The more I ride Journey the more I find "little things" that need addressed prior to her stepping into the venue of distance riding. I'm cautiously optimistic for a launch of next spring, if it can just stop raining long enough for me to get something done here. We have at least been trail riding, some of the work solo (actually most of it) but mixing in some rides with my daughter's mare to introduce her to new things.
This afternoon we got into a sticky-wicket on a trail crossing that had a BIG downed log, which wouldn't have amounted to too much, except for the drop into the ravine two foot to the left. First I got down and thought I'd work her from the side of the drop off and see if I could get her to jump the log in hand, she was kind of prancy and I could see her pushing into me and me falling into the ravine. Thought about the other side and then could see Journey tumbling into the ravine. My daughter's horse had already jumped the big log, but Journey's little short legs weren't showing promise, and I told her that it wasn't worth the risk to me. I'd look for a way down the ravine, and back up. This resulted in immediate separation anxiety as her buddy mare was over there, and we were over here. So I start riding the edge of the ravine looking for a way down. The only path that looked like it would work had a deadfall half-way down. So she had to pick her way through that as we worked our way straight down to the bottom. Down at the bottom we have to find the path of least resistence back up the ravine. We ride back and forth, and Journey's a little worked up because she sees her friend "up there." In order to go back up the other side we have step down off a creek bank into a little stream that is about a two foot drop. Journey is thinking I want her to jump, and she balks, I finally get her step down instead of jump over. Then we have to go up the bank on the other side which is steeper yet. After some coaxing she jumps up onto the bank pointed up the very steep incline. My daughter who has been scoping out the situation is crawling up the hillside like a spider monkey (if only I were that young and thin again) with Journey in hot pursuit! So Journey and I both survived a very technical ride home.
We also cantered a few short trail segments this afternoon, and her canter is going to take some getting used to. It is rather bouncy! I believe it will smooth out some as she learns to find her balance with a rider on her back. May I interject here that Phebes canter is like floating on clouds, (love love it) but it didn't start out that way. Journey also does not extend at the trot, she just trots her little hooves really really really fast! I mean REALLY fast little bitty steps. So if dry ground ever again is seen here at the farm that goes on the project list. She may not have the ability to extend, I don't know, but we will try and see how it goes.
Another project. This afternoon (thanks to Phebes assistance) Journey was hard to catch. Happily I had the foresight to contain them all in a small area before I attempted to halter her, so it was sort of round pen X's 2. Cree had the good sense to stand still while the girls cantered in circles around us. Journey finally realized the folly (ie. effort) involved and stood still. We will need to revisit this. Hard to catch doesn't work in my world of limited time and rain, rain, rain. Just come to me! Get a cookie, and see new things. If Phebes had been out of the picture it would have been a non-issue.
Another project. When we got home I needed to hand walk Journey to the electric gap gate to let my daughter and her horse through to the back field where her horse is staying. Journey perhaps thought we were heading to the trail on that side (the hills) and she stopped stock still like A MULE. She wasn't going, no....uh-uh, no way. Nope! She would back up, but she wouldn't go forward. I finally got myself positioned at her shoulder and would pull forward with my right hand, and tap her on the rump with the crop using my left hand. Hard to visualize, and hard to do. But each tap, she'd step forward and I'd release all pressure. It took a few minutes but she finally walked up there, and I took her right back and we repeated it three times without incident.
So! Lots of little things that you don't discover until you attempt them. Journey has some trail experience but not tons of it by no means. I don't really have big expectations this point in our adventure, its just like okay...we need to fix that if we can. Even so, once you figure out how to get something across to her, she seems to get it. Even with all the emotional horse drama at the log crossing today, though I knew internally she was upset, she did not resort to trying to go her own way or having a melt down. Just worry, a little vocalization "DON'T LEAVE ME MARE FRIEND"! "This human is OUT OF HER MIND." "Can she not see there is a HILL ON BOTH SIDES?"
And how was your day in the kingdom of mare?
Discipline: LD/Endurance, CMO, Trail Rider, Cartoonist, Writer, Co-Director/ Green Bean Endurance
Favorite Links for training, gear, and memberships!
- National Association of Competitive Mounted Orienteering
- HOW TO CMO
- What is CMO?
- Old Dominion Endurance Rides
- Renegade Hoof Boots
- Riding vs. Racing a discussion with the Duck.
- Trumbull Mountain's INTRO TO ENDURANCE RIDING
- Principles of Conditioning
- Conditioning the endurance horse by SERA
- Short Article: Feeding & Training the Endurance Horse
- Feeding the Endurance Horse, Swedish Author
- Preventing Dehydration In the Endurance Horse, Ontario Competitive Trail Riding Association
- Jim Holland's fantastic training links here!
- South Eastern Distance Rider's Association