Sunday, May 15, 2011

First fall of 2011

Friday Gypsy and I saddled up and went for the ride around the sand pit. It started off well but she was a little nervous. I decided it was best if I dismounted and lead her across the bridge that goes over the Little Ossippee river. I used to ride my other horses over it, but with Gypsy being so green I didn't want to take any chances. The guard rail isn't much of a guard rail. I had one driver be nice and wait but since I wasn't on the bridge yet, I waved him through. I had another driver who wasn't as nice. I was halfway across the bridge when he saw me and he still decided to drive up right behind Gypsy, almost on her hocks and follow us across the bridge. It's a horse, not another car, jerk. You can't tailgate a horse. Granted, I was in the middle of the bridge, but to me, that seems like the safest place to be with a green horse. This guy just couldn't wait the minute and a half it would take me to cross safely and had to push it. Thankfully Gypsy was fine with it, but it still made me mad. The trail head is right after the bridge so I re mounted there and went on our way down the trail. Gypsy was good about stepping over some branches and even broke into a little trot, which I stopped since I remembered her bucking spell last time she did that. After she calmed down a bit I ASKED for a trot and she trotted nicely up the trail. Everything was good until we hit the area before a little stream. Someone, the town or the sand pit's owners, I don't know who, decided they needed to put huge boulders in front of the stream to block the way to four wheelers, ATVs and such. I'm guessing they were doing too much damage to the fragile stream. Gypsy was horrified of those boulders. She's been down that trail before and since she didn't remember them from before she was freaking out about them. She refused to go forward. I pushed the issue and kept at her to move forward. I should have just gotten off and lead her by them at this point but I kept pushing and that's when she just flatly said "no, I'm scared" and spun and took off with me. She didn't go far before I turned her around but that made her have to see the boulders again so she started bucking. Since I was already unseated from her spinning, her bucking really dislodged me. I was able to hang on for a moment but she did another spin and off I came. I hit the dirt and refused to let go of her reins but I also didn't want to get stepped on so I kinda rolled away from her feet the best I could. I was always watching her feet keeping myself away. Thankfully I was wearing a helmet, not that I hit my head, but you never know what could happen with out one. She calmed right down once she realized she could step on me and then stood stock still. I got up, petted her and then dusted myself off. Before getting back on I took the time to lead her by the scary boulders and show her that yes, we can walk by them without getting eaten by them. I got back on and decided that the work they did to the stream would make it too hard to cross it. It was too much of a drop off, kind of like a v shape, and I didn't want to try and get dumped again so we headed back and around to another trail that takes you to the sand pit itself. We rode around the sand pit for awhile and then headed home. Crossing the bridge again went fine. I did ride her across and there was even a guy on a motorcycle who saw us and stopped and waited. He even cut his engine. After I crossed the bridge I waved him on and waved and smiled and said thank you as loud as I could. I like nice drivers who use their heads while driving around horses. I don't ride on the road much, but when I do it's to get to a trail, I'm on the road for maybe 500 feet, you would think that for that amount of space and time, people could be courteous, but not all are.

After my fall, as we were riding around the sand pit I was thinking about how maybe Gypsy might be too much horse for me and maybe I need a better trained mount. I was a better rider when I was younger and now I'm not the rider I once was. The more I thought on this the more the voices of past trainers popped into my head. My other horses weren't the best trained animals when I first got them but I worked hard and rode them to make them the trail horses they became. I got tossed and I got hurt but I kept going. Wet saddle blankets and time is all that can get a horse trained. It's not that I've become a worse rider, just a more careful one. That's fine, that's good, but I need to find a place in my mind between fearful and careful. I know my stuff and I know how to handle most situations with a horse. I need to trust myself and trust my horse. Though I didn't get hurt with this fall, it did make me think. I'll trust my instincts and get off if I think I should. Go slowly. Wear a helmet. Carry a cell phone. Tell people where I'm going. Gypsy is a good horse, she just needs more rides. I'm working on that. Maybe someday she'll be the trail horse that I want but for now she's a trail horse in training and I have to remember that. I can't push her when she's not ready for something but I have to help her learn to push through when she thinks she can't.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A nice ride on a sorta cowhorse

I didn't get to riding Doodles yesterday. I was dead tired and rather then exhaust myself more before going to work I opted into some lounge time. Today I rode Gypsy and we had a good ride. I originally wanted to try and use her to pull our lawn mower out of the mud in the back yard. Hey, a western saddle is used to pull cows out of the mud, why not lawn mowers? So I tacked her up in my old, well used but much loved western saddle, breast plate and western headstall with mecate reins. Gypsy looked liked she stepped off a cattle ranch. Me, not so much. I found a long rope I used to use for random things and brought Gypsy out to the stuck mower. I hooked up the rope to the mower and then climbed into the saddle and wrapped the rope around the saddle horn. Gypsy tried her best to back up while pulling the mower but had no luck in moving it. She was a good girl and tried hard for me, but that damn mower was just too stuck. She really wanted to be able to pull it out and was taking her new cow horse role seriously. "Look Mom, this is how the real cow horses do it! I know what I'm doing." After I got off and unhooked the mower Gypsy looked at me like, "I'm a good cow horse, right Mom?" Yes Gypsy, you are a good cow horse but I need to call the neighbor with the tractor to get this thing out of the mud, your marshmallow butt just doesn't have enough power.

