Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Little Things

Little Things

Nothing big has happened to write about--and that is a good thing, but it still doesn't leave me anything to write about.  We have been riding on the trail steadily through the month, which is unusual for February in our climate.  There have been some really good rides, some good rides with little problems and a few bad rides.  It is always a little trickier when we ride in the colder weather.

A few times, Bella had too many days off of trail riding, and her excitement got the better of her.  I was with her on one of the rides.  We could only ride on the hill because the river was too high to cross.  Bella just wouldn't settle down and simply walk.  She was prancing and dancing all about.

Shari did just what always helps Bella on these days.  She would walk a little and ask her to stop and settle down.  This works, but it takes a little time.  We didn't go all the way up the hill, but would go a little further each time and then turn around and go back down to demoralize her when she got all bouncy.

When she did walk well, Shari would click her and give her a piece of carrot.  This went on for a long time.  Finally, Bella started to do really well.  We decided to ride up to the top, turn around and do one more trip to the river. 

On our way up, Cole spooked at some running deer.  I was able to stop him readily, but then I saw Bob with his two Labradoodles coming down the trail.  He saw us, put them on a leash and waited for us at Cole Burst Corner.  This is Cole's worst spot in the hole park.  It is a short slope on a corner, and I have consistently had troubles with him there since Day 1--hence the name.  I decided I would be better off on foot. 

Shari and I agreed that we would just call it a day.  Bob likes to let his dogs run loose, and Bella was just not mentally able to handle it.  We would be safe.

We approached Bob, talked to him for a minute and proceeded up Cole Burst Corner.  He burst.  He tried to run up it.  I think it was because Bob let his dogs loose and they started running down the trail away from us.  I struggled to keep Cole under control.  He set Bella off, too.  At the top of the hill, I was able to get him to stop, and he stood quietly.  Shari hopped off Bella.  I asked Cole to walk, and he exploded!  The dogs were nowhere near us at this point.  He tried to take off.  I circled him around me.  At one point he even reared.  Bella started acting up, too, and she stomped on Shari's foot really hard.  Every time I would get Cole to stop and then ask him to walk, he did it again.

After what seemed like an eternity, Cole settled down and we walked home.  Well, that is except for Shari. She limped home.

That was my worst day with Cole.  My best day happened a few weeks later.  The night before had been cold and ice was starting to freeze on the river.  I have been able to get him to step over the ice if it is only about a foot wide.  This particular morning, it was several feet wide.  He would have to step on the scary looking ice and break through it to cross the river.  This isn't as easy as it sounds.  None of our other horses would even attempt it.

Cole was amazing.  I know that he didn't want to step on it, because I could feel his hesitation.  I asked him for the first step and he did it! I clicked and treated him.  We still weren't close enough to the water.  The next step would be on ice, too.  I asked, he very cautiously stepped on it and earned another click.  One more step and his front feet would be in the water--but not his back.  He did that, too.  I clicked him and gave him a bunch of carrots.  He was awesome!

Bella has become troublesome crossing the river.  Sometimes Shari has to fight with her a few minutes before she will step into the water.  We think that Bella is being a prima donna; she thinks the water is too cold for her delicate legs.

That is, until the day that Starry joined us.  He went in first, and Bella followed right after him.  They have quite the romance going on.  Wherever Starry goes, Bella will follow.

One evening, I was riding with Shari.  We were on our way home, and a motorcycle came by and caused Bella to do her dance.  Shari got her to stop, I rode up to her, stopped Cole and we were talking.  A man came jogging towards us.  We were standing in the middle of the trail, and he politely asked which side we would like him to pass us.  There are some huge pieces of gravel washed up in the middle of the trail, and he was jogging on them.  Before we could answer, he began slowing to a stop, tripped on one of the rocks and went flying towards the ground.  He caught himself in time.  Bella and Cole simultaneously spun 180 degrees and tried to run down the trail.  We got them to stop and all had a good laugh.

