Friday, April 26, 2019

Dante - Ride 2

Dante - Ride 2

Ellen wasn't ready to ride her safe and reliable horse on the second ride, so she rode Cole, instead.  Sometimes I think she does this just because she likes to spend time with Cole. That is fine with me, since I enjoy riding Dante, too.  It is nice to ride a different horse, now and then.

We led the guys down the hill and mounted on the bottom.  I crossed first.  Remember how happy I was that Dante didn't do his slow spin, last time?  Well, he decided he would do it this time.  He has an incredibly strong Morgan neck, and try as I might, I couldn't keep him from spinning.  It is a very slow spin, as I said.  I just had him slowly spin back to where he started and insisted he step in the water.  Once he got his front feet in, I clicked and treated him.  After that, it was easy.  He walked across steady and careful.  Such a good horse.

Ellen had no trouble getting Cole in the water, this time.  I was already across, and I could barely look once I started to hear all of Ellen's shrieks, groans and chatter.  You would think that Cole was being the worst horse in te world.  When I finally looked back, I saw him going as slow and careful as Dante.  He was just ignoring Ellen--smart horse.

On the other side, Dante had one little spook, but I didn't see what caused it.  It was one of those quick side-step spooks.  After that, we trotted most of the way to the next river crossing where we met Kevin and Starry, coming back from their ride.

We planned to walk all the way home, since it was only Dante's second ride.  We didn't know if Starry would take the lead--because he obsesses so much about following Dante.  We started with Cole in the lead and Starry second.  That was a good start.  Many times, last year, it was a fight just to do that.  After a bit, Ellen turned Cole back and Starry willingly took the lead.  It was wonderful.  He led nearly the rest of the way home.

Ellen did better, crossing the river on the way home.  All the horses were good--the ride was a success.  Ellen thinks that I will have to ride Dante across the river, next time, but she will switch horses on the other side.  Why not? Dante has been such an angel.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Time for Dante

Time for Dante

It's is spring and time to get the horses on the trail--and it's time for Ellen's anxieties to return.

Ellen is a great rider, and she has a great horse.  Both of them love to go trail riding, but Ellen has a bunch of anxieties that like to go with them.  This year, her only real anxiety is the river.  She has crossed that river, literally, hundreds of times, and Dante is a decent river crosser.  Unfortunately, last year she had a bad experience.  Towards the very end of the riding season, she tried to cross it when it was a little on the high side--but totally crossable.  I know, because I crossed it first, and my horse is short.  When she got to the edge of the river, she panicked.  She just couldn't bring herself to cross.  Instead, she turned and went home.

The next time she went to cross the river, Dante decided he would just turn and go home.  She worked him through the problem, and then had a nice ride after that.  The problem was, the river was too high to cross for several weeks after that, and she lost her nerve.  That was it for the year.

Ellen had all winter to let her anxiety grow to a humongous, almost insurmountable size.  She didn't even think she could cross on Cole; or even Starry; who is our most reliable river crosser.  Every time I thought she might go out for a ride, she had a reason to postpone it.  I was truly starting to think I was going to have a second trail horse, this year.  (In a way, I kinda liked that idea, but I would rather ride with Ellen and Dante than just Dante.)

One day, the weather was warm and the river was low. She had no good excuse.  She still didn't want to go on the trail, and it took a lot of convincing on my part to get her to go--but she only wanted Cole.

Anyone who reads about our adventures knows how ironic that is.  Cole is, by far, the most challenging horse that we ever had.  He can be very reliable, but he also loves to go very, very fast.  He is the fastest horse I ever rode.  He has nearly as fast a trot as Ranger and Cruiser--and a super fast gallop.  That isn't so bad, since I trained him to listen to slowing down cues, but he can be intimidating.  His biggest flaw is random "Cole Bursts."  That is when he just jumps up and takes off in a joyful manner.  You have to be on your toes to stop him before he gets too fast or disrupts the other horses.

