Saturday, July 30, 2011

Trail ride success

Last Tuesday I rode Chico and met up with my neighbor, B, riding one of his Tennessee walker mares, named Belle. We went on a pretty long ride (about 2.5 hours) on the trails around our area. I have permission to ride on a couple different properties, so we were able to stay on trails most of the time. Our horses were pretty well behaved. Chico was pretty interested in the mare, but he wasn't aggressive and he listened to my cues whenever I asked him to back away or turn away from her. The mare was pretty nervous, but she settled down alright. My neighbor trains his own horses and he has 7, so they haven't been able to get them all out on a lot of trail rides. They've been out, just not with other horses, and very seldomly on the road. We did ride on the road for a bit and the mare was pretty leary of vehicles. I've been riding Chico most of the time when I go out because my dad expressed interest in riding him along with me. I wanted to make sure Chico was behaving himself alright before I let anyone else ride him. No one else has EVER ridden Chico besides me. I'm not sure why...I guess because he's always been very sensitive (responding really easily to cues) and sometimes he's got a mind of his own. He's also really quick, and he rarely spooks, but when he does, he can spin and take a few strides before you have a chance to react and pull him up. And I guess he is my baby, so I always rode him. But really, Chico is very steady. He listens well. Usually I just have to talk to him to get him to change gaits when we ride. He remembers his voice cues really well from when I started him. But he also knows what squeezing legs mean. And he's not a naughty horse. I also knew my dad really likes him. When I moved the horses to WI back in fall 2008, I went back to ID to finish work before I moved in the spring. My dad took care of my horses for me and he took Chico out a couple times to mess with him. He got him to climb on top of a round bale, and he rode him bareback with just a halter. He also led him inside our rustic cabin in the woods. And Chico did everything he asked. So, I've been riding him just to make sure he's ready for another rider.

Today, we went on our trail ride. It would have been nice for just my dad and I to ride together with just my horses first so that him and Chico could get along without distractions, but I had already mentioned to my neighbors, B and his wife, J, that I wanted to ride, so there were four of us! I was so nervous. I actually had butterflies in my stomach and my hands were shaky. I just was so worried that something might go wrong and I really did not want my dad to get hurt. He grew up riding, but hasn't ridden much at all in the last 20 years. My dad and I used to ride together when I was a kid, but it was so different then. This was my horse, that I horse that came from the wild. Did I mention that I trained him? Does it seem like maybe I lack confidence in the job I did? Well, only a little! When I ride him, I am perfectly comfortable. I was just so worried that my dad and him wouldn't speak the same language. My dad knows how Chico works, steers and all that...I just couldn't let go of my apprehension...for no reason really. Chico was wonderful. Look how good he stood for my dad while I was mounting up and getting ready to go. I rode bareback because I only have one saddle that fits both Chico and Cody.

I didn't take any pics on our ride because I didn't bring the camera along. I should have. We met B and J down at the pond on my dad's property. J rode Belle, and B rode Honey Doll. Cody was a little nervous about the new horses at first, but Chico could have cared less. Our ride was very nice. My dad kept scaring me by trotting Chico. He cantered him a couple times. Then he wanted to canter him through an open field....Ahhhhh! I was so nervous! I almost didn't want to watch, but they did fine! Honestly, I should have been more worried about the horse I was riding. I rode Cody and I used her old snaffle bit (I figured I felt more comfortable maneuvering her in it if she was funny about the new horses we rode with). She was so heavy with the snaffle! She's not usually that bad. I think she was a little worried about the other horses, even though she had relaxed quite a bit, that she was more concerned with where Chico was going than with my cues. She just lugged on the bit when I asked her to stop or slow down when Chico was in front of her and the new horses were behind her.

When we got back from our ride, we all rode through the pond and the horses thoroughly soaked themselves. Cody tried to lay down and roll with me on her, but I kept her up. She did manage to fill my boots with water though!

All in all, it really was a great ride, and I really gained a lot of confidence in my dad's ability to handle Chico. Even though I really didn't want him to go fast on him...I just wanted everyone to be safe! It's amazing how much more I worry now than I did when I was a kid, and it is all because of how much more experience I have now. I've seen wrecks with horses, I've been in a few, and I've learned to be very careful and always take things in steps. So my ideal first step would have been a successful ride of everyone just WALKING the whole way. But, we skipped a bunch of steps and went straight to the cantering and everything was fine! I should have more faith in my horse and my dad.

My dad had a good time, and he couldn't stop saying good things about Chico. He is familiar with mustangs - his aunt and uncle adopted and trained a few. But this is the first horse his daughter trained! I think maybe he's a little impressed with both Chico and I. I think I need to have a little more confidence in my abilities...or maybe the problem is just that I think too much when I'm at home and not around my horses. Since I've taken my break from riding while pregnant, I have a lot more apprehension...but only when I'm at home thinking about riding. I can't help thinking about all the things that could go wrong. Once I actually get out and get my horse out, all that goes away. I just need to quiet my mind about it at home.

Wren was glad to have her mama back. My mom watched her while my dad and I rode.

The horses were quite tired when we got back. It was warm out and they are out of shape. I decided to set Wren up in Chico's saddle and see what she thought.

This picture pretty much sums up what she thought. She was very very unsure about it. It was so high up, and mama was below her, and even though mama was holding onto her, she felt uncertain.

I tried to get her to slap the saddle horn or at least grab it. She did relax a little bit and look at it, but she was frozen up there, so I took her off.

But she readily reached out and touched their noses when she got back in my arms. I love this picture of Chico's one ear watching her.

I've thought a bit about Wren liking horses or not...and I really wouldn't be upset or offended if she has no interest in horses. At least I won't have to worry about her with them then! Probably she will like them though. She likes all our animals...dogs, cats, horses, cows, chickens, turkeys....


Andrea -Mustang Saga said...

What a wonderful ride! I'm glad it all ended up just fine.

I think it's really normal to be more apprehensive about riding after you have a baby. I don't know if it's hormones or what, but it seems to be very, very common.

Shirley said...

Nice to get to ride with your dad. My dad always wanted to learn to ride, but was always away working, and then he got too old and brittle. Sounds like all your fears about Chico can be put away, he did great.

Linda said...

Or just nature's way of preserving moms so they can tend to their babies. My DIL was terrified of riding horses, even Old Red, after having her first baby. She was also like that with the 4-wheeler for a while.

I think you're right though...and I'm the same way...our minds create the worst scenarios and they rarely materialize. We don't give ourselves enough credit to handle whatever comes our way.