Monday, August 24, 2020
We Finished the Tevis Cup Virtual Ride!
We Finished the Virtual Tevis Cup!
I knew I would be finishing my 100 miles in 100 days on this ride, since I only had just over 2 miles to go.
When I got to the barn, I told Ellen, and I also told her it was rather anti-climactic. I actually was a little sad that it would be over for me. This has been a lot of fun to have a goal when I ride. Every so often, I would reach a milestone, and then I could read about what I would be doing if I was actually riding in the real Tevis Cup.
It was just Ellen and me, going out for a quick ride because it was a work day for her. We decided to do a lot of cantering. Since Cole canters so much faster than Dante, it would mean I would be spending much of the time by myself. I would canter a section of trail, wait for her to catch up and then canter the next section. I am so glad that Dante doesn't mind us cantering faster than him.
I didn't know where the Tevis finish line would be for me, so I decided to celebrate it at the second river crossing where we were going to turn around to go home. This last stretch of trail is so terrific for cantering, that we have called it "The Canter Stretch" for many, many years.
I said goodbye to Ellen and Dante, and we took off at a canter. And what a fine canter it was. It was very fast and yet controlled. Cole and I were a team. I didn't feel like a passenger as I sometimes do when he canters. I felt like we were one. It was lovely.
We slowed down before we got to the end, and I asked him to just trot. He did so willingly. Suddenly, I got it in my head that this would be the perfect "Black Stallion Moment." "The Black Stallion" is our favorite horse movie. (If you've never seen it--you must.") When Alec tames The Black and is riding him on the beach, he stretches his arms out as they gallop. This was my moment--even though we were only trotting.
I dropped the reins, put my arms out and breathed in the happiness of the moment. I thought of my old horse, Cruiser, the one I should have been riding the Tevis Cup on and smiled. He was with me in my heart.
And then Cole, as if to remind me that he wasn't Cruiser, but an awesome horse in his own right, started, (in true Cole fashion for loving to perform,) to do his show trot. His show trot is his big, impulsive, springy trot that any dressage competitor would kill for. He performs it very collected--reins not needed. As I posted along with no reins, his trot got bigger and bigger. He was doing a "Full Cole Train" trot.
As with Alec on The Black, I suddenly was in the scene where he is riding The Black in a race--and I can hear the applause of the crowd--though no one was there to see this private moment. Alec then flashes back to beach, where it is just the two of them--just as it was just the two of us, riding as one--for the joy of the moment.
(I think I may have seen the movie a few too many times.)
We arrived at the river, turned around and waited for Ellen to catch up with us. What a wonderful experience.
We finished 41st out of 993 riders and it took us 32:25. It really made me appreciate how much the real riders do when I consider that they do it all in less than 24 hours in one day.
There is still time to sign up and do it yourself. It goes on until November 8.
Friday, August 21, 2020
A Fun Ride
My sister, Ellen, and I took Cole and Dante out for a ride together. We each had our little goals, but the mail goal was just to enjoy ourselves.
I wanted to do more cantering than I have been doing this summer. There is one part of the trail that I used to let him gallop. It was a lot of fun, but he got into some bad habits--and that prevented me from being able to canter with other horses, there. I miss cantering! There are other places I can canter where he doesn't get out of control, but this is the best section of the trail for it.
The last few times I tried cantering here, he had very faulty brakes. I wanted to re-install his brakes as well as slow him down a little.
Dante is all right with us going on ahead of him. Ellen canters, too, but much slower. She wanted to get Dante to canter from a walk instead of a trot.
She also wanted to work with him on the second river crossing. The last time he crossed towards home, something startled him and he took off up the river bank. She wanted to make sure he would quietly walk up it, instead.
What wonderful cantering we had! Ellen got a couple good walk/canter transitions. I was able to stop and re-start Cole 3 times. Each time, I clicked him and gave him a carrot. Consequently, each time he got better. The hard part about clicker training is waiting for the correct behavior to click. Once you get that, it gets easy quite quickly.
We crossed over the river to the other side. At the bottom of the hill, there were a bunch of high school kids with their coach. They were running up and down the hill. As soon as they saw us, they were told to stop and let us through. We love it when the coaches are there to help us out! Once the kids learn it, they never need to be told, again.
We trotted the next section of trail. At one point, Dante spooked for no reason and went cantering off for a few strides. Ellen is a big believer, (and I agree with her,) that all horses need to be cantered on the trail for times like this. She never lost her seat, and when she told Dante to trot, he did, because that is what he has been trained for.
When we got to the last section of trail, we opted to just walk. It is out in the open and fairly close to the street. There are a lot of noisy trucks that go down the street. Whenever a bad one would rumble by, we would stop the horses. If they stood well, we would sometimes click them and give them a carrot as a reward.
There was a time in our lives where we would have just ridden through and hoped for the best. It is nice that now we don't have to if we don't want to. In fact, when the horses see a noisy vehicle, they aren't afraid--they are hoping they will get a click.
We turned around and headed home. When we got to the river, Dante ended up doing one of his best river crossings there--ever! Ellen was so thrilled. When she learn that she needed to keep laser focus on the task of crossing the river, he sure did improve. Other than the incident on the previous ride, he just keeps getting better.
We did some trotting, and Dante tried cantering, again! Ellen easily brought him back to a trot.
There was one part of the trail that is in a very thickly wooded area. We aren't too far from the street, but we can't see it. The trail is also fairly narrow. We heard a really loud piece of machinery. We didn't know what it was, but we are guessing that it was a mower--it sounded awful. I saw Dante's head go up in fear. Just as I yelled to Ellen to turn him around--she decided to turn him around, too. I stopped Cole. He seemed fine, but Dante looked terrified.
(It is good to turn a frightened horse away from the direction of home--also, Cole was blocking the trail so he was less likely to bolt the other way.)
The machine slowed down a little and was a bit quieter. As Dante stood there, I could see his eyes softening. The panic was being replaced with hope--that if he stood still, he would get a click and a treat!
The machine started back up and both horses stood like statues. And, of course, they got a click and a treat.
The rest of the ride was uneventful and just plain fun. We met all of our goals of the day--particularly the part about having fun.