Tuesday, September 27, 2011

With a Little Help From Our Friends

A recent post over on Aarene's blog http://haikufarm.blogspot.com/ talked about what makes a good trail partner.  I have a good example from last weekend's ride.

At our ride up at Capital Forest Cartman showed signs of being a little bit competative with horses ahead of him on the trail.  So, last weekend Flo and I headed out on what I'm afraid might be the last beautiful sunny day of summer.  We went up to our local trails about 10am.  Flo had chosen her very experienced gelding Hotshot to aid us in our training mission.

The weather was exquisite!  The trees are turning and the air had that fall crisp feeling.  Since I've been allowing Cartman to lead on many of our recent rides we decided he was in need of a little practice following another horse.

Its funny how a horse's demeanor changes depending on where they are in the trail string.  Many horses seem to want to lead, they tend to ride up too close and crowd the horse in front.  Sometimes they get completely obnoxious with it, paying no attention to the trail, tripping, and fussing.  This is not a fun ride, especially if you are on a somewhat technical trail.  Nothing worse that having your horse pitching a fit on the edge of a drop off or steep hill, just because they want to be nose to tail to the horse leading.

Oddly, many of these horses rush and rush, only to slow down to a snails pace once they obtain the lead... wait a minute....I've run into a lot of drivers pulling that manuever on the freeway!

So,  at first Cartman was being rather pushy.  Hotshot was totally unfazed, just ignoring the childish antics of his protege.  He's currently schooling a little brother, Auggie, so I'm sure this was old hat for him.  We practiced keeping Cartman a horse length back, and he accepted it pretty quickly.  After an hour or so he was being quite agreeable and going on a loose rein without sneaking up.

Time to up the stakes a little, Flo put Hotshot into a medium running walk and my goal was to keep Cartman back at the same distance, and be able to maintain a consistent trot.  This sounds really easy, but we are still working on the "pace" issue.  C has a fast, rather flat, ground covering trot.  I was actually asked if he was a Standardbred at the Bare Bones Ride!  So, when we jog with many other horses they sometimes have to canter to keep up. 

I ended up having to sit the trot for several strides to slow his pace a little, then could post for a few.  For some reason the posting really seems to wind Cartman up, but after about 1/4 mile we were back to the loose rein.  I think he had actually accepted the lesson.  Yeah!!!!

We did let Cartman lead a few times, and then pulled him back to follow Hotshot again.  I was really pleased with what we accomplished on this ride, but it was absolutely imperative to have the help of a friend and her well trained horse.  Thanks Flo, I owe you!

Next up we might try this with a third horse or small group of horses.  Here are some pictures of the day.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Bare Bones

We did it!  First organized ride complete (I know, I know, only 15 miles) but this ride was about learning to camp and see how Cartman was going to do in a group situation.  He passed with flying colors, and with only a few minor bobbles in performance. More on that later.

Friday nite, first experience at camping
After a hectic morning of washing clothes, washing the truck, and washing the horse I was pretty wiped out by the time Todd got home from work.  I'd been so focused on trying to get ready that I didn't eat anything and by 11am was feeling pretty shakey.  Knowing that this would be setting me up for a killer migraine, I decided to hell with my  self-imposed schedule and we went out to lunch.

After we got back Todd helped me load everything up, hitch the trailer and I ran inside for a shower while he went to bed.  Shortly after I was on the road. 

We pulled into camp about 2:30pm and Glen and Flo had saved us a spot next to them.  It was a good plan, because Cartman knows Hotshot and was immediately comforted by seeing friends.   I got the hi-tie ready for him and decided to take him for a little walk and to sign in.  Flo went with me to hold C while I did the paperwork, as I was still a little hesitant to leave him at the trailer at this point.  Did I mention there was some sort of Blackpowder Competition going on at the Gun Club, about 300 feet away, in the woods?  It was extremely LOUD.  Luckily C is pretty much not fazed by gunfire and it didn't seem to bother him at all.

We camped at a Gun Club, on a carpet of clay pidgeon remtains
We got signed in, Cartman was letter A.  We started back to the trailer and ran right into AareneX from Haiku Farm.  I was hoping to see her as I'm intrigued (and impressed) with the training she has done with her mare and wanted to get some clarification on the teaching of the look-away trick.  Better still, she offered to show me how to do it, with Cartman.  Aren't endurance riders awesome?  After a few minutes C was starting to get the idea, and I now know how to keep working with him.  He is SO motivated by treats, and so puppy like, that I think this might be a really good thing for him to learn.   Thanks Aarene!

On the way back we had stopped by the American Trail Gear booth to inquire about a fly mask.  Cartman was enamored of the black plastic horse head that they display bridles on, he would not leave it alone!  I finally had to pull him away, as I was beginning to think we was going to knock over the whole rack.

