Monday, December 28, 2020

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Friday, December 25, 2020

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Friday, December 18, 2020

Just like July

Just like July

It is often hard to get a good day to ride in the snow over here in Northeast Ohio.  We have to contend with ice on the river, ice on the hill, ice on the driveway, ice on the trail, high winds, frigid temps and sometimes rain.  It seems like some winters we only get 5 days that we can have a good ride in the snow.  Well, Shari and I just had 3 in a row.

The first day was an evening ride.  For many possible reasons, Bella and Cole were both a little spunky.  It might have been because it was our first evening ride together in a few months, maybe it was the cold and snow and possibly it had something to do with it being close to feeding time.  We did some trotting.  Bella was bouncy, but not bad.  Cole tried to blast past her at one point--which is very rare.  Cole doesn't like to pass other horses.  Overall, they did all right, but we could tell that we had a lot of horse underneath us, and it demanded caution.  We turned back early because it was starting to get dark and walked all the way home.

The next morning, I met Shari at the barn.  She works close by, and they allow her some flexibility with her hours.  Since she starts so early in the morning, her lunch is right at riding time.  She rides and then goes back to finish her day--making up for the time she is spending at the barn.

Our horses transformed over night.  We had such a terrific ride.  Bella did spook at a rock she has seen many times that had snow on it.  That gave us a good laugh.  We trotted all the way to the second river crossing, turned around and trotted most of the way back.  They were awesome.  It was just like riding in July.

The lastg big snowstorm we had lowered a lot of branches, but this time we didn't stop to go under them.  We kept trotting and bent low over their necks.  Both horses thought that meant to go faster.  Duck rush.  It was funny. 

Just like July, but there were no bugs.  Just like July but there was hardly anyone else around.  Just like July, but there wasn't even any traffic on the road.  Not just like July--better than July!!!

After having that much fun, Shari had to do it again the next morning.  We got a little more snow overnight, and it was so pretty out!

The third day was a charm.  Well, so was the second day.  We trotted out.  This time, we let the horses go faster, and they really seemed to enjoy it. 

When we turned around to go home, we slowed down the trot and headed home.  At one very muddy part, I decided to slow Cole down for a moment to prevent mud rush.  He hates mud.  We do this often, and just catch up with whoever we are riding with.  Well, when we got in the middle of the mud, Cole jumped into a canter.  He had a serious case of mud rush, and he wanted to catch up with Bella.

I yelled out, "Problem."  Shari stopped Bella and turned her.  I couldn't get Cole to stop because I was concentrating on the branches I was ducking.  Duck rush didn't help.  When Cole saw Bella turn around, he slammed on the brakes.  I felt him sitting down under me as we slid up to Bella.  It was really quite funny.

We continued on our way home with no other issues except a little hyperness.  

It really was just like July, but better.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

A New Challenge Begins


 A New Challenge Begins

I may have had Cole for over 10 years, and he might just happen to be a trail horse, extraordinaire, but there are still things that we need to work on.  This might sound odd to most of the people reading this, but he was so bad in the outdoor arena at the old barn, that I just gave up trying to ride in it.  He always wanted to bolt towards the gate.

Now, I had that problem in the indoor arena, too, but I always had plenty of opportunities to work on it--like all winter.  Actually, I had to work on it every single winter.  Those first few rides could be rather scary.

The old outdoor arena was not rideable on those rainy, snowy and very cold days.  It was sand, and it would just get to sloppy.  The days when it was dry, of course I was out riding on the trail.

The arena at the new place has all-weather footing.  I really want to be able to ride in it without worrying about Cole misbehaving.

The other day, when I got back from a trail ride, I rode him just 2 laps in the outdoor arena.  He tried to bolt twice.  It was time to work up a plan.  Fortunately, I have had the experience in the old indoor arena to give me guidance.

I decided I would start by riding him 5 laps in each direction at a walk.  That is a rather boring thing to do, but I brought Ellen along with me on foot.  Her job was to talk to me to help me pass the time.  I knew that the first few laps were the critical ones.  The rest of the laps were for cementing the good habit of walking like a gentleman.  That is when I really needed Ellen--to make sure I really did them.  She also was in charge of counting the laps.  Sometimes, I forget which lap I am on.