Cole doesn't spook much, but Dante spooks even less.  Dante has slower, steadier gaits, too.  I don't know if he ever just burst for no reason.  He is just a plain old, reliable pony.

And Ellen feels safer on Cole.

Cole has always, always taken good care of Ellen. 

We headed out on our ride.  Since Dante hadn't been on the newly repaired hill, I led him down it to be on the safe side.  He was fine.  In typical Dante fashion, he just looked around at everything.  He is quite the sight seer.

Ellen mounted at the mounting block at the bottom of the hill and rode Cole down the bank.  Cole must have felt Ellen's nervousness, because when he got to the edge, he froze.  He said that Ellen was too afraid to cross the river, and he wasn't going to make her.

I was worried that Dante would do his "slow spin" at the edge of the river.  He does that every year the first time crossing.  I know, because I always end up riding him the first time across.  Much to my surprise, Dante marched down the river bank and stepped right into the water!  He crossed carefully, and then we waited for Cole on the other side.

And waited.  And waited.  Cole wasn't going to cross.  He never refuses to cross for me, so the only reason he could be balking had to be because of Ellen.  She said she was so scared that she was shaking.  The water was well below the horses knees--she is definitely having some form of cognitive dissonance.  She said it is like someone hijacked her brain.  She knows the river isn't too high to cross, but her brain is out of control.

Ellen didn't give up, and Cole finally carefully crossed.  On the other side of the river, we walked and then did a little bit of trotting.  Dante was so good--it was like he never had the winter off.  I mean, he was perfect!  That is incredible for his first time, out.  We went about 10 minutes, turned around and walked home. 

It was an amazing ride.  I'm starting to think I wouldn't mind Dante as my second trail horse...

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Back on the Trail

Back on the Trail

The park finished working on our hill trail, and it was worth the wait.  They did a terrific job.  They still plan to fix the river banks by bringing river shale from a different part of the river to replace the mud.  As it is, we can get through it--it just isn't pleasant.

We wasted no time getting back on the trail--we were out the very evening they took down the barriers.  I had taken Cole on a few rides back before they closed it, but none of the other horses had crossed the river since before river froze.

We expected to have very hyper horses on our hands, but something happened.  Over the winter, aliens came to our barns and replaced our horses with horses that looked like and acted like our horses--but had been ridden on the trail all winter long.  They took the whole spring transition better than ever--even Bella!  Yes Bella!

And Starry?  He has only protested a few times about being in the lead--and all Kevin had to do was circle him, and he gave up fighting about it.

Sure, Cole has had a few Cole Bursts, but there have been very few.  I may re-name Cole Burst Corner.  It is the last corner on the hill on the way home.  That has always been a problem spot for us, but since the park fixed the hill, he has been perfect on it.

He did burst a few times when Vicki was riding Katie Perry with us.  She was in season, and Cole was very content to follow her--but when she got a little fast, he decided he didn't want to be left behind!

Perry was a little excited just to be out.  Poor Vicki was just getting her riding legs back, and she wanted to take it easy.  Perry gave her a funny trot that bounced her all about.  From behind, she looked like a Standardbred--not a Thoroughbred.  Her trot was just like a Standardbred warming up on the track--when the driver is holding the horse back.

There have been some random spooks--but they were the kind that you would expect any time of the year.  Once there was a low-flying plane on the hill that created such a vortex that I could feel the breeze it made and it blew a bunch of leaves right at Bella's feet.  That caused her to jump--and Starry and Cole thought she had a great idea.

We have had some issues with wild turkeys on the hill.  Random gobbling caused a few spooks.  Some dogs charged at Bella, (so glad they were on leashes,) and that caused her to freak out--causing Cole to freak out, too.  We were able to calm them down very quickly.

Bur for the amount of riding we have done in the last few weeks, it has been amazing how few difficulties we have had with the horses.

Now, we just have to get Ellen and Dante out with us!

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Friday, April 5, 2019

Thursday, April 4, 2019

News Flash!!!