The vet-in area was right next door and they asked if we were first in line.  Well, sure :)  After some brief trouble- finding a pulse?  The vet finally gave it a try, and C pulsed in at 38.  He stood like a champ for the exam and got all A's.  Yeah!

I was starting to feel pretty comfortable with Cartman in the ridecamp and he spent the next few hours on the hi-tie while I visited with people and set up my sleeping  area in the back of the trailer.  Glen and Flo
grilled some tastey hamburgers up and we all sat around eating and talking for a while.  It was nice to see everyone again, after a summer of missed rides for me.

While walking to the water trough I noticed a couple with a pretty grey mare,  the mare's name, Khari, was printed on the trailer-so I figured this must be Connie, of the Hoge Homestead Blog.  So, I did something completely out of character and went up and introduced myself to- what could have been-complete strangers.  Thankfully I was right, and it was Connie.  What nice people!  We talked horses and it was like I'd know them for years.  I think Khari made her 1000 mile this ride, congratulations!!

Later on, Kristy,  one of the friends I would be riding with the next day, stopped by to get signed up for the trail ride.  She offered to bring me an Americano the next morning!  This ride was really shaping up well so far.

 I climbed into bed about 10pm, and settled in for a night of little sleep.  Sure enough, I was up every two hours or so.  Camp was very quiet, and Cartman was really quiet outside the trailer. Other than dumping his water bucket at 1 and 3am, he was really well behaved.  About 5:30am he discoverd that he could look into the trailer (I'd left one section of the stock trailer windows open- I have some boards  that close up all the open windows and I usually put these up after I get to camp.)  Ever so often I'd see a big nose poke thru the window, and then an eye.

We were up early next morning and watched the 50's head out at 6:30am.  The 30's were set to leave at 7:30am, and just as they where saddling, it started to rain.  And it didn't quit.  By the time Michelle and Kristy pulled in with their horses, and I was saddling- it was pouring.  Literally.

I saddled Cartman under his rainsheet, but by the time I pulled it off, hung it in the trailer, and got back to pull the cooler, it was also soaked.  Ugh.  Shannon  took the cooler for me so I could jump on, but alas, the saddle was already drenched by the time I got over to the mounting block.  We settled in for a wet ride.

We put Cartman in front, Koko right behind him, and then Michelle's new horse Tucker.  We ended up travelling in this order all day, as Tucker was having no part of Cartman between him and Koko.  The trail was pretty much a channel for the water to run down.  In the span of an hour a beautiful wooded trail had turned into a slick little chute.  Gotta love Western Wa.

Despite the wet and the mud we were enjoying the ride.  Its a really pretty area and the trails were well  marked.  About 1/2 hour into the ride we came upon a large group of riders, all riding together.  They graciously pulled over at a road crossing and offered to let us pass.  I was glad, because Cartman has a pretty fast walk and I was not wanting to spend the next three hours having to check him back, or worse having him crowding the horse in front of us.   One rider had contiued on as we did the re-arranging and passing at the road.  Cartman saw that horse in front of us about 50 feet up the trail and this is where the little indiscretion occurred. 

As we started up the slightest incline he half reared, half lunged forward.  Twice.  Yes, that was it.  For a split second I was thinking uh oh.  I have ridden horses that would perform this manuever and then go to hoggin' it.  I was waiting for the bucking to start.  But it didn't happen.  Whew. 

Cartman gave the bridges a little look, but walked right over.  I was really glad that our experience with him slipping and cutting his leg on that little bridge at home did not seem to have left any lingering effects.

The next few hours were spent mostly walking as it was just too slick to do much else.  We encountered some joggers????? I couldn't believe it, out running in the mud and rain on foot- that is hard core stuff there.  Then a few bicylists that were amazingly considerate and even complimented us on our beautiful horses.

It was all in all a great ride.  C did really well in the mud, despite the fact that I've never ever ridden him in the rain or mud!  Luckily its been pretty dry since I started taking Cartman out on the trail this summer.  The last hour or so it stopped actively raining and Cartman was pretty dry by the time we returned to camp (I wish I could say the same about my boots.) 

Cartman vetted in, and got all A's again.  Wooo hoooo!
post ride photo
After the ride Cartman chilled by the trailer and had some alfalfa.  He was not tired at all.  I went over to the Rivas's trailer and warmed up with a nice cup of coffee and some heat, much appreciated too.  Shortly after Glen, Flo, and Heather returned from completing the 30.  Their horses vetted in great and they too hustled off for some dry clothes and some heat.

