Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Longer trail rides, and some discontent

Trail ride with my horse

We've been going for longer and longer trail rides. Plus, I've been riding in the arena before and/or after each ride, so most of the time I'm on Panama's back for two hours or more. I love the trail rides, and it's so nice to be going out for more than an hour at a time.

Yesterday we did last Wednesday's new trail, except backwards at the end of our normal loop, making it into an hour and a half long ride. We did the stream crossing and the ditch, but we crossed the stream again further down instead of crossing on the car bridge (which none of us — or our horses — had really felt comfortable doing last time). Panama jumped the ditch again — this time I was trying to be ready, but I was just getting into my two-point when he jumped, and I didn't have my hands far enough forward yet. I think I pulled on his face a little, which I felt badly about, and I lost my stirrups when he landed. Next time I'll be ready!

Trail ride with my horse

These pictures were taken somewhere along the creek, before we crossed back over to head home. We saw this beautiful patch of sweet peas, and when I mentioned that I was going to get a picture of it since I had my iPhone, one of the other riders offered to get a picture of us in the sweet peas. Panama was more interested in eating them than getting his picture taken in them, but I think the pictures turned out nicely for iPhone pictures, don't you?

Despite how much I have been enjoying my rides, I have felt a ribbon of discontent threading through the most recent ones. Although I love going out with my Monday-Wednesday trail riding buddies, I get so annoyed with the grazing — as I've said before, I don't mind letting Panama get a few bites to eat here and there, but letting them stand and graze for 5 minutes at a time seems excessive to me, especially when you're planning on doing it again in 5 minutes. Panama is good about not getting too pushy and giving his head back when it's time, but I want to spend my time riding! Some days, though, I just don't have any other choices if I want to go out on the trail.

I've also felt some frustration with people giving me excessive advice or feeling like they are not listening. For instance, the owner of the mare that just came to Panama's corral from a stall-and-run setup was out there on Friday with her farrier. When I arrived, she started dropping not-so-subtle hints about me using her farrier. I know Panama's feet are chipping a bit, and what she didn't know (or bother asking about) is that my farrier is coming out tomorrow. From the way she and her farrier were both pushing it, I suspect she'd probably shown him my horse's feet. Does that sound paranoid?

To be polite and get some information, I asked her farrier a few questions, but quickly decided I wouldn't use him — he came across as too pushy at first, too salesman-like, and then suddenly segwayed into a bunch of stories that had nothing to do with horses or, more importantly, my horse. He talked nonstop (I couldn't even tell when he breathed) and I had to interrupt to say I needed to get ready for my lesson.

My lesson didn't go much better. Although there were only three riders in the indoor arena, it seemed more crowded than that, since there was one another lesson going on and everyone was doing something completely different than everyone else. Furthermore, I felt like I couldn't get anything right: I didn't talk loud enough when communicating to other riders in the arena, and I couldn't get my butt to stop audibly hitting the saddle with every stride at the canter. My trainer worked me harder than usual and seemed frustrated with me, too. I don't know what I was doing wrong... Everything, I suppose.

With all of these annoyances and frustrations rattling around in my brain, I've decided to give Panama (and myself) the day off, and stay home to get some work done. I'll also post the installment about our Mesa Verde vacation later today — sorry for skipping a day!



At June 29, 2010 at 10:44 AM, Blogger Reddunappy said...

yeah, the boarding barn experience is sometimes a PITA. In my opinion letting them eat when you are on them is major major bad manners! It does not teach them to respect you at all. Are these people smokers to that they have to stop and do that too?
Never have a I let one of my horses graze while I am riding, its not like they need it.
LOL its equivilant to those people that walk their dogs on those long retractable leashes and get them all tangled up with strangers.
"sigh" alas I have no solution for you, other than riding alone, and that is not always fun. Thats what I did when I was at a barn, most of the time. Good luck!

At June 29, 2010 at 11:04 AM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...

Pam, I know I've talked about this a lot, but just for the record I don't mind Panama eating a little. Sometimes it's useful for calming him down or as a reward, and it lets me take the occasional picture (because I know he's not going anywhere if he's eating -- LOL!). He isn't rude about it, and rarely ever gets pushy -- if he were prone to that I probably would feel very differently about letting him eat, but he is very well-behaved. It has to be my idea, he has to give me a good clean stop first, and he always picks his head up right away when I say "Head" and jiggle the reins a touch.

I think it's similar to people's different opinions about hand-feeding treats. Some people won't do it, saying it creates bad habits, but my personal experience with Panama is that as long as I demand good manners, I can hand-feed him treats without him getting pushy. Same with grazing -- I expect him to be polite about it, and he is.

What bothers me is the excessive grazing. Dammit, I want to RIDE! They don't smoke -- their justification is "It has to be fun for them too," but I think that's B.S. because Panama loves trail rides, with or without the grazing. I don't mind letting him get a few bites from time to time as a treat, but letting them graze as much as these boarders like to is akin to letting them eat the whole bag of treats in one sitting, in my opinion.

As for riding alone, I need to start getting Panama out by himself. I'm not sure how he'll do without other horses for security, so I'm going to start out by taking him past the junk pile to the edge of the property and back, and just go a little farther each time.

At June 29, 2010 at 6:25 PM, Blogger jane augenstein said...

Katharine, how great that you are getting to go trail riding! I don't let Gilly eat at all while riding, he would surely take advantage of it if I did. He gets plenty to eat and doesn't need to be distracted while we are riding. That's just me, but I would be annoyed too if I wanted to go for a ride and the people that I was with wanted to stop and let their horses eat.
Maybe after riding for an hour or more then stopping to rest and let the horse graze would be fine. I'm with you, RIDE!!!!
I ride by myself all the time, well, two of my dogs go with me so I guess I am not alone. LOL I wish I did have someone to ride with that was like minded.
Gilly gets hand fed treats from time to time but not on a daily basis, only when he deserves one, same with Pokey. An occasional treat is OK but with them they would get very pushy and demanding if it was a daily thing. I guess it just depends on the individual.
Hope you get more good rides in, I got to ride today, it was great!!!

At June 30, 2010 at 8:13 AM, Blogger Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Yeah, I'd avoid those talkers. Before you know it, a 20-minute trim will turn into a 2-hour waste of time. Try this while cantering: Tilt your pelvis forward so that you are sitting on your back pockets. Relax your upper body and squeeze with your thighs. That's just three things to remember. Then see if you stay in the saddle better.

At June 30, 2010 at 5:59 PM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...

Jane, you're right, it probably does depend on the horse. Panama doesn't take advantage, but I'm pretty strict with him anytime he even thinks about being pushy. He's smart enough to know that if he is good he gets treats (or grazing), and if he isn't good he doesn't.

NM, my farrier talks a bit too, but it's more manageable. He takes care of the horse first, and lets me break in if I'm in a hurry for some reason. It seems like ALL men in the horse industry like to talk, though, doesn't it?

Regarding the canter, I know what my problem is -- I'm not moving my hips with the rhythm of the horse. I'm too stiff. I try sitting back and staying in the saddle, but I just end up slumping (and still audibly hitting the saddle) instead. My trainer is trying to get me to sit up straighter ("Boobs out!" she tells me) and move my hips independently of my upper body, but I'm having a hard time figuring it out. I think I'm trying too hard...


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