This technique is what worked best with Cole in the old indoor arena.  I am glad to say that I have had virtually no problem in the new indoor arena.

Ellen gave me a lot of space in the beginning, so that Cole wouldn't trample her when he bolted.  It wasn't necessary.  He was really good.

He did get distracted and a little worried about things on the first couple laps each direction, but that is all.  It took us about 20 minutes to do it.  When we were done, I brought him in the center and walked some circles and did a few serpentines.  He seemed happy to be doing something less boring--or maybe that was me.

Finally, I asked him to trot a bit.  This is when he got excited, again.  I didn't do much--that will be for another day.

As a reward for a very good training lesson, I let him do some tricks and he got clicked for them.  The whole ride was a success.



Monday, December 14, 2020

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Thursday, December 3, 2020

November: An Uneventful Month


November: An Uneventful Month

Well, as uneventful a month can be for the first one at a new barn.  We are still getting used to the routines, meeting new people and acclimating to riding in new areas.  Of course, the trails are the same, and that really helps.

We had some bad weather early in the month, but that was followed by a few weeks of fantastic weather.  Not only was it good weather for November, but it was so good that we would have taken it any month of the year.  We were riding out on the trail nearly every day.

The more trail riding we do, the better the horses behave.  I mean we are talking about near perfection.  There was one time when I was trotting home with Shari, and I could just hear her giggling with happiness.  That got me giggling, too.

Dante did have a big buck and took off cantering, but we know he was just feeling joyful. He settled down after that.

We saw the bald eagles at least twice.  The first time, I was riding with Shari and she started making odd noises--like she was trying to say something and the words wouldn’t form.  I knew that had to mean she saw a bald eagle.  I looked to where she was pointing, and saw him gliding down the river.  He landed on a tree, and we watched him until he flew off, again.

A few days later, we saw him again, flying along the river.

There was another time we saw a large bird that didn’t have a white head, but it also didn’t look like a hawk.  He was sitting in a tree right on the hill that leads down to the river.  We were wondering if it might be an immature eagle. They don’t get the white feathers until later in life.  Oh how wonderful it would be if he liked our hill and made a nest in the area!

We did end up with some high river rides.  Ellen spent a lot of time riding Dante up and down the hill.  Last year, she was afraid to even do that.  This year, she confesses that she is getting bored with it.  

Ellen had to work a few Saturdays, when the weather was good, so I took advantage of the situation and rode Dante on the trail.  He was really good for me, but so slow!  What a contrast with Cole.  Now I know why we are always waiting for them to catch up.  How could she possibly be nervous about riding such a quiet horse?  Anxieties are not logical, that is for sure.  I still think she is the bravest person I know.  It doesn’t matter if a horse is quiet or not.  If you have to overcome anxieties to go on a ride, that is bravery.

We like the new indoor arena.  It is a quieter place to ride with much less distractions.  That really helps Ellen since Dante stops whenever he hears an odd noise.  She is spending more time riding during her riding time.  Cole is also much less spooky in it.  Not once has he bolted--which was a common occurrence in the old arena.  Consequently, I am more relaxed when I ride in it.  Just the same, I only ride in it when I have to.

The outdoor track is very small compared to the large quarter-mile one we had at the old place.  It isn’t as interesting, either.  There are no deer, coyotes or turkeys hiding alongside it to scare the horses, either.  There is always good and bad with everything.  

I have only tried the large, outdoor arena a couple times.  Cole got very excited in it and did a pretty big buck.  I can see that it will take us a little time for him to settle down out there.  Starry did very well, though he got stuck once when he was stepping over the poles.  He stepped his front legs over and stopped.  Then he wasn’t sure what to do with his hindlegs.  He backed up and knocked the pole down.  I don’t know if he ever worked with poles before.

Kevin is trying to teach Starry to lunge.  We are not allowed to turn the horses loose in the indoor or outdoor arenas, so Kevin can’t just free lunge him like he used to.  I taught Starry to lunge a couple times in the past.  It was a challenge, but after a half dozen lessons he would understand.  Unfortunately, Kevin never kept up at it, and Starry quickly lost the skill.

