Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Trail rides, trail rides, and MORE trail rides!

Taken from horseback while on a trail ride

We've been going for a lot of trail rides lately — can you tell?

Panama's fly bites were doing much better, so early Monday morning, we went out with Voodoo and his owner. Voodoo did pretty well for his first time out this season. He was a bit anxious and pranced a bit, but overall did really well.

When we got back, Windy's owner was all tacked up, so I went right back out with her. Windy is an older (24-year-old) mare with virtually no teeth and a perfect example of how a horse doesn't have to be skinny just because it's old. She is fed only food that she can digest without much chewing and is ridden regularly. She is shiny and fit!

Anyway, we spent about 2 hours on the trail between the 2 rides, and Panama was a trooper! We had one scary moment when he insisted on giving a wide berth to two signs stuck in the ground on either side of the riding stables driveway — he went right into the road to avoid walking next to them, no matter how much rein and leg I used. Apparently we need to work on desensitizing to Signs That Weren't There Last Week.

We also had another instance that reminded me of how smart he is. We always pass a yurt on the way out, regardless of which trail we take — it's before the trails split. When we passed it with Voodoo, there were people and cars there (which amped Voodoo up a bit). But when we passed it with Windy, they were gone. Panama is never bothered by the activity there, but the second time around, he kept looking at the empty campground and was clearly surprised by the change!

Panama has also been doing a lot of leading lately. It turns out he loves to lead, and tends to walk slower and carry his head lower when he is in front. When he is behind a horse, on the other hand, he keeps his head in the air and walks so close to the horse in front of him that he has to always hold his head to one side. Granted, when he leads we do have the occasional balk when he sees something new or different and wants to stop and look at it, but I can always get him going again without having to ask someone else to take the lead, so I'm okay with that.

This morning we went on another trail ride, this time with Zans and his owner. I am hesitant to fiddle with my camera while on horseback, as I worry about dropping it, but today I did snap some pictures with my cell phone. I apologize for the poor quality, but at least you can see how pretty the park is!

Taken from horseback while on  a trail ride

Taken from horseback while  on  a trail ride

Taken from horseback while  on  a trail ride

Zans is the very slow horse, and his owner is one of the ones who lets her horse graze all the time. After taking so many trail rides lately where I didn't have to deal with that, I found I was much more impatient with all the grazing than I was before. As Panama gets more confident on the trail, I am finding that he "needs" to graze much less, so we're down to just letting him snatch a couple of bites two or three times throughout the ride. That's good for me, and seems to be good for him too.

Today there was much more grazing. I was glad I was leading, because it kept most of it to a minimum — she had to keep her horse moving because I just didn't stop to wait for her as much! We actually finished up the ride without her because when we got close to the gate, she said I could go on ahead. Panama was starting to act like a jerk because he wanted to graze and I wasn't letting him, so when we got back I rode him in the arena until he settled down.

I'm loving all the trail rides, but I think I really am going to have to find more trail buddies that don't graze so much. I have tentative plans for a weekly trail ride with Panama's girlfriend Lady and her owner, and I think Voodoo's owner wants to start riding more often on the weekends. Mozart's owner will have a harder time coordinating rides in the summer, but we should be able to go together once a week or so. All in all, it should be a summer FULL of trail rides!



At June 2, 2010 at 11:06 PM, Blogger Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Well, you know that Panama isn't barn sour if you can ride him back to the barn and then turn around and go right back out for another trail ride.

LOL. Word Verification = duckywoo

At June 3, 2010 at 9:00 AM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...

No, I don't think he is at all, at least not when we're with other horses. I don't know how he'd do alone, but I've thought of going a short distance on our own sometime and seeing how he does.

At June 3, 2010 at 3:58 PM, Blogger lopinon4 said...

I refuse to let my horse eat with the bit, or while carrying someone. It makes our lives easier. If I let him sometimes, he won't understand the times that I don't let him, so it's best to never let him do it at all. I will get off and slip off his bridle for a break, and he can eat at that time.
I refuse to trail ride with people who allow their horses to stop and eat at their whim. There is work time and there is dinner time. The two events shouldn't be joined at the hip. Just my opinion.

At June 4, 2010 at 3:19 AM, Blogger Breathe said...

What a fun trail ride(s)!

It's tough to find just the right trail partners, isn't it. Some people never ever let their horse graze, some people are fighting the snack snatcher, and in this endurance race intro it was all about trying to get the horse to graze at every opportunity.

I used to be of the mind that my horse shouldn't graze if he's got his bit on, but it doesn't really work that way with endurance rides.


At June 6, 2010 at 12:05 AM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...

lopinon, I'm not so sure I agree that horses can't understand why sometimes they get to graze and other times they don't. I've been working on clear signals that tell Panama when it's okay. For instance, I always make him give me a nice clean stop first, and I make sure that I release the reins (rather than him pulling them out of my hands). If he gets pushy, he doesn't get to eat, period.

Breathe, it really is tough to find trail buddies who have the same ideas about riding as you do. I didn't know that about endurance riding, by the way -- that grazing is encouraged. Interesting! I've thought of doing endurance, because I think with Panama's energy and stamina he'd really like it -- I'm just not sure I can handle it. ;o)

At June 12, 2010 at 9:09 AM, Blogger lopinon4 said...

If you ever sell Panama, make sure you let the new owners know that tidbit of information. My guy doubles as a lesson horse who is ridden by at least 20 different people, of all ages and sizes. I like to give my lessons in the hayfield quite often. He is simply not allowed to eat with his bit, to avoid any issues. A horse can easily pull a small child right out of the saddle in an attempt to snatch grass. A safe horse is a horse that understands the rules. If Panama understands your rule, then you're good to go! :)

At June 12, 2010 at 9:30 AM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...

That's a good point -- it works because I'm his only rider, so we can have this kind of understanding between the two of us without confusing him. Of course I know you should never say never, so I'll say... It'll be a cold day in hell before I'll ever sell Panama. He and I are too bonded with one another for me to do that. He is my soul horse!


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