Thursday, June 19, 2008

Things my horse isn't scared of (surprisingly)

Earlier I wrote about my long trail ride on Panama yesterday, when he spooked about harmless things such as quarter-inch-wide cracks in asphalt and graffiti on a concrete wall. Now for the good news: the things my horse isn't scared of. (Yes, there are a few!)

1. Water. One of the biggest accomplishments yesterday was that Panama crossed the stream — twice — and that he initiated it! We were following the trail on the way out, and came to a fork where a little trail branched off and went down to the stream. Panama paused, looked down at the stream, and then headed down that trail. I was surprised but interested to see what he'd do, so I quite happily let him.

Panama walked up the the edge of the water and then dropped his head to check it out. Of course, I have to give him enough reins to do that, which I did. (Note: Because the saddle sits just below the base of the horse's neck, it's freaky to have them put their nose all the way down, because it's like looking over a cliff — there's nothing between you and the ground anymore!)

Very slowly, Panama took a few steps into the water, bending his head and checking it out before each step. Karen brought Lily down, and she waded into the creek too. Panama wandered around a little, but then Lily crossed to the other side, and Panama followed.

Of course, Lily had been thinking she was going to take a shortcut, but we didn't want that, so we had to cross back. We had crossed at a slight downstream slant, but we had to go a little further downstream to pick the trail back up again, so we kind of made a V across the stream. The crossing going back also went through deeper and more strongly rushing water, but Panama plunged through and climbed up onto the bank like a pro. I was so proud!

2. Cyclists. Panama is doing remarkably well about being passed by cyclists. He only jumped once yesterday, and that was because one guy whizzed past us with his gears turning somewhat noisily. And it was only a little jump.

3. Joggers. Panama doesn't seem to have any problem with encountering joggers on the trail. One couple even stopped and talked to us briefly yesterday, and Panama was curious and friendly.

4. Dogs. Panama used to be rather scared of dogs, so this is really quite an accomplishment. He's not bothered by them at all when we see them on the trail, and only tensed up once yesterday when we heard one bark loudly and unexpectedly. When we pass them, he usually puts his head down and turns it to watch them as we walk past. He's very curious, and I think he'd probably like to sniff them. Usually the dogs seem interested in him, too, but I don't let him stop because I worry about how a greeting would go down.

So, see, my horse may be scared of a lot — but at least he isn't scared of everything!

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