Thursday, July 12, 2018

Conquering the Lagoon, Again

Conquering the Lagoon, Again

Ellen and I finally got to go to the Pig Trail.  Funny name--irrelevant story.  We would have gone earlier, but between Dante's hoof abscess, my torn retina, lots of rain and some very hot weather, we just never made it until now.

Ellen was nervous for her first ride over there, because that is her nature.  Her horse, Dante, is just such a good boy; there just wasn't much justification for it.  I had already gone a few times when Shari when Dante's abscess was happening, so I knew Cole would be pretty good.  Personally, I was just looking forward to riding somewhere we haven't been for a while.

The Pig Trail is really nice.  The tough part is getting there.  We have another river to cross, the very busy Lagoon area to ride through and a huge hill to go up.

To make the long story short, the ride went terrific except for one hiccup.

On the way out, as we were heading through the Lagoon, we had a little trouble.  It can be a tough place to ride.  I have written about it before.  The trail runs parallel to the road.  On the other side of the road is the fisherman's wall.  It is a steep rock wall with the river below it.

There were no fisherman on the wall, no cars in the parking lots between the road and the trail and there wasn't much traffic.  I told Ellen we couldn't have asked for it better morning for our first trip through the Lagoon together of the year.

I took the lead and headed off at a trot.  Cole was pretty excited and wanted to go fast.  I didn't want to get too far ahead of Dante, who naturally trots much slower.  If I did, I would have to stop and walk much sooner so they could catch up.  I asked Cole to slow down and got a little response from him.  I asked him, again--and suddenly we were off and running!

I had trouble stopping, but I must confess that part of the problem is my hand got a bit tangled in his incredibly long, luxurious and very inconvenient mane.  I didn't want to pull his mane out, so he got away from me.  All I could think about was Ellen behind me.  I had to get him under control. 

He wasn't going top speed, so I don't think he was all that frightened, but he still didn't want to stop.  I large truck started to pass us on the street.  That couldn't possibly be the problem.  As it passed us, I could see it was towing a boar.

It wasn't loud or going too fast.  There wasn't any real reason for Cole to take off from it--and then I thought of Dante.  Maybe he spooked at is and that set Cole off.  Maybe Dante was right behind us in a panic!  My big sister feelings kicked in.  I had to take care of Ellen!!!

Once the truck passed us, Cole began to slow down and I was able to get him to stop.  I immediately turned him around to check on Ellen. 

There was Dante, a couple hundred feet away.  He was trotting along nice and slow like nothing even happened.  Why do I worry about them?  Why does Ellen worry about riding him in different places?

She said that she saw the boat and stopped Dante.  Dante just stood there as it went by.  She couldn't yell a warning to me because I was already too far ahead, and my old ears wouldn't of heard her. 

The rest of the ride was flawless for both horses, and we really enjoyed ourselves.  They seemed to enjoy the ride, too.  They were both a little more excited than usual, but they behaved lovely. 

I can't wait to do it again.

Monday, July 9, 2018

It was Supposed to be a Boring Ride

It was Supposed to be a Boring Ride

The other day, I wanted to ride Cole.  The river was too high to cross, Starry had thrown a shoe, Ellen was working and unfortunately, Bella was lame.  What was I to do?

The last thing I planned to do was ride in the arena.  That was out of the question.  The hill is still not fixed.  The mud is horrible and there are so many stones.  It isn't worth it to go up and down multiple times and wear out my horse shoes.

It looked like I was going to be riding on the loop in the back of the property.  It isn't the most exciting ride when you are by yourself.

When I got to the barn, there were a bunch of horses loose in the outdoor arena.  It is right by the loop.  If the horses are quiet, that isn't a problem.  These horses were running all around.  I could wait and ride the loop, or I could go down the hill, after all.

I decided on the hill.  We traversed the mud and went to the bottom.  The last section on the bottom is not muddy or stony, and we often trot there.  I decided to trot back and forth.  It only takes about 20 seconds to get to the end.  Once again, this isn't that exciting.

It was the first time Cole had been on trail in a week, though.  Between my torn retina and then rain every day--raising the river, we just couldn't get out on the trail.  When we did ride, we rode the loop.

When I got to the bottom of the hill and asked Cole to trot, he launched into a canter.  Well, that told me how his mood was!  At the end, I asked him to stop, turn on the haunches, click, treat and walk back.  We did this a few times until he settled down.  Then, we trotted both ways.  He was still energetic, so it was fun.  Sometimes when we do this, his heart just isn't in it.  This time, he was genuinely enthusiastic.

At one point, I realized that I kept doing my turn on the haunches in the same direction.  As I was trotting, I decided to move him over to the other side of the trail to set us up to turn the other way.  Instead of just moving over, he did a leg yield!  I was so pleased with him. 

Leg yielding is something I have struggled with him from the beginning.  Cole is such an over achiever, that when I taught him to leg yield, he quickly morphed it into a side pass.  He has a wonderful side pass at a walk.  When I ask him to leg yield at a trot, he tries to side pass, and it just doesn't work.  I ended up putting all my attention to shoulder in, instead.  It is a more useful exercise.

We do practice a leg yield at a walk when I ride the loop.  When we come around the bend and face towards home, he used to want to hurry on home.  I took his forward energy and asked for some sideways--and I get a leg yield.  I click him for it most of the time.  It never transferred into the arena, though.

So, when I got a decent, but sloppy, leg yield at a trot--this was a big moment.  I decided to work on it.  Of course, I clicked him when he did well.

We practiced to the left, and we practiced to the right.  I threw in some good halts, a canter and he even gave me his show trot a few times.  He was all excited because we were doing tricks!  Cole loves tricks!  We still did turn on the haunches whenever we turned around.  By the time I was done, he would side pass one way, go straight for a few steps and then side pass the other way before I would click him.  We had fun.  Before I knew it a half hour went by, and we rode up the hill and home.

I thought it would be a boring ride, but we both had a lot of fun. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Time Out on Trail Riding

Time Out on Trail Riding

I haven't been doing much trail riding, lately.  I got a tear in my retina.  When I asked the surgeon who fixed it what restrictions I had, he said I could do anything but horseback riding!  I asked him how he knew that I rode, and he said that he didn't--he just said that--never expecting that was the big question I had to ask.  It was the bouncing that he wanted me to avoid.  I guess I could have ridden just at a walk, but all I needed was one of Cole's Cole bursts.

Ellen had to ride with Kevin for a while.  It sounds like they had nice rides, but Starry really back stepped in his leadership training.

We had an older horse in our barn die who lived next to Starry.  The stall was much better the the stall Dante was in, so we moved him over to the new stall.  I think having Dante by him all the time has made him more reluctant to leave him. 

They have been working on placing Starry off to the side when they are trotting with great success.  Starry still fights it, but Kevin can keep him there.  He wants to follow Dante so closely that if Dante suddenly stopped, there could be a collision.  If he is off the the side, the collision can be avoided.

Ellen did take Cole on one trail ride.  I think she had fun.  He was very full of himself since he hadn't been out for a while.  He showed Ellen what a fast he has.  Then she remembered that I have been working with him to slow him down when I want him to, so she tried it.  He listened to her and became much more manageable.

When I was finally able to ride, the weather didn't cooperate.  We have had just enough rain to keep the river uncrossable.  We have just been riding out on the loop behind the barn.  It's not exciting, but when you haven't ridden in a while, it is wonderful!