was like riding a stick of dynamite.  One day, we were able to trot back
and forth on the bottom of the hill, and it took quite a few trips before Cole felt like he wasn’t going to
go flying.  

As the weather got more normal, I was able to ride Cole outside more often-to my delight.  Ellen
chose to stay inside.  Once she gets into her inside rhythm, she usually stays there until we are
closer to spring.  Kevin, of course, won’t ride in the arena to save his life.  I personally just don’t get that.
Better to ride--than not to ride is the way I see it.  

As Cole got more used to riding outside, I was able to trot on the loop when the footing was suitable.  
He is such a good boy.

The other evening, I was riding the loop, around and around.  It is about a quarter mile long.  
I was trying to figure out what to write about this month.  Cole was quiet and relaxed, even though we couldn’t trot because of the footing.  On a whim, I switched directions on the last lap.  I almost always go the same direction because it just works better, and it had been a while since I tried the other way.

We made it about half way, and Cole suddenly became animated.  He started to toss his head around,
prance and try to trot!  I thought I would go back the way I came--his good direction.  It made no
difference.  There was no putting the genie back in the bottle.  I continued back the wrong way.  

Every few steps, I would stop him to get control of his feet that were dancing all about.  He just wouldn’t
settle down.  Finally, I just gave up and dismounted him to lead him back to the barn.  He was still dancing.  He didn’t even want to do silly walk.

I now have a little training project.

I have something to write about.