Since we were already tacked up and ready to go someplace I figured why not go for a ride. So off we went. We rode to the field next to our house and around it to the graveyard. The gate has been open so I've been able to ride through the graveyard and to the trail that goes behind the church. That trail is all nice and soft with pine needles but does have a few roots showing and few rock spots. Gypsy kept stopping and looking and listening but would move forward again after a moment or two. she kept doing that through out our ride and it was almost like she was taking things in and thinking to herself that "Hey, I'm ok. This is ok. I'm ok. I like this!" After the trail behind the church we headed back but I wasn't ready to end the ride yet. She was being so good so why not go down the road a bit. So off we went. She stopped at her normal spots where she thinks the mailbox or real estate sign is going to eat her but moved forward quickly after she looked around a bit. I'm learning that if I just give her a moment to stop and look and see things she's much more happy to go forward on her own. She's a lookey loo kind of horse I guess. We rode down the road for a bit and then I convinced her that she can in fact step over some big rocks and go down the trail that leads to the camp by the river. Once on that trail I could feel that she was happy and proud of herself. She broke into a little trot, which I allowed but then that trot turned into a happy bucking fest. After she almost unseated me she realized her mistake and walked nicely the rest of the way. Yes, mare, don't kill the one who feeds you. That's bad. Anyways, we rode to the camp and back to the road and then headed home. She did so well today. I'm really happy with her. I gave her a forbidden treat of a peppermint and then turned her back out with Doodles and some hay. Doodles didn't even seem to care that she was gone so that's another bridge we are slowly crossing. I'm hoping to tackle the trail to the sand pit on Friday when I have the day off and can be out a bit longer. I must do it early in the day though, before the four wheelers and dirt bikes take it over.

I wish I could get pictures of our rides but the only camera I have right now is a nice expensive one and I don't want to risk riding with that. I need to get another cheap pocket camera. Maybe this weekend I'll try and pick one up. I also found that my feed store carries Omega Horseshine and I want to try the girls on that. I want to do a little more reseach before I buy it but so far I like the idea of it.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

It's been a long week for me. I've been working for what feels like non stop at the store and also getting some much needed work done around the house. My project this morning before I went to work was to fix the horse fence so Miss Gypsy the Marshmallow couldn't sneak out of the paddock and into the back yard to eat all the grass she wants. I re-enforced the wire fence that's ment to keep the dogs in the back yard and the horses from nibbling grass under the electric tape with some metal t-posts and re-ran the electric tape fence so it's not shorting out. I've misplaced my fence tester and am in dire need of a new one so I can test the amount of power the fence has without getting shocked myself. I hate getting shocked and would rather not do the "touch test". Though Mr. Moe did hit the bottom line today and yelped, so at least I know the fence is working there. I'm trying to slowly adjust the horses to grass because of Gypsy's high risk of laminitis. I just want to make sure she doesn't get too much but she hasn't made it easy with her escapes under the fence. I put let them into the lower pasture today for 20 minutes while I was cleaning their stalls and of course had to fight with them to get them back in the dirt paddock. The lower pasture is still a little too wet for them to be there and I'd like to see a little more grass growth before I unleash the hoofed grass killers onto it. I tried Gypsy's grazing muzzle on her today. As expected, she HATES it. She couldn't figure out how to get it off (it doesn't come off the halter easy) and then couldn't figure out how to eat all that yummy grass with it on. She kept coming over to me begging me to take it off. Tough you fat mare, you are forced to wear it. I think I need a bigger size though, it seems too small. Seeing as I got it at a yard sale last fall for $2.00 I'm not supper upset that it doesn't fit. It will do for now anyways.

I found the time last week to take a moment and ride Gypsy bareback around the farm. She threw a few bucks and hops in but once she realized I wasn't going to put up with it she settled down. She's the kind of horse that's used to trying to (lazily) scare her rider into getting off. I'm not falling for it. I could tell she felt good though and that makes me happy seeing where we were 2 years ago. It makes me happy to see her running and playing when not so long ago she couldn't even stand for long periods of time. I want to keep her on the upward swing and not go back to where we were because of some grass. I'm so worried about too much grass with her.

Doodles is a hot mess who needs to get back to work, only I'm dreading (and putting off) working her. I just need to swallow my fears, get on her and hopefully have an uneventful ride to boost my confidence. Maybe tomorrow before I go to work I will try. Worst case, she dumps me and then I can't go to work since she broke me. Then I will get a much needed day off to lounge and read every one's blogs I'm so behind on.

I picked up some guinea hens at the feed store. They are something I've wanted to try for a while now and when I saw they had them, I figured why not. Worst case, they get eaten by a fox since they are dumb.

They are cute and little right now. I hope they do well, I think they are pretty birds and they'll help keep the ticks and bugs down.

I still need to get my truck worked on, it needs an alignment and a new tire and I need to get new tires for my trailer. I also need to get current coggins tests done on the girls so I can go places with them. First step, getting the truck and trailer set. Then I will call my ever so awesome, yet expensive vet to pull blood for the coggins tests. Damn you money! I need more of you! It will all be worth it when I'm doing fun stuff this summer. I'll keep telling myself that.

Anyways, that's all for now. I'm excited to see I picked up a few more followers to this blog. Welcome! I'm coming up to 100 posts soon so that's exciting I guess. Maybe I'll do something special. Stay tuned! Now I'm off to catch up on every one's blogs and drink some Maine Made Mead. MMMmmmm, honey wine....