Sunday, December 7, 2008

Walk tall, act fine

I'm getting to be such a wimp. If it's windy or rainy I won't ride. I don't ride very often in snow because it's too cold and the footing can be bad. But yesterday was gorgeous, low 50s, no wind, and I've been wanting to ride for days now. In the morning I had errands to run, but I got back to the house by 2:30, so I decided I'd go out for a quickie. As I walked up to my front door, I saw some hoofprints in the dirt/grass. I thought, "Aha, Lisa must be riding!" Sure enough, when I went inside my son told me that she had stopped by and inquired about me. He said, she said, to come on out and get saddled up. So I quickly changed clothes and went to the barn. I grabbed some horse cookies and caught Annie, my Arabian Mama-to-be, right away. I curried and brushed her down, scraping away the rest of the mud clots still clinging to her coat. I checked her feet. Then I saddled her up.

She hasn't been ridden for over a week and I've only ridden her outside of the arena half a dozen times at most, so I debated about lounging her before climbing on. But Lisa rode up, so I slipped on the halfbreed bit for a little added control and mounted up. I figured lounging wasn't going to take the edge off much anyway and with the halfbreed bit I'd be better prepared for anything.

I only ride Annie in snaffle bits and sometimes halters. I really like the halfbreed because it has a ringed snaffle and a rawhide noseband for added control. I wrap the nosepiece with a fleece cover so it's gentler on the nose. I figure if she's going to act up, I want to have more control over the situation, if I need it. My horses are very sensitive with the halfbreed but they also seem to like it. Annie gets to head tossing quite often in the arena with a plain snaffle bit. With the halfbreed sidepull she rarely tosses her head at all. She keeps her neck arched and her head nice and low most of the time. I like to ride with loose reins and as little pull as possible so it works out very well for us as a training bit.

I walked her around some and then trotted and cantered in the field next to the barn while Lisa walked Baby Doll along behind us. Annie was tense and stiff legged when she cantered. I confess, I didn't warm her up as much as I usually do. We worked out for about 5 minutes or so, and then I pulled her down to a walk. She settled right down and walked calmly and peacefully, although at a faster pace than Baby Doll. I often had to stop for Baby Doll to catch up. Surprisingly, Annie was stopping and standing still! Sometimes I'd circle around and she was actually doing very nice pivots on the hindquarters. I was amazed at how calm she was. I havn't ridden Annie out of the arena more than a half dozen rides. I've always believed she was too much horse to ride out alone. So when Lisa bought Baby Doll, I was thrilled. I was finally going to have a riding buddy!!

Annie constantly surprises me at how well she trail rides! She is so alert and responsive. When she comes up to strange things, like the neighbor's Christmas decorations, a life size inflatable Santa for instance, she looks at it but doesn't shy away. Is this the same horse who spooks in the same corner of the arena time after time even though she loves to stand in the exact same corner all day long? She won't exactly run up to scary objects but she will come within a few feet. She is willing to carefully pass by and move on which is the way I have been trying to train my horses. I don't expect them to be fearless but I do require them to be able to move on past. If I don't make a big deal of it and make them touch it, unless they want to, they seem to be okay with going past and not spooking. Anyway, Annie is okay with taking the lead although she has very little trail experience. I also require my horses to be happy in any position, first, middle, or last, although Baby Doll walks slower, so I usually end up in front.

Several times, I had to get off of Annie, once to adjust the saddle, then to adjust the stirrups, and twice to open and close gates. She stood reasonably well for me to get back on. She would walk around me a bit and then stop at which time I mounted her. Considering her lack of experience with being outside of the arena, I was very happy with her.

There was only one time in our ride that I had any problems with Annie. We crossed over the ridge up through the trees and along the rocky road down to another road. There were cows in the field across the road. Annie has never seen cows. She got very bothered and pranced and danced a bit. If the cows had bolted I'm sure we would have as well. But the cows stayed where they were and we walked along with Lisa and Baby Doll for security until we were a "safe" distance and then Annie settled right down again, happily walking with Lisa and BD.
Here's an old photo of Annie and Baby Doll. Sorry, we didn't have a camera yesterday.
Annie seems to really like trail riding. She is very alert all the time and looks at everything, but doesn't spook much. When she does get stressed she kind of bunches up like a coil. Then she'll settle down again and relax. After she has her foal, I think I will really pursue trail riding with her. Even when I took her to the vet this summer, she seemed extraordinarly calm for being in strange surroundings.

We got back to the barn just after the sundown so I said goodbye to my friend and her horse and went into the barn, unsaddled, and groomed Annie. Then I brought the other two horses into the barn, fed them, and went into my house to make some dinner for my son and I.

My blogging paper is finished now with just a few touchups needed- I am never satisfied with my writing. Now to work on my book report (3-5 pages). It is due Wednesday. Then I have a "final" test next Wednesday and I'm finished with my classes until January. Yay!

Walk tall, act fine - song: Golden Years, artist: David Bowie, album: Stationtostation


cdncowgirl said...

I'm still playing catch up over here so I hope I didn't miss this if you've done it... but I'm tagging you for the 6 things you don't know about me meme :)

Southern Commander said...

Cool! Wish we could breed a mare:'(... But mom said no plus the only mare we have is 19 years old. Mom also REFUSES to buy mares and says we can only have geldings. Can you stop by my blog and give me some tips on trail riding and that sort of thing? I have NEVER in my whole life trail ridden and neither have our horses:)! Well gtg.....

~Southern Commander~

Melanie said...

Yay for us....we are almost done with school for a few weeks!!!! LOL!!! I don't know about you, but I cannot wait until I am done this semester. This time next year I will only be three months away from graduation!!!

That's great that Annie is so good out on the trail for you. How long have you had her? Bo is mighty fearless out on the trail too, and because he has been a show horse, and a trail horse his whole life, he doesn't spook at!!!

Lisa and Baby Doll are doing so good, aren't they?? You have been a good friend to her! :)

Fantastyk Voyager said...

It's probably better not to breed a 19 year old although my Annie is 15!

Do you have anybody to ride with in your area? It's always best to ride with someone, if possible.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Now, how did I miss this post, Val?
I always enjoy riding with you. You've taught me so much and have been a great support and security for me, too. I'm sure I don't tell you that enough, nor how much I appreciate you covering gates for me because of my bum legs. You never complain and I just want you to know that I'm grateful.

I'm also really proud of you..and Annie, too. It's awesome seeing and hearing your excitement about Annie's abilities, when for so long, you weren't quite sure what her future in riding would be. You've helped her to find her 'wings'. She's definetly found her calling, hasn't she?

Maybe I'm a little silly, but I think that Baby Doll and Annie like each other. I know that Baby Doll seems to enjoy riding with Annie and she also likes to commune with her along the fenceline.

We definetly need to get Jackson back on Nadia again and let him ride with us, I agree. Jackson has a soft spot for Nadia, too. He keeps asking me and I just say 'soon'. What a selfish Mama, eh? I suppose I look at my 'horse-time' as 'me-time', but my boys are growing so fast that I should be grabbing more moments that we can share together, right?

Anyway, if it's nice this weekend, we should ride. Maybe Derron will move his horses off the ridge....we can hope, right? :)