"And, when you want something, the entire Universe conspires in helping you to achieve it." -The Alchemist, by Paulo Coehlo



Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Tuesday Trails

We FINALLY made it back on the trails again yesterday! The day dawned gorgeous-you never would have guessed a snowstorm was going to blow in last night...

It was somewhere in the upper 40's. I had dressed for pre-snowstorm weather despite it being sunny and bright outside for the first time all week, but when I got out of the car at the barn, I started shedding layers, as I promptly got hot moving in the sun. I was soon down to a thermal underwear shirt, and had removed one of the two pairs of socks I was wearing under my snow boots.

Lily was easy to catch in the big field, and came quietly until the moment the herd stampeded through the chute. After that she was quite prancy coming down the rest of the way, and I knew I'd have to lunge her for sure before riding. There is a new pony mare who has just been turned out with the rest of the herd after her introductory period in the medical paddock, and she was being quite silly about other horses being pulled from the herd-she came trotting up to Lily and me several times, inviting both of us to play! This didn't help Lily settle, but the little pony was just so cute about it. She used to be a therapy horse, and is her new owner's first horse.

Lily was extra antsy in the cross ties, which always drives me nuts. I quickly groomed her, put her rope halter on, and took her into the empty outdoor, where I let her run around and get it out of her system. She actually just chose to canter-no real goofiness. She came to me when she was done, and I took her back into the barn to tack up.

I'm still worried about her weight. She has dropped another girth hole. I talked to BQ about adding the rice bran to her grain.

We finally had our group ride, too: Sally and Jezebel came, and so did Heather on Nate. We chose to go the route with the bridge, since we knew Jez would cross, but Nate still wouldn't go over it. Again Heather attempted getting off and leading him over the bridge. After 15 minutes trying, Heather gave up and so we all accompanied her and Nate back to the barn. This was a small mission-Nate was SO excited about going back that he almost rammed into Jezebel's butt several times in his anxiety to go faster. We offered to let them go first, but Heather decided to keep him in the back to see if it would stop him. It didn't work-she ended up dismounting him and leading him home. Jezebel got a little antsy with his antics, but behaved really well overall, much better than Lily when I had tried to ride out with Heather and Nate by ourselves.

Back at the barn, Heather went into the outdoor with Nate, and we continued on past the paddocks next to the field-this is an alternate route to the trails that avoids the ditches entirely (I had a feeling Jez would refuse to cross them, since this was her first time out). I didn't know about this route, and Tina had just learned about it too. This trail looped around and ended up at the big creek crossing, where Tina and I had crossed on our 2nd ride together, and where Lily and I had gone on our first solo trail ride since moving to this barn. Both of those times, I had had to dismount and lead Lily across the creek. A beaver had apparently been working on building a dam over the little stone crossing I had used before to lead Lily, and the water was much deeper. I didn't have time to wonder whether Lily would go through or not, however, because she became very impatient to get up behind Houdan as we neared the water, and since the footing wasn't too muddy, I let her. She went right into the water behind him!! Without me having to dismount! The stream that had once been pastern-deep was now knee deep thanks to the dam. Lily didn't care. :)

Jezebel, however, did not want to cross, and the water was too deep for Sally to dismount and lead her, so we ended up having to turn around. Lily crossed the stream again! I wish I could have gotten photos of the dam, but I didn't need my phone falling into the water while trying to get a photo from a frisky mare...*lol* This is the first time I've ever seen a beaver's work in real life.

We tried one more stream crossing: the trail where Lily mangled my foot back in November while training her to cross the creek. The creek here is tiny, and the banks are not steep at all, but the mud was still fetlock-deep. Jezebel has Lily's same fear of deep mud, and refused to cross repeatedly. Sally knew she wouldn't go even if she tried to lead her across. She attempted several times, but then Jez planted her feet, and when Sally nudged her with her heels, the little mare tucked her tail and gave a tiny buck with only her back feet. Just popped her rump up 4 inches, no kicking out, no aerial display. It was the most polite "F you" I've ever seen coming from a horse. *lol* Sally stopped insisting, and spoke for Jezebel, "That was a "NO". We'll try another time."

Houdan, the superstar trail horse, was starting to get really impatient by now with all of the stopping and starting waiting for the more inexperienced horses. He even turned his head around to look at Tina and nickered at her, "Mom! Why can't we just GO?!"

We rode back, and took the branch of the trail with the ditches. Houdan trotted most of the way back. Lily and I were second, behind him, and I had her do a long walk on a loose rein, so as not to get Jezebel excited with trotting. Thankfully, Lily didn't care about the increasing distance between herself and our leader. The ditches were even steeper than the last time we practiced them, but Lily followed right behind Houdan's heels and didn't even bat an eye at them. Like I'd suspected, Jez didn't want to cross. Sally had to get off and lead her through the first one, which Jezebel willingly did, but she balked at the second, smaller ditch. The one advantage of this area was that it connects directly to the side paddocks by the barn. Sally ended up turning around and taking Jez back to the barn.

Tina and I continued onto the bridge trail from the beginning. We made it all the way to the track that runs in front of the houses, and then turned around because Tina had to be in Virginia by 6:00 pm, and it was already close to 3:00. Both horses were fairly frisky on the way back, Houdan wanting to trot, and Lily either prancing or trying to canter! She piaffed and passaged the last half mile back to the barn. She refused to extend her stride when I asked her, which was pretty funny-instead of using all that energy to go forward, she was just going up and down in place, which meant Houdan, with his long ground-eating trot, was getting way ahead, creating more impatience in Her Goofiness.

Who said my mare can't do upper level dressage?!



Ever since Nate canter piaffed his way back to the trailhead 2 outings ago, Lily still tries to break into a canter as soon as we reach it. I actually made her stop this time, and asked her to walk. She pranced and jigged, but the closer we got, the more she relaxed, so by the time we were within view of the barn, she was walking with her head down on a loose rein. Silly mare! Once back, I took her straight into the arena, where we trotted and cantered for about 10 minutes, just so she'd realize that coming back to the barn didn't necessarily mean that we'd stop working! Maybe some day she won't look forward to coming back so much. Her and Houdan were quite sweaty, so we hand-grazed them while they dried out in the sun. Afterwards, Lily got groomed, I put her sheet back on, and turned her out with the herd. By then the temperature was starting to drop and the clouds were rolling in.

Nate had gone back to his usual self once back home, and had given Heather a really good ride. She was thrilled with the final outcome. Sally had had a successful ride on Jez once back in the arena, too-she cantered her herself for the first time, and it went really well! She was very happy. We were all really proud of Jez-she did FANTASTIC on her first ever outing on the trail. I think she's going to be an awesome little trail horse.

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