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Best 10 Minutes We Ever Spent

Best 10 Minutes We Ever Spent

Shari and I were riding Bella on a crisp October morning.  The river was a little higher than Ellen feels comfortable with, so she stayed at the barn to work Dante in the arena.  Shari hadn't ridden Bella in a couple of days, and Bella, well she was "Full Bella."  That's all right with us.  It just meant it was going to be a faster ride.

All went well on the first part of the ride.  The four of us were flying down the trail at a fast trot--and having a great time.  We crossed the second river crossing on the ford, went up the hill and trotted on the trail that goes alongside the sewer plant.  Bella was in the lead, so Shari saw the monkey balls, aka Osage Oranges, before I did.  They are large chartreuse green balls that are from the Osage Orange trees.  We see them all the time in this part of the trail, and we have been for years.  That wasn't the problem.  The problem was that someone put them in the shape of a peace sign--almost completely blocking the trail.

There was nothing peaceful about Bella when she saw them.  She stopped, snorted and didn't want to pass them.  Cole took over and led her by   He only sniffed them and wanted to taste one.  I didn't let him, of course. I have no idea if they are safe for horses to eat.  Besides, if he grabbed one in his mouth, who knows what Bella would have done!

Shari turned Bella to get her to look at the monkey balls, and it took her a bit before she wasn't afraid, anymore, but when we tried to continue down the trail, it was evident that the whole incident made her hyper.  She just didn't feel like relaxing.

We crossed the street to the final section of the trail which we call "Flane."  It is actually called "Falls Lane," but Kevin used to abbreviate it when he wrote down on his calendar where he rode, and we all started calling it "Flane" after that.

Flane can be a tricky place to ride.  On one side of the trail, the woods are very dense.  The other side is a grassy area.  The trail parallels the street, so we have to deal with whatever traffic that goes by.  Where the trail begins, there is a low spot alongside of the road that turns into a big puddle after it rains.  All of our horses have spooked at cars splashing through the puddle.  

Many months ago when I was riding with Shari, she suggested that we just stand on the trail adjacent to the puddle to desensitize Cole and Bella.  When the cars went by, we would try to get them to stand still and then click and treat them.  In the beginning, they were spooking, but it didn't take that long before they stood still and waited for their treat.  Since then, we are still cautious there, but neither horse has ever spooked at the puddle ever since that day.

Since it had just rained the day before, the puddle was there.  I commented to Shari how great it was that we spent that 10 minutes that day.  I then asked her if she wanted to trot.  I didn't know that she was hesitant due to Bella's state of mind.  She just agreed.

Bella was in the lead.  Cole was doing well, but Bella certainly was hyper as we trotted off.  Just when Shari was thinking of walking because of Bella's mood--something spooked Bella.  She spun and tried to take off.  I didn't really know what was going on, because Cole slammed on his brakes and started to buck.  I don't think it was a spook but more of him displaying his high spirits.  As I struggled to keep Cole's head up, Shari struggled to stay in the saddle.  I got Cole to a standstill in time to watch Shari fall to the ground.

She tried her best to hang on to the reins, but they slipped through her fingers and Bella was on the run.  What a helpless feeling it is to watch your horse run away...

Of course, I didn't chase her with Cole because that would have made her run faster.  Cole wanted to follow her, but I insisted that he just walk.  Shari was calling to Bella as we walked as fast as we could after her.  I was so worried about Bella, that I forgot all about Shari falling off.  She told me she was all right.  She fell in the grass, and since we had so much rain, it was like falling on a wet sponge.

As Bella approached the intersection that is over by the puddle, she stopped and started to graze.  On a normal day, the crisis would be over at that point--but she was right by the puddle!  And here came a car!  Talk about feeling helpless...

The car hit the puddle and Bella's head flew up in the air.  She took a couple steps and resumed grazing.  That is when we noticed the big pickup truck barreling towards the puddle.  We both held our breaths.  The truck went dead center into the puddle and spewed a huge wave of water towards Bella.  It was at least 6 feet high.  Bella never even looked up.

We finally caught up to Bella and she was happy to be back with us.  Shari remounted, and the rest of the ride went well.  Bella was much more relaxed--probably because she had a good run.  We were so happy that everything went well.

The time we spent getting the horses used to that puddle was the best 10 minutes we ever spent training them.  

Cole Train

  Cole Train

Monday, November 1, 2021