I showed Kevin how to guide Starry around him at a walk.  Since Starry didn’t understand what we were asking of him, Kevin had to be very patient.  He would click him when he started doing something right, and that helped.  He now tells me that he is ready to start some trotting.  I gave him my lunge line to use.  When I was able to get him to trot in the past, things fell into place fairly quickly.  It will depend on Kevin’s coordination and timing the clicking.

Ellen is thinking of trying to teach Dante to lunge, too, just for the training challenge.  She really prefers to ride.  I told her she could practice with Cole.

My goal with Cole this winter is to learn how to ride in the arena without creating rub spots on his body where my legs touch his side.  His arena trot has a lot of motion to it, and I need to keep my legs away from him.  So far, it hasn’t been easy.  Maybe it will be a mild winter and I can spend most of my time on the trail like last year.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Monday, November 30, 2020

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Monday, November 23, 2020

Sunday, November 22, 2020


 What do you do when you want to sketch your black horse in color? Make him blue. Cole Train

Saturday, November 21, 2020

The Making of Dante

  The Making of Dante

Friday, November 20, 2020

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Tricks are for Cole

 Tricks are for Cole

When we kept our horses at the old barn, I had a hard time turning Cole out in the outdoor arena.  Something would come over him.  He would go running and running--neighing and neighing.  When he was tired, he would bang at the gate because he wanted to go back in.  He just didn't like it out there.  When I led him out, he would be all agitated, and I would have to settle him down--something I usually did by asking him to do tricks.  I couldn't even ride him in the outdoor arena--he would just feel like he was going to explode.  

As a better option, I often let him loose in the indoor arena while I was cleaning stalls.  That way, he could run if he felt like it, roll and look for hay scraps--which there were plenty of since the hay loft overlooked the arena.  He seemed very content in there.

Well, at this barn, we can't turn our horses loose in the indoor arena.  If you saw it, you would understand.  The arena is lovely, and they take such good care of it.  They are always raking the sand up from the edges, and it is watered at least once a day.  Though It has to be about 30 years old, you could never tell by looking at it.  It is immaculate.

We have great places to turn our horses out outside.  There is a large round pen, a paddock and a big pasture.  (The pasture is closed this time of year.) There is also a large riding arena that we can't turn out in.  It has all-weather footing.  So does the small track we can ride on.  We really like that there is always a place we can ride at this barn, and we never have to wait for people to take out their turned out horses--and they aren't pressuring us to shorten our rides so they can turn their horses out.

The first few times I turned Cole out, he was fine.  I thought we left his problem behind.  Then one day, he started up again.  He was going round and round the round pen--neighing.  Then he started to fret at the gate until I brought him in.  I was hoping this was an anomaly, but I got the same response the next time I tried it.

I had a problem.  

Ellen said I should try reviewing his tricks when he was in the round pen.  That way, I could keep his brain in a good place.  It was worth a try.

One day, after a fun trail ride, I unsaddled him and went into the round pen with him.  At first, I kept him on the lead rope so that he knew he was on the job.  I walked around the perimeter and asked him to lower his head by pointing to the ground.  He did, but normally when I ask him to do that, he starts to do his silly walk.  When he didn't, I knew he was a little uneasy.

We did some parking out, trotting in hand and silly walk upon request, and he seemed a little better.  I could tell he was thinking of rolling, so I let him loose.  There is nothing like a good roll.  He jumped up and did some running, but it was very reasonable running.  I asked for some trotting on command, and he would make it about half way around and burst into a run.  I didn't mind.  My goal wasn't perfection.  My goal was sanity. He only ran a short distance and then we would do some more tricks.

He stopped by Ellen who was standing outside the fence.  She asked him to park out and then she asked him to do silly walk, and he was happy to comply.  I did some more with him, and he was just loving it.

We got to work on a new trick we have been playing around with every now and then over the last few months.  He parks out, and I stand in front of him about 5 feet away.  I then walk backwards; stomping my feet--and he does silly walk towards me.  He was doing it great!  This is the first time I ever tried it at liberty and probably only the fifth lesson.