News Flash!!!

The trail is coming along, very nicely.  Honestly, they didn't do very much for the last week, and we were starting to get worried.  Worries no more.

As of now, the bottom third of the trail has been resurfaced.  All the gravel has been tamped down and covered, too, but not with the same stuff that the bottom third of the trail has--so we are expecting another layer, there.

The eroding part--has been fixed, too.

So far, it is better than we ever imagined.  It shouldn't be much longer, and then I will have things to write about, again.  After all, Shari is planning to bring Bella with us--and that always gives us something to write about!

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

The Loop, the Loop and More Loop

The Loop, the Loop and More Loop

Unable to use our trail, (which is killing us--the weather has been so nice--the river usually low--and the winter seemed so long...) that leaves us only with the arena, riding on the loop or taking the street to get to the trails.  It is about a 15-minute trip, one way, on the road.  There isn't much room for the horses, there are bends and dips in the road and the cars go awfully fast.  Some people have been doing it, but we decided it wasn't worth the risk.

I really just don't feel like riding in the arena, anymore.  It is so hard to ride in there when it is a nice day, outside.  That leaves the loop for me.

The loop a a quarter mile track--half of it is so muddy in the spring that we seldom use it.  We go halfway, turn around and go back to the start.  Some days are dry enough that we can do full laps, but Cole complains so much about the mud, I don't like to do it unless it is fairly dry.  March means rain and snow.  There were only a few days I could make it all the way around.

It sounds like it would be easy, just going around the loop, but I have more trouble there, then in the park. I think it is because half of the time, we are heading towards home.  Some days, Cole is perfect.  Other days, not so much.

Starry does well by himself, most of the time, but it seems like if there is another horse with him, he transforms into a maniac.

I'm not kidding.  Of course, there is the thing about how he doesn't like to be in the lead, but Kevin just circles him until he listens.  That isn't so bad.  The problem is that sometimes he just gets a strange attitude--trying to buck and bounce--tail swishing.  All of this terrifies Cole.  Maybe that is what Starry wants to do?  He is the worst if there is a horse off in the distance that is on the loop or turned loose in the outdoor arena. 

The other night, he was the worst, yet.  He started fighting and bouncing.  Kevin hopped off and tried to settle him down.  He then began to rear.  Poor Cole--it was too much for him.  He went flying backwards.  I tried to spin him to get him back under control, and he reared, too.

That was enough for me--and I dismounted.  We struggled to get the horses back to the barn.  Cole settled down quicker that Starry.  I really felt bad for Kevin.  He took Starry in and lounged him.  I got back on Cole and did some quiet riding until he calmed down.  All of this started because Starry saw another horse out on the loop that horse passed us.

That wasn't the first time that Starry had a meltdown on the loop in March, but it was the worst one.

Then, there is the unexpected things that can happen.  Since we are so close to home--guess where they want to run if they spook.  Poor Ellen got it the worst when she was out by herself, this week.  She was riding at a walk towards the barn, and at the barn next door, a dozen wild turkeys took off and flew!

Poor Dante!  He dashed towards the barn.  His first thought was to run into the barn.  Ellen was able to swerve him away from that.  A few seconds later, she got him stopped.  She lost both stirrups, but she didn't lose her balance.  (It is always better to lose both stirrups than one.  That way, you don't put all your weight on one side.)

She had Dante stand until he quieted down, and then they did a little more riding before quitting.

There is always the risk of being back there when they decide to use the tractor.  The horses aren't too bad for that, but it isn't fun.  The other night, I was out there alone when, 2 doors down, the kid decided to ride his dirt bike all around.  That ruined that ride.  I stayed out there, but I only walked.  It's things like that.

We do do some trotting when the footing is good.  That make it a bit more interesting--and helps keep us warmer on the chilly days.  When riding on the loop isn't scary, for whatever reason, it gets a bit boring.

We are really, really looking forward to the trail being finished.