Thursday, May 3, 2012

Trail Ride Firsts

Angela texted me yesterday.  She wanted to see if we could get everyone together for a quick trail ride after work.  I ened up being the only one available so I told her we could load the boys in my trailer and head out for a quick ride.

I forgot I'd told my niece I was going to be at the barn and her mom texted me right about the time I was getting ready to hook up my trailer to let me know they were almost there.  I had to make a quick decision.  Meghan is going to be 17 this year (OMG) and she's been riding inconsistantly with me since she was 13.  She rides Charlie pretty well but he's been at my house since I had his shoes pulled because of an abcess.  I was pretty sure the Charles was sound but I've never taken him out on a trail and he isn't exactly in a working frame of mind with a couple of weeks off.  Despite some nerves I asked Angela if we could take two vehicles so I could bring my niece along for her first real trailride.

At the barn we checked Charlie to make sure he was sound, and he put on quite a show rearing and bucking on the lunge line.  Great.  At least he hops right in the trailer.  Loading Tax gets easier each time although he did decide to pull back after I'd started to tie him and hit his head scraping just about all of the hair off his forehead.  I'll have to get some pics of my lovely scalped horse.  That's never going to grow back before our next show! 

Soon we were on our way but it was later than we anticipated so we decided to go to Rattlesnake Bar, a horse assembly on a local river closer than our originally intended destination.  Sounds lovely doesn't it?  Actually I've never seen a rattlesnake up there but the scenery is beautiful.  I was a little nervous because the trail, while wide and clean, it drops off steeply to the river on one side most of the ride.  I remember the first time I rode it thinking I wasn't sure I ever wanted to ride it with Tax and now here I was with not just Tax, but Charlie who I've never taken out on a trail and my niece who hasn't been out either.

We started out with Megs on Charlie because she prefers him usually but he decided he wanted to hop around and threaten to rear like an idiot.  I offerred to trade and she took Tax, who was thankfully quiet and well behaved the entire trip.  After one scary hopping incident where I got my belt caught on my saddle horn Charlie decided to calm down and focus his engery on making it up and down the hills of the trail.  We rode for about 40 mins total without any further incident.  Everyone loaded back in the trailer calmly.

Here's to a sucessful first trailride for both Megs and Charlie.  I'm proud of them both!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The ladies of Serenity Farms went to the UCD Derby this weekend. It’s a fundraising event where you show in dressage and cross country. You can also just choose just dressage or just cross country, and show in multiple levels which is nice for schooling. Our competitive teams included Angela and Bear, myself and Tax, my friend Alyson and Tax and we were joined by a friend from another barn, Shauna with her horse Apollo. We also met up with Cara, another friend who catch rides for a few different folks and we got to meet her new warmblood filly, Bo.

Loading in the trailer has been an issue with Tax and this morning wasn’t going to be an exception. We’re working with a stud chain because he hasn’t shown much respect for staying at the trailer when asked. He likes to bolt off from time to time. When he hit the chain bolting backward the first time he reared, fell over backward, pulled the rope from my hand and got up and ran off stepping on the lead attached to the chain every other stride. It didn’t take long before he decided that was a BAD plan and stopped and stood looking at me like, “could you please save me now?” Curiously, he hopped in the trailer pretty quietly after that whole incident. Other than a small scrape on a fetlock and grass stains everywhere there was no real harm done.

Getting to the show and getting unloaded and tacked up went without a hitch. Warm up went pretty well also. It wasn’t long before it was time to ride our first ever dressage test.

The photos are beautiful but someone needs to explain to Tax that bolting across the diagonal wasn’t actually in the dressage test we practiced and certainly doesn’t resemble the free walk that we did practice. We’re going to have to find an indoor arena to practice in because that just freaked him out. There were (OMG) birds in the rafters, and the judge sitting in the bed of a pick-up to watch. So scary! And I never did figure out how to read my score so I’ll have to post that later. Overall there were a few nice moments and the judge said our turn out was lovely and we have potential.

She thought Alyson and Tax were a nice match (she does look good on him with her long, long legs) and he had calmed down a little so she did a little better with him. She just needs to practice steering straight.  Their first ride down the centerline looked like a drunk trying to walk the line on the side of the road after about 12 shots. I shouldn’t make fun…apparently I can’t make a circle to save my life.

Next up was cross country and Alyson decided to sit out for the jumping. The jumps at our level were just stadium cross bars set up in the field at 12 inches max, but my silly horse decided he’s never seen a cross rail before and hesitated in front of the first jump. It made me nervous because he’s never really done that before and I was afraid he was going to leap it like it was 20 feet tall. I got him going, he went over, nicely, and we made it to the third jump which was a bigger (by which I mean about 18 inches in diameter, so don’t think it was huge) solid pipe and this time he stopped dead in his tracks to look at it. It was my fault…I was too nervous to keep him in front of my leg. After a half a second he walked up and popped over. Again, we were on our way and started getting a rhythm. Over jump 4 and around the field to a long combo between 5 and 6. I only had once fence to go and then he saw the ditch. We weren’t jumping the ditch but it was there and it caused him to jig sideways just a bit. I’m not sure what happened…I rode the bucking and spinning and bolting in the dressage arena just fine and then one small jerk sideways and I flew off. I tried to hold the reins, I really did, but that’s a lot of horse. Tax took off, ran out of the cross country field, jumping the ass of another horse who quite frankly was IN HIS WAY. I love that my horse hesitates at a 18 inch pipe but another horse…no problem, I’ll jump it! Then he went tearing around the equestrian center until a nice girl caught him. I have no idea how he didn’t break the reins or kill someone.

The positives are that I wasn’t hurt and he got in the trailer VERY quietly after all that drama.

Lessons learned: You stop worrying completely about the quality of your free walk when you’re trying not to die. And we need to school a lot more before our next event.

I didn’t stay long enough to see how Cara and Shauna did but Angela did get a 1st on one of her dressage tests. I had a lot of fun bonding with my horsey friends. We’ve got a good group of riders and we’re all about the same level so showing this year will be a ton of fun.

 Shauna and Apollo

Angela and Bear                                             Anna and Tax
Alyson and Tax