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.


AareneX said...

Yay for you and Cartman!

Pacing is tough to teach, b/c it takes a LONG TIME. You can't just teach it in an afternoon, although some horses obviously will pick up on the concept quicker than others. Hooray for you (and Flo) for starting C's training so soon.

Heh heh heh. He's not quite a standardbred. I'm just pleased as anything that somebody would ask the question, since often people don't even know what standies are!!!

CG said...

I think the training is going to be a matter of self-preservation... for me LOL

Isn't that ironic, how many places can you take a big TB and get asked if its a STB? Although, he is the right color. :)

HHmstead said...

Sounds like a win/win to me! Good ride & good lesson too! Looks like it was a stellar day!

oldredhorse said...

I often ran into length of stride issues with Bokk on the trails. Our friends had short strided QHs and even though Bokk is QH, he has a long stride. If they led, bokk had a hard time even walking that slow and if he led at the walk, they were jogging just to keep up with him.
YOu guys look like you are having so much fun, I'm so envious!

CG said...

Hey Becky- any time you want to come down to Castle Rock I'll take you out on those trails- its more fun if they are dry though!

Funder said...

What a lovely ride! And a great friend to ride with.

oldredhorse said...

I might take you up on that this spring! Do you need a permit to ride in Capital Forest?

CG said...

I think you need the Discovery Pass to ride any of the state park trails now. But we did not have to have one for the Bare Bones ride as we did not park at the DNR parking area.