A few hours later I loaded up C and we headed home.  Only a little over and hour away, it was an easy drive.  I did a little grooming and then turned C out with Dazzby.  He trotted off towards the big field and then took off at a nice canter.  I think he could have gone a little further than the 15 miles!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Road Not Taken

I actually took this road on Sunday, but it reminds me of that poem.

It was about 5-6pm when we hit this part of the trail, it was starting to get a little dark in the deep woods.

 It was a ride of firsts.  Here we lead the way down into the creek crossing, for the first time.

 Here Cartman takes his first drink from a stream!  I was so excited, we've ridden thru here probably 10 times in the last few months, and he would never drink.  Later, on the crossing heading back to the trailer he took another sip of creek water.  :)  Its the little things, ya know!

Today I started packing up stuff for the Bare Bones ride.  I'm getting a little nervous!  First time camping for Cartman, first time going through vet-in, ride camp, and being surrounded by a LOT of horses.  EEEK.  I keep telling myself, "Its only the trail ride!"

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

It Was Worth It!

Waiting for the farrier, that is.  Because today after having 6 days off, my colt did a nice trail ride and was awesome!!!

Michelle and I decided to go up to our local trails for a ride after work today.  I picked her up and we headed north.  By 5:19 we were saddled and on the trail.  We decided to do a bigger loop that we've done before, but frequently don't have time to do after work.

I had a very annoying day at work, but Michelle had a pretty rough day too.  We were both glad to  be out on our horses.

About 20 minutes into the ride we heard voices through the trees.  It was Flo and her friend D!  Flo was on the wonderful Auggie (quickly becoming a fave horse for me and Cartman- and not just because he looks like Hotshot! )

We stopped for a brief visit before deciding we were going to run out of daylight if we didn't hoof it.  Cartman so wanted to turn around and go with Auggie but after a few minutes he settled down and took off in his huge forward walk.

We were able to go first through the small muddy (well dried mud now) patch leading down towards the new creek crossing.  Yeah!  No backing up this time.  Last time we ended up having to follow thru that part of the trail.

We got to the creek, Cartman charged into it, wetted his muzzle and promptly turned his head back for a horse cookie!  Uh oh, I had forgotten to replenish the pack.  I felt a little bad but he wasn't too upset with me.

We then lead up the hill (another first) at a nice calm controlled walk.  Yeah!  It is so nice that he isn't wanting to run uphill- something Dazz and I always fight about. 

We were having such fun and had made up quite a bit of time by doing to several long trot sessions that we decided to try  out a new "unmarked" trail that I'd help start last spring.  It was fun trying to follow the relatively new trail through the underbrush and trees.  I was practicing my skill learned lately on the show "Mantracker". 

This new trail was a lot longer loop than I thought it would be and the sun was getting pretty low when we made it back to the Bottlecap Trail that borders Sherwood Forest.  I definately don't want to be in Sherwood Forest after dark, I can get lost in there during daylight hours!

We did spook up one rather large elk on our way out of the woods.  I only saw its hind end, but it looked enourmous!  Cartman didn't even turn a hair when it blasted past.

All in all a great day of riding, 2hours and 24 minutes!

Monday, September 5, 2011

While I wait for the Farrier

This is what Todd is doing:

OK, I might be a little jealous.

 I just keep telling myself,  "I love my horse, I love my horse."

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Shoe Trouble

After our wild ride Wednesday I gave C the next day off.  Friday I rushed home after a very long work day to get a quick ride in with Michelle.  I ran out to the field and grabbed C.  We headed back up to the barn and when we hit the blacktop driveway I was greeted with three clinks and a thud.  Crap.  Cartman was missing his left hind shoe.

Now, after having to call and cancel our Tuesday ride because of a lost shoe.  I was determined not to do it again.  I was driving tonite, after all.

I turned C around and let him go.  I grabbed Dazzby.  I've been meaning to ride her at least once more before pulling her last set of shoes this year.

She was filthy!  OMG the dust that came off that mare.  Embarrasing really, she looked like a half-bucksin.  I changed out the saddle fitting cushions, saddled, and Dazz jumped into the trailer.  She really looked kind of pleased.

Wow, what three months off can do for a horse.  Instead of dragging me down the trail, she was totally content to dawdle along.  She never did any of the tripping or develop the pissy attitude that she displayed on our last attempt at a ride. 

We did an easy hour and 20 minutes on forested trails, windy single track with some elevation changes but nothing too steep or hilly .  She had her ears up the whole time!  Yeah!!!!

I did kinda feel like I was riding a Thelwell pony though, lets just say she's put on a few pounds over the summer.  :)

The shoer is coming tomorrow to attend to C.  I am at a loss for what to do.  The abscesses from last year are at the point where I think they are causing his shoe troubles.  I had  hoped to have him re-set once more and then pull shoes in Oct.  I sure wish he had inherited his mothers feet!