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

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Ballet on Ice

So. Today Kathy and I were finally able to hit the trails together. She wanted to go out to Four Corners with me to see the snow-covered fields, so we headed out that way.

Queenie had been turned out all morning so she was much calmer than on Tuesday. She was happy to follow along behind Lily as we left the barn.

We went through the back woods, crossed the street NBD, and I was able to get these photos for you guys of the farm:

The pond was partially frozen over.
Those are Lily's tracks from yesterday in the snow.
We made it onto the dirt road that leads past the farm, and that's when we realized that the farm's horses, which are usually turned out in their back fields, were now in the front fields and all standing right by the fence. The field fence lines run parallel to the road we were on. I moved Lily to the side of the road farthest from the horse fields. There was a big black Percheron gelding turned out by himself in the field nearest us and he started trotting around in a circle at the end closest to us. Lily tensed and went into high alert, but I moved her even farther away from him and she continued to move forward and listen to me.

Queenie accelerated when she saw the Percheron.

Then Lily caught sight of the 3 horses in the next field over. They all started prancing by their fence. I moved Lily even farther away from the road next to the fence line. She slowed her walk and I had to circle her a couple of times, but we continued forward.

Now, we ride between TWO fields full of horses on the way to the back woods every single time. On several occasions the horses have come cantering up to the fence and pranced along next to us on their side of the fences, and our horses have been just fine.

I was just thinking that we'd make it past these two fields when Queenie spun and bolted, making Lily spin in turn. Kathy yelled and I had a split second of holding my breath when I was afraid she would not be able to stop Queenie.

Chaos ensued. Both mares started spinning, backing, and twirling in the snow, probably resembling something out of the Swan Princess...

The only thing Queenie and Lily were missing were the white tutus.
Lily did her favorite combo of spin+rear, and then leaped into the air...hence, my Alta Escuela saddle. That's a classic courbette, my friends. And I now have a witness: Kathy saw it!

I would train her to do this shit on command but don't want to promote this kind of athleticism.
I stuck it and pushed Lily yet further away from the horses on the other side of the fences. Kathy was desperately trying to get Queenie to stop so she could dismount, but Queenie was not stopping. She continued to alternately back and twirl at such high speed that Kathy would have been seriously injured if she'd managed to swing a leg off. Lily and I were now far away enough from the other horses that I had recovered some sort of control over her, but Kathy and Queenie were still right next to the road by the fenceline. I called to them, "Kathy, bring her over here!" This gave her focus and a direction to go towards: Kathy looked up and got Queenie to gait over to where we were standing. We continued walking the mares away from the other horses until we were almost right smack in the middle of the forbidden soybean field. Once they had significantly calmed down, our hearts were back in our chests, and I didn't feel like I was going to puke anymore (I'd been that afraid for my best trail buddy), we decided to head back home.

The two mares, especially Queenie, were still somewhat "up" as we headed back. I gave Kathy an exercise in making Queenie stop, back up several strides, stop, then walk forward. I circled Lily in place each time Kathy did this so we wouldn't get ahead of them. It had the desired effect: Queenie stopped being so strong in the bridle and both horse and rider started to relax.

Once in the woods, both mares' heads went down. We did the full loop so as to not go immediately straight back to the barn. Kathy was finally able to laugh at the whole situation: she's getting some pretty major riding experience on these adventures of ours, and now she knows she can stick some of Queenie's scarier antics!

We made it safely home and ended the ride on a positive note.

Now sometime in the near future, we'll have to return to get the two mares past that point. Oh God.

We probably could have attempted to continue once we had the horses back under control, but I didn't want to tempt Fate. Kathy has a bad back due to a disk that likes to slip in and out. This is the reason why she wears a protective vest. It's also the reason why she uses a mounting block to get on AND off Queenie - the motion of swinging up or down from the saddle hurts. Dismounting while the mare was moving could have ended very, very badly. I'm just relieved we both made it back fine!

Not fun when your horse decides to channel her inner figure skater...


  1. Nice job not getting hurt on the trail. It can get very scary. And yes, I wouldn't teach my horse it was ok to do a corbette either, since we don't want to encourage the standing on the hind legs thing.

    Tell Kathy to try the Back On Track lower back support (for humans). It gives my lower back just enough stability that my damaged disc doesn't do much more than twinge. It also helps keep the muscles loose and strong. I have seen definite improvement since I started wearing it. I wear it about 90% of the time and tighten it when I am riding. It's helped a lot.

    1. I also love your saddle. If I ever decide to change from the one I currently have, the Alta Escuela is top on my list. In fact, I might just have to have one any way. I mean, it's ok to have two, right?

    2. Thank you for the Back on Track back brace tip! I told Kathy about it today and she is definitely going to look into it. :) I LOVELOVELOVE my saddle!!! I'm hoping it works for endurance like I want it to. And of course it's ok to have 2 saddles. I have 2 only because it would be silly to have 3 when I only have 1 horse. ;)

  2. Now you gotta FILM that shenanigan of hers!