Saturday, February 21, 2009

First Solo Trail Ride

Okay, so it was as much a solo WALK as it was a solo RIDE, but we got 'er done. With the impending bad weather tomorrow, there really wasn't a whole lot of "solo" about it as the north parking area out at Washoe Lake had 3 trailers there when I first pulled in, about 7 when I set off on the trail, and probably about 10 when we got back, plus other people riding over from local houses. But Diego and I did get a chance to get out on our own for a little bit. Being inspired by my friend Jonni from Texas, who commented that she likes to take the greenies out by themselves so they are more focused on her, I decided that the beach along Washoe Lake would be a great place for a first outing since 1) I'm very familiar with the location, 2) it's nice DEEP sand to cushion any falls and hopefully make for more work for pony and 3) it's very open so any potential spooks can be spotted a long ways coming.

Dig and I got saddled up and ready to go with no issues. He was curious about the other horses but was just standing there checking them out. I did talk with one of the gentleman that pulled in shortly after me, to find out what type of ride they had planned, but they had Pasos and planned on gaiting out quite a bit. Too fast for what we had planned for today. So I set off on foot with the plan to walk him over to the beach and see how things went from there. We made it over the few sand dunes to the lakeshore with no issues. Diego was a little excited by some people walking a dog off in the distance, so I lunged him around me in circles for a few minutes. The fetlock+ deep sand did it's job and it didn't take long before he was huffing and puffing and ready to focus on me. We continued to walk on foot until we passed the 3 people and their dog and then I mounted up.

I realized that my verbal cues must be working when, as I'm getting ready to mount, and telling Diego, "Now you behave, we are just going to WALK. That's it, just walk," and he proceeded to walk off, just like I'd asked him to (duh!). =) So, when I was finally able to keep my mouth shut, I mounted up and off we went. And he did REALLY good! He stopped to check some stuff out now and then (driftwood, etc) but overall was very well behaved. He was walking out pretty nice, almost offered a trot a few times but I didn't want to add any speed as I was worried I would get more than I wanted. =) He kept it sane and together. I will admit that **I** spooked once at some birds that flew out of the lake. Diego was like "Huh?" and looked at me out of the corner of his eye. =P

We ended up riding almost a mile down the beach all by ourselves. Then we turned around to come back to the trailer and "Oh look Mom! There's other horses down there!" So I got off and we walked/pranced our way all the way back to the trailer. He just wanted to go catch up with the other horses too much. One group of 4 riders had some dogs with them as well and Diego spooked at the dogs (Argh. I can tell this is going to be a problem). He backed up some but not too much and did stay facing them. I don't know where this dog paranoia is coming from. He and our dog Copper are like two grumpy old men together - Copper