Saturday, May 22, 2010

This week in trail rides

We got to go for two trail rides this week. On Wednesday, we rode with Mozart, the older gelding in Panama's corral, and his owner. Mozart and Panama make great trail buddies because they both walk relatively quickly on the trail. Both his owner and I commented on how nice it was not to have to stop and wait all the time.

Also, Mozart's owner doesn't let him graze a whole lot, which I like — the last trail ride I took with our usual trail riding buddies, they let their horses graze so much that we were doing almost more grazing than riding. That's too much for my tastes — I prefer to just let Panama have a couple of bites here and there, such as when he needs to decompress.

Anyway, Mozart's owner has done a lot of trail riding all by herself — something I won't do — so she knew of some new trails I hadn't been on. (Our other trail riding buddies make the same loop every time.) I was interested in reintroducing Panama to water crossings, so we took a trail that led us down by the creek.

The water level was fairly high and rushing — probably from rain and snowmelt — which Panama hadn't seen before, so that was a little scary for him. When we crossed the bridge, he kept to the downstream side (even though it was a high bridge and there was no way the water was coming up there), watching the water the whole time, and trying to trot past Mozart (there wasn't room) to get off the bridge more quickly. I was able to hold him back, but just barely.

On the way back, we crossed the fast-flowing creek (a big creek!). Mozart plunged right through ahead of us. Panama hesitated only briefly — I could see his head going side to side as he surveyed the creek — and then he tried to jump the fastest-rushing part in the middle. Of course, already being in the water he wasn't able to jump very high, and also the water was pretty deep — it soaked my boot and my jeans up to my ankle on the upstream side, and Panama was wet all the way up to his chest. I was amused that he tried to jump it, but also pleased that he didn't hesitate long or show any fear.

About halfway back, it started to rain on us. It wasn't a total downpour, but it was also more than just a sprinkle, and varied frequently in how heavily it rained. Every time the rain got worse, Panama got very antsy and started jigging or trotting, and every time it slowed he calmed down. When we got home and I put him away, and he went immediately into his shelter, I realized that he hadn't been afraid of the rain — he'd been upset about getting rained on, and wanted to go for shelter. My poor, prissy little pony!

Yesterday we went on another trail ride, almost immediately following our lesson. One of the other boarders was arriving right as I was getting ready to put him away, and invited me out with her and another boarder. By the time we left we had gained another rider, for four total! We took the same route Mozart's owner and I had taken, only they wouldn't go through the water or over the bridge — they are middle-aged women just now fulfilling their youthful dreams of owning and riding horses, and I think they are a little skeptical of their horse's abilities.

In any case, we had a great ride, and Panama led the first half of the ride, if not more. He really liked leading, so I think I'll have to do it more often — he balked at a couple of things, but I was always able to get him going again without having to have someone lead us, which I was pleased about. Amazingly, though, he seemed to be calmer and slower in the lead than I remember him being — maybe because he was tired from our lesson, but I think it was probably more because he is growing up and gaining experience.

By the time I unsaddled him yesterday, he had had his saddle on for nearly 3 hours, and had been carrying me for most of that (with a little break after the lesson while we waited for everyone to get ready to go). I won't ride today, and I plan on checking to be sure he isn't sore — that's the longest I've ridden him, with only a couple of exceptions. No doubt he'll be fine, though — with all the riding I do at this barn, he is in much better shape than he used to be, with better muscle tone and endurance than he used to have!

I can't wait for our next trail ride! Eventually I'll get confident enough on Panama's back to pull out my camera and take some pictures — I'd love to show how pretty these trails are!

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6 Comments:

At May 22, 2010 at 8:25 PM, Blogger Nuzzling Muzzles said...

This is my fourth attempt at leaving a comment. Blogger has been very fussy lately. Anyway, I won't let my horses graze with a bit in their mouths or when I am riding them. It promotes bad habits. After a while the horse starts snatching at everything on the trail. You are very fortunate to be boarding at a barn where people are willing to include others on their trail rides.

 
At May 22, 2010 at 8:28 PM, Blogger Nuzzling Muzzles said...

How bizarre... one of the older comments I wrote last night suddenly appeared when I published that last one. Great trick, Blogger!

 
At May 22, 2010 at 8:29 PM, Blogger Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Awesome! That time I didn't even push the PUBLISH YOUR COMMENT button and it published itself. I think your blog is haunted.

 
At May 22, 2010 at 9:13 PM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...

NM, I'm sorry you've been having problems with the blog. I didn't get an email notification for the first comment, so it's like that one came out of thin air! I don't want a haunted blog! Waaaaaaa!

Anyway, I've never let Panama graze until this year, when I discovered that it relaxes him quite a bit when he gets over-excited on the trail. However, he also knows I only let him if it's my idea, and when I say, "Head," and jiggle the reins, he always brings his head right back up. He's a good boy about it; I wouldn't let him otherwise!

I still don't like doing as much grazing as our other trail buddies do, though -- I usually only let him get a couple bites if it seems like he needs to take his excitement level down a notch, or if he just accomplished something amazing. (He got to take a couple bites after crossing the rushing water on Wednesday, for instance.)

I haven't had any problems with him getting grass wrapped around his bit.

And, I know I'm lucky that everyone at the barn is so friendly and happy to ride with one another. It just seems like that's the kind of barn this is -- everyone is very friendly and laid back! Wish you were here too, NM! :-D

 
At May 22, 2010 at 9:32 PM, Blogger jane augenstein said...

Nice you have someone to ride with. Gilly and I are lone riders, well, except for Lucy and Gonzo my dogs. I don't let Gilly eat at all on rides, I want him to be focused on the ride not eating. He would want to stop and eat all the time so we just don't. Now if I were going to stop and have lunch then I would let him eat too.

 
At May 22, 2010 at 9:54 PM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...

Jane, I've always thought it would be neat if our dogs would stay with me while I rode, but no chance of that! One is too nervous, and neither has really been trained for off-leash. Plus the park has strict leash laws and the park rangers will fine riders too if their dogs are loose.

I guess I should mention that I totally understand and support anyone who chooses not to let their horse graze when they ride. I certainly didn't for a long time. I'm just trying to explain why I've been letting Panama get a few bites here and there: 1) because I think it helps him, and 2) because he only does it when I let him, and always gives his head right back when I ask. If he gets to be pushy about it, we'll have to go back to no bites at all.

 

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