Monday, September 14, 2009

Trail Riding

I decided to forego the 12 mile trail ride with Tax since he was just off his injury. Instead we went to out local lake and did an easier trail ride just he and I.

I'll review what went right and then talk about what could have gone better...

When we got there he was calmer than he usually is when we go out to a new location. He has been to this spot before but not by himself and we took a new trail this time to avoid the worst of the mountain bike traffic. Tacking up and mounting went very smoothly. Most of the day he remained fairly calm and I got him down to the water line. He didn't want to go in the water but we got pretty close. He also didn't try to crush any mountain bikers or hikers like last time. He didn't jig a single step on the way out or the way back to the trailer. On the way back he was relaxed enough that I stopped steering and made him pick the trail for a while. He actually had to work on watching where he puts his feet since I wasn't there to direct or save his ass by balancing him up when he tripped. And you know what? He did it! I even thought I felt him shift his weight back a couple of time to navigate a downhill slope instead of leaping off it as per usual.

So, what we need to work on was he did not want to go down the trail by himself. Lot of things were scary and needed to be looked at. Most of the time he just stopped and stared. A couple of times he looked and then started backing rapidly down the trail. I swear it felt like he'd back off a cliff to avoid the scary (harmless) stick lying in the trail ahead. What I did was let him look for a minute without any pressure, then I'd put some leg on. If he didn't move forward I'd give him a bump with my heels. If he started backing up all heck would break loose and I'd really thump him and over and under him until he was at least stopped but preferably moving forward. This got him past everything and we needed the dramatics less and less as the day wore on.

I met a really nice couple who let me follow them for the first 20 minutes or so until our paths parted ways (they went up to an overlook and I wanted to hit the beach). Hopefully we'll see them again. They were very understanding when they came across my horse stopped dead in the middle of the trail and very kindly went around. We got back to the trailers about the same time so we shared some stories and they loaded up and left while I ate my lunch. Thanks also to the mountain bikers who were all very kind about getting off the narrow trails and letting the beast pass. Oh, and to the two kind, but timid ladies who tried to help me when loading back into the trailer didn't go well.

So, as for loading... Tax usually loads okay but not great. Last Sat he finally realized that when I load alone he can take advantage of the fact I can only cover one side. We ended up with a brawl but I got him in after almost 40 minutes. Thank goodness my rope held out. I had my long rope through the window so I could control his head and I got his feet moving with my whip. He reared and hopped around alot. Finally dripping sweat and exhausted he got in and it was smooth from there. I'm worried my driving has pissed him off so now I'm really trying to drive carefully. I tried to load him again this Friday and I had the same battle. Sigh... I did finally get him loaded but I was too exhausted to drive anywhere. I made him stand for a minute and then let him out. This should make moving this weekend pleasant. At least I'll have assistance.

I want to write more about the new barn so I'll do that soon. Also, a little change in format. I'm thinking about writing some stories about my beginnings with horses. Hopefully you guys will like it. Oh, and new pics soon too. I was watching my neice ride Tax for the first time on Saturday and I realized his neck muscles have really started to develop nicely. He looks good! His injuries have all healed well and it's pretty much back to business as usual.

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