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



Monday, March 23, 2015

Oh Frabjous Day!

I owed you guys a post about last Monday (where did the whole week go??!)

Charles was working so I was on my own with the horses. I had made arrangements to ride out with Amanda, since she was going to be working more than one horse on this day. I arrived early at the barn to set up feed for the girls for the week, then fetched Lily from the field.

I had her tacked up by the time Amanda was ready to get Antonio, a 5 year-old gray gelding.

We had the option of riding in the neighbor's large blue stone outdoor arena or going for a hack. Since I had Lily ready and wanted to do a longer ride with her specifically, we decided to go for the hack. Amanda wanted to show me the alternate route to the bridge we had seen on our previous ride together.

The ground was still wet mush so we trotted where we could and walked the rest. Antonio led the way or we rode side-by-side depending on how much room we had.

We went around the perimeter of the neighbor's fields, followed the path around part of a corn field and onto a paved road.

A cyclist went by us, which worried Antonio but Amanda stayed very cool and relaxed and other than pricking his ears forward with all his strength and doing a little 2-second dance, he did great. Lily was all, "Whatever."

Amanda asked Antonio to cross the bridge first. He did some side-stepping and snorting as she kept her leg on him and her hands wide and soft, creating a sort of tunnel with her aids where the only way was forward. She talked to him calmly and let him figure it out. 

It only took a couple of minutes before he willingly stepped onto the bridge and went across like he'd done it every day of his life. Very cool. Lily had waited patiently throughout and followed nonchalantly.

I think this is the part where I finally relaxed. I had not realized how much tension I'd been carrying with me on trail rides. I'm just like my horse: Lily turns into an anxious mess over time as herd leader because it's just one more thing for her to worry about. I love love love riding with Charles and I wouldn't change that, but there is a HUGE part of me that worries about him and Gracie constantly when we're riding together. It was great to suddenly not have to worry about the other person and horse riding with me; I could just focus on Lily and me.

We rode around a small field on the other side of the bridge and then backtracked. It was a wonderfully uneventful ride. We did 5 miles in about an hour and a half.

Field on other side of bridge.
The bridge. Lily got to lead about 50% of the time on this ride.
Once back at the barn, we realized Robin, the other barn trainer, had arrived. Amanda invited her to come with us, so she grabbed one of her horses, a cute little palomino mare, and tacked up while I fetched Gracie and Amanda got another of the baby Arabs.

Amanda brought her two dogs, Ebenezer and Grendel. I was initally not sure how Gracie would react to dogs with us, but it turned out she didn't give a hoot. I was SO happy with her!

The dogs were leading the way.
Gracie was all, "Whatevs."
Riding around another neighbor's cornfield. 
It was also blissfully uneventful. We walked, trotted and even cantered a short stretch  around the nearby fields to complete a 3 mile ride in about 40 minutes or so.

We had an absolute blast. Both Robin and Amanda are accomplished horsewomen and I was completely at ease with them: they were both in complete control of their horses and knew how to correct them in a drama-free way when necessary. Gracie was a very, very good girl.

I hung around talking afterwards and got home a lot later than expected, and then had a hard time falling asleep because I was so giddy with excitement over what great rides I had had on this day.

I was actually excited about riding again! I'd forgotten what that felt like.
















18 comments:

  1. So glad you have seasoned trail riders to ride with. It can be very emotionally difficult to be the leader of the group and its got to be a relief to ride with seasoned riders who can take care of themselves. Nice to just focus on you and Lily.

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    1. It's nice to have the option every once in a while!

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  2. Great post! that is how I've been feeling about riding my gelding (solo rides.) In fact, after each ride I'm so excited to think about the next one! We had a bit of a setback today though, I rode with a neighbor lady who I had never ridden with before. Her horse is a fast walker, and she lets him just trot off whenever, which he did the whole ride (and he led the ride. I think my gelding would have been okay if I could have led a bit, but she was afraid her horse wouldn't have been happy behind my slower one.) Well I just walk on the trails, and My Boy had a hard time keeping up so he kept trying to trot and got prancey at times and generally my anxiety skyrockets when that happens. He never crowhopped, reared, or bucked, nothing bad like that. but it was still not a comfortable ride.I finally just gave in and trotted him to catch up, it was just easier! It was a pretty ride (2 hours) and I wish our horses were more trail horse compatible because she's one person local who can just ride to my place and then we can hit the trails, and she's comfortable going way back off the property. Maybe we'll try it again and it will go better or she'll let me try to lead. Oh I really liked your description of the trainer's approach to crossing the bridge- that is exactly how I learned it in a trail clinic last summer (not a bridge per se, just any scary trail obstacle.)

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    1. That sounds like an incredibly stressful ride. I'm glad My Boy behaved but I know exactly what you mean about anxiety levels rising during that kind of scenario. I hope you can work things out with her so you can still have a riding buddy while being able to enjoy yourself on the trails!

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  3. Glad to hear you had a great day and a great time with both girls! It's SO cool how awesome having a good ride (or two!) can make you feel (: I had a day like that with Quest this past weekend, it sounds boring/commonplace to others but we know better than that haha

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    1. I think boring and commonplace are always, always a good thing, especially when it comes to riding!

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  4. I'm so happy you've got the time and opportunity to focus on you and your horses now. =)

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    1. It's nice that the weather is cooperating too! :D

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  5. blissfully uneventful and drama free sound perfect - glad you had a good time!

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  6. Glad you're back in the saddle and having a blast!

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  7. That is a really cool bridge, and good girl Gracie!

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    1. She might just finally be starting to mature a bit...

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  8. Glad to hear that Gracie was okay with the dogs.

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    1. I figured she'd had practice with the goats. Haha... Amanda had warned us about Ebenezer liking get distracted exploring and then needing to run to catch up to the horses. But he was a very good boy: he'd canter up to us and then break into a trot as he neared the horses. Gracie never even flicked an ear at him.

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