On another ride, I was riding with Kevin.  We were trotting, and he came to a walk where the trail got rather hard.  Off to the side, he saw a squirrel.  He told me about it in case it startled Cole.  Then, he couldn't see it anymore.  As he looked around, the squirrel jumped out of the underbrush right by Starry and took off running.  Starry, the horse who hardly ever gets scared at anything, suddenly went sideways.  Cole just stood there and looked.  So much for Kevin trying to warn us to help me with Cole.

So, that's how our rides have been going.  Nothing big--just a bunch of little things to keep them entertaining. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Friday, February 14, 2020

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Full Bella

Full Bella

It is a real rarity to be able to go on a trail ride in January.  Usually, the river is frozen.  We have been very lucky, this year.  It was forming some ice, but then we had a big rain.  The river rose and washed all the ice away.  As soon as it was crossable, we were on the trail, again.

Shari tried to take Bella out by herself, and she was just terrible.  The worst part of the ride was when Bella refused to cross the river!  When Shari insisted, Bella became rebellious and was trying to rear.  Since she was alone, Shari decided she better not push the issue, and turned around to go back home.  Bella was so bad that Shari had to dismount and lead her up the hill.  Bella was still bad, but at least Shari was safer.  When she got back to the barn, she worked Bella.

I got the call the following morning.  Shari wanted to ride with me that evening.  She wasn't sure when she would escape work, so I said I would start down the trail, and she could catch up.

I was almost to the bottom of the hill, when we saw someone we know walking his dogs.  They were off the leash, but they are good with horses.  One dog was up ahead, and Cole was watching him.  The dog looked up, saw Cole and ran back to his owner.  Cole jumped, spun and tried to run up the hill.

As I was going through the spin, I heard Shari calling me.  There was Bella, speeding down the hill in search of Cole.  She didn't stop when she got to us; she just kept speeding by.  Bella was "Full Bella."

I asked Shari if I should go in the river first to encourage Bella to cross, but Shari declined.  She wanted to do it without a crutch.  Bella put up a fight.  Cole watched, quietly.  After about 5 minutes, I asked Shari if she needed a crutch, yet.  She was determined to do it on her own, and a few minutes later, Bella was in the water!

Once we got to the other side, we walked for a few minutes; hoping that Bella would settle down.  She didn't.  We decided to try a little trotting.  Now, it was time for Cole to get excited.  He kept encroaching into Bella's area--threatening to pass.  That was the last thing Bella needed.  We worked on trotting short stretches, walking a minute or 2 and then trotting, again.

One of the times, as Cole was doing his encroaching, Bella slammed on the brakes and spun away from something.  Cole immediately did the same thing, so it looked like we were doing it in unison.  Cole trotted a few steps, and then I spun him back.  There was Bella--head high and blowing--but we couldn't see what she was afraid of.  Cole was unperturbed.

Shari asked Bella to take a step, and she said she couldn't.  Something very dangerous was ahead.  We waited until Bella was a little more relaxed and tried again.  Finally, she stepped forward, but daintily as she danced around a strip of bark laying in the center of the trail.  A strip of bark!!!

We walked for a while until she calmed down and tried to do some more trotting.  They were both very hyper.  When we got to the end of the trail, we turned around and decided we would be best off to just walk home. 

Cole calmed down much quicker than Bella.  Actually, Bella never did calm down very much.  Her head was way up in the air, and she was doing a lot of prancing about.  She gave the strip of bark the evil eye as she passed it.  I was teasing Shari.  "Look how I can ride with a loose rein; and with only one hand."  "Look, my other hand is in my pocket."  She was laughing, of course.

We crossed up the hill, and rode about half way up, and decided it was just time to bail.  We led them home with no more difficulties.  As we walked, we made our plans to ride together the next day.

Early the following morning, I met Shari at the trail head.  Bella was a completely different horse.  She walked with her head low--for a National Show Horse, and Shari had a loose rein.  Just goofing around, Shari showed she could ride with no hands, at all.  Bella didn't care.  The ground was frozen, so we walked the whole ride.  Both horses were perfect.  Bella redeemed herself.