When I quit, he just stood by the gate; quietly.  There was not pawing or pacing.  My goal was achieved. 

I know that he isn't completely cured, but now we have something we can do to keep him relaxed.  When I taught Cole his tricks, (and I always say there isn't a trick I have taught him that I didn't come to regret at times,) I never thought there would be such practical applications.

And doing tricks at liberty is fun.  Since I no longer have to clean the stalls or do feeding 3 times a week, I have more time just to spend with Cole.  He is a wonderful horse; who can be just so much fun.  Now, I just need to find a few more tricks to teach him.  (Tricks that I will probably regret at times...)

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Monday, November 16, 2020

Friday, November 13, 2020

Thursday, November 5, 2020

First Real Trail Ride from the New Barn

 First Real Trail Ride from the New Barn

The next day was our first trail ride from the new barn.  I had planned to go with Ellen, but she thought the river was too high to cross.  She was going to leave Dante at the barn and meet me on the other side of the river to go for a walk with us.  There was no sign of Kevin, so I headed out by myself.

The new barn is just about as far south from the trail head as the old barn was far north.  The walk on the street was really no big deal.  That is, until the deer came flying out of a yard, across the street and into the woods.  That made Cole dance about.  It also woke him up to the fact that he was all by himself.  He started to neigh.

He neighed and neighed; all the way down the hill.  I could feel the tension in his body.  I asked him to trot a little to test his mood, and to my surprise, he trotted like a sane horse.

I knew he would settle down when he saw Ellen on the other side of the river, and I was right.  He marched over to her, and we walked together for a little while.  When he seemed really calm, I asked him to trot; and away we went.  He was back to his old self.  We trotted out to the next river crossing, turned around and headed back to meet Ellen.  It sure did feel wonderful; after all the stress of the last few days; to just trot out on the trail.

We walked back the the river crossing with Ellen.  Off in the distance, we thought we could hear Starry neighing.  Was it just in our heads, since we had been hearing him neighing so much the last few days?  No, how could it be?  We both heard it.

Then we heard him, again.  We looked and saw Kevin leading Starry down the hill on the other side.  Kevin started to yell something to us.  I couldn't hear what he said, but he had a panicked sound to his voice.  I knew that Starry (and Kevin) needed Cole as soon as possible.  Cole could do for Starry what Ellen did for him.

Starry was wired.  Kevin said that he tried to put the reins over his head, but they got caught on his ear--the kiss of death for Starry.  Even on a good day, that makes him very unreasonable.  When Kevin first bought him, he was extremely head shy.  Over time, that has gone away; except if the reins get caught on his ear--even on a good day--let alone a day that Starry was feeling emotional.

I hurried to get to Kevin.  The moment Cole caught up to him, Starry transformed into his old self.  Kevin wasn't going to ride because of Starry's mood, and he knew that Starry would have a fit when Cole passed him.  I told him I would ride down the hill with him.  

There is a mounting block at the bottom.  Kevin got on and was going to ride home with me.  I told him that I would go out on a short ride with him across the river.  We crossed and had a lovely ride.  Everything went just perfectly.  Kevin also commented on how good it felt to ride after the stressful weekend.

When we got back to the barn, Ellen was just about to start riding in the indoor arena.  She mostly just walked Dante around to get him used to it.  She then trotted a little and called it a day.  

I turned Cole out to roll in the round pen.  It wasn't long before he was ready to come in.  Some of our fellow boarders were sitting outside in the sun, talking.  Since our new barn is right down the street from the old one, we have known many of the people there for years.  Some of them even remember Cruiser, Ranger and Mingo.  Though they had seen Cole and Dante many times, they didn't know much about them.

As I was going by, I stopped Cole to chat with them.  Of course, Cole parked out.  He can look quite magnificent when he does.  They were oohing and ahhhing.   He realized there was an audience, so he started bowing.  The audience was delighted, so he did it again, and again.  The audience cheered.

I know that Cole will do tricks all day, so I figured I better get him out of there before I ran out of carrots.  Of course, Cole couldn't just walk away--he had to do his silly walk.  The audience loved it!  He did it a few more times before I could drag him away.  Now they know--Cole has been practicing to be a circus horse.

