Friday, March 25, 2011

Jumping, trail rides, and playdates, oh my!

First trail ride of spring

I'm sorry I've been so terrible lately about blogging.  I actually have had things to blog about — I just haven't had the time to do it.

The first thing I missed blogging about was yesterday's jumping lesson.  My trainer is pushing us a lot harder, so we got a lot of jumping in, but both Panama and I were exhausted by the time the lesson was over.  I didn't think I did as well as last week's jumping lesson, but she reassured me that I'm doing fine — it just takes time to learn.

Panama, of course, loves jumping.  I can see in the set of his head and his ears how excited he gets when he sees the jump standards and the poles come out.  We have to have the periodic discussion about whether or not he is allowed to run on auto pilot the minute I point him at the jump, but usually if we discuss it once, the topic doesn't have to be revisited for the rest of the lesson.

Today we managed to squeeze in a trail ride — our first of the spring.  I nearly backed out, because I could tell before we even left the property that Panama was excited, anxious, and just in general ready to blow at any minute.  I was surprised because after our lesson on Thursday, I wouldn't think he'd have so much energy.  But Spaghetti was along, and he was hyper from having been cooped up in his run all week, so Panama may have been feeding off of his energy.

Regardless of why, three of the four horses on the trail ride were constantly acting up.  I spent the first half of the ride practically fearing for my life — perhaps a little bit of exaggeration there, but only to give you an impression of how bad it was!  If it wasn't Panama ready to bolt, Spaghetti was spooking or Shadoman was jigging.

I thought we were going to have to turn back, but we pressed on and eventually Panama did calm down.  I don't know if it was because I let him lead (which he prefers), because we got out about 30 feet in front of everyone so that he was no longer surrounded by nervous horses (which he seems to feed off of), or because I was very softly singing to him (we have our little "calm down" song that seems to help him relax and refocus on me).

Spaghetti, who was behind us for a while, seemed to calm down too — until he noticed we were passing the site of the controlled burn from a couple of weeks ago.  Panama kept looking over at the black and green (from new growth) field as we passed, but he was merely interested, not overly concerned.  Spaghetti, on the other hand, apparently freaked out a bit and refused to keep moving forward.  His owner had to dismount and lead him across the road to see it, and then he wouldn't let her remount until someone else dismounted to hold the reins.  Shadoman's owner and I had gotten pretty far ahead, so we circled back to them through the burned area in the hopes that Spaghetti would feel a bit more secure once everyone was together again.

Once we got through the burned section, they all relaxed again, until we encountered a tractor on the bike path.  Shadoman and his owner, and Panama and I crossed the path, followed shortly thereafter by Spaghetti and his owner; our caboose, Zans and his owner, were cut off from the rest of us until the tractor passed.  Both Spaghetti and Panama were pretty upset as the tractor passed; Panama wanted to run away, but I wouldn't let him, so he threatened to rear in protest.  I put him into a tight circle and turned him around to face the tractor, which was at this point heading away from us, so Panama decided it was okay after all and watched it go.  I was just pleased to have "won" and kept him from running away.

After we got back — all on the same horses we rode out on, thank goodness — we turned Spaghetti and Panama out together to blow off some steam.  They were acting a bit tired from our trail ride, but once turned out they perked right up, and romped together with a surprising amount of energy.  I guess "blowing off steam" was exactly what they needed to do!

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2 Comments:

At March 27, 2011 at 8:29 AM, Blogger Nuzzling Muzzles said...

I find it interesting how my horses are okay on the trails as long as I take them regularly, but if too much time passes, everything looks different and they get scared. They were on full alert the other day when one of those cranes that lifts repairmen to the tops of power poles showed up and spent a lot of time around the paddock, so I can imagine how scary a tractor would be.

 
At April 11, 2011 at 4:48 PM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...

Yes, they definitely spook more easily when they haven't been out in a while. I'm fairly certain we've seen that little tractor before with little or no reaction, not even the first time. It seems like regular trail riding and exposure gets him into a mindset where he can more easily deal with things he's never seen before.

 

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