We turned Dante and Starry out to play together, and they had a wonderful time.  I think everything is going to work out at our new barn.

Monday, November 2, 2020

The Following Day

The Following Day

The weather was terrible!  It was raining, the temps were going down and as they did, the wind kept getting stronger.  (Later in the day, we got our first snow.)  

Since none of us slept very well, we met at the barn early in the morning.  Shari, too, of course.  It is going to be so nice to be at the same place as Shari!!!

Starry was still upset.  We thought that if he got to run and play a little with Bella, he would feel better.  He did, but as soon as he was back in his stall, he started neighing and circling.  He was acting up so much that Kevin was having trouble handling him. 

We let Dante out to play in the mud, and he had a lot of fun.  Cole was doing very well, so I told Shari I would ride with her on the hill.  Ellen and Kevin came along with us without their horses.  Kevin didn't even know if he could safely saddle Starry, and Ellen was just too nervous to bring Dante.

All I can say about Cole is that he was a superstar.  I would have never known that I even moved him.  He was great on the new section of the street, and as soon as he got to the trail, he was as good as could be.  I was so proud of him.  Remember, I thought he would have to most trouble adapting due to being a higher energy horse.

We only did two trips on the hill because it looked like it was going to storm.  When we got back to the barn, we rode in the arena for a little bit to get Cole accustomed to it.  He did well, but then the wind got really bad and we thought the storm arrived, so we quit.  A few minutes later, the sun was out.  

Shari went home, and Ellen thought we should take Dante for a walk.  He did great in the indoor arena, but when we took him outside for a walkabout, he was high headed and bouncy.  Just like Cole, he spooked at the fountain.  I was doing the leading because Ellen was feeling nervous.  She was the smart one, because I was the one who got my foot stepped on--twice.

The wind was getting really bad, and we all know how horses can be on a windy day.  We quit while we were ahead.  

That still left Starry, who continued to neigh.  Kevin left to go back to the old barn and get his salt block.  Starry still wasn't drinking very much, and I thought the salt block may give him something to do and encourage him to drink.

Ellen had some lavender oil, so she put dots of it in Starry's stall.  She had read that lavender calms a horse as well as a tranquilizer.  If there was ever a horse that needed a tranquilizer, it was poor Starry.  His stall smelled like a flower garden.  

By the time that Kevin got back with the stall block, Starry was standing quietly for the first time since he moved in.  He looked like he was about to fall asleep.  Was it really the lavender?  We couldn't say for sure, but it was sure nice to seem him calm.

Kevin stopped by later in the afternoon, and Starry seemed agitated, again.  He put more dots of lavender in his stall.

We both stopped again in the evening.  Starry was quietly munching his hay, and we were told that he was drinking.  What a relief.  Starry was finally starting to relax.

Sunday, November 1, 2020

The Big Move

 The Big Move

It has been a time of many changes.  First of all, the mechanic who was supposed to fix my leaky gas tank on my 13-year-old car refused.  He said there was so much rust underneath that the car was not safe to drive.  They had trouble just getting it on the lift to take a look at it.  It was time to get a new car.

I spent a few weeks shopping for it, and ended up with a 2019 Chevy Cruze.  I have to confess, though the car looks nice, drives nice and fits into my budget, part of the reason I picked it was its name.  Yes, I chose a Cruze because of my dear horse, Cruiser.  The car is even red, and Cruiser was a chestnut.  I plan to put Cruiser's name sign in the car.  Of course, no car can be to me what Cruiser was to me, but I can smile every time I think of the name.

Once that was out of the way, it was time to focus on the big move.  We had to move our horses to a new boarding stables at the end of the month.  Since we were at the old stable for nearly 20 years, that meant going though a lot of accumulated junk; throwing out and consolidating things and deciding what to bring to the new place.  We would have less space to store it there, but that isn't such a bad thing.  Most of what I had I didn't need to keep at the barn.  It's just that when you have had 3 horse with all their various medical issues and training projects over 20 years--it just means there is a lot of accumulation.  Ellen had the same problem because she had 2 horses.  Kevin had no such excuse.

Moving day finally arrived.  We were out early for our morning ride with Shari.  Unfortunately, we couldn't cross the river because it was too high.  Ellen, Shari and I rode up and down the hill three times.

We had a lot of time when we got back to the barn because we didn't want to move them until they ate their lunch, so Ellen and I went for a walk in the park and then a quick bite to eat at Burger King.  When we got back, we cleaned out their stalls and packed up our cars.  The horses all knew there was something up.  We then got Kevin and walked them over to the new place.

It is only 4 doors down the street, so that wasn't a big deal.  The guys led well.  Their stalls were ready with some hay for them to munch on, and we worked out all the details with the owner.

We took Cole for a walk to look around.  He was very alert and didn't even try to do any tricks.  I let him out to play; where he had a good roll in the mud.  He did spook at the fountain in the pond, and then he got scared to step on a rubber aisle mat on the way back to his stall.  That was easy to coax him onto--I just had Ellen walk on it first and he was happy to follow her.

Ellen decided not to take Dante out.  Kevin was still at the old barn cleaning out his old stall when we left.

Later that evening, Kevin and I went to check on them.  I thought Cole would be the most worried about the move, followed by Dante and Starry would do the best.  Starry is such a laid-back horse--and Dante, too.  Cole is the excitable. energetic one.

I was so wrong.  Dante was very relaxed.  Cole was a little excited, but after we walked around in the indoor arena, he settled down nicely.  He started doing all his tricks--and that was a terrific indicator of his mood.  He was talkative when I put him back in his stall and didn't stay with him, but that is how he always is.  He likes his people with him all the time.

Starry was a big-time wreck.  Even though this was hours after we moved him, she was still neighing, circling the stall and pawing incessantly.  Kevin did lead him around in the inside arena for quite a while, and he did much better, but as soon as he got back in his stall, he would start up, again.  We were really worried.  It didn't help that Starry kept hearing Cole calling out.

The barn owner was keeping an eye on him and said she would check him later and call if there was a problem.

I believe that Starry was upset because he was away from his friends.  He was acting much like Mingo did when I weaned him from his mother.

We never did get the phone call, so we just had to wait and see him the following morning.

We did have one more big change that day--the clocks changed and we gained an hour to sleep, but none of us slept well.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Friday, October 23, 2020

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Thursday, October 15, 2020

This is Just Too Much Fun

This is Just Too Much Fun

I don't really have much to write about, except that we are having a great time!  We love riding in October.  The weather is cooler, there are less bugs and the scenery leaves us speechless--it is so stunning.  We just can't get enough of it!  Cole hasn't gotten a day off in weeks.  Don't worry about him, though.  I am not riding him hard; just often.

Ellen is working on letting Dante have more rein so he could stretch out more, and he is going a little faster--but he is also grabbing more branches.  He is just diabolical.  If she gives him an inch, he takes a mile!  Just the same, there are plenty of times that he moves just as nice as he does in the arena.

They have been doing some exhilerating cantering, too!  (Was that a squeal I heard behind me?  Was that Dante or the ghost of Cruiser?)

Shari is also working with Bella to improve the quality of her trot, and judging from my point of view, (behind them,) they are doing really well.  

When we ride with Ellen, we do "The Dante."  We can't slow down quite down to "Dante Speed," but we do pretty good.  When Ellen isn't with us, we let them extend out.  If either one of them get too hyper, we just go back and do "The Dante."  We don't need Dante to do it.  It is great for us to be able to choose our speed.  Back when I rode Cruiser, that was one of my biggest challenges.  (The other one was getting him to pay attention to me.  I nearly always failed...)  

We still have trouble believing that this Bella is the same Bella Shari had when we met.  They have come so far!  

Because of Shari's current hours at her job, we mostly just ride together on the weekends.  During the week, I ride with Ellen when I ride in the morning and Kevin in the evening. Starry loves having less bugs!  

Cole has been doing pretty good.  Some days, he gets a little hyper and hard to hold.  Other days, he is so good, anyone could ride him.  He never gets tired in spite of all the riding.

I wish these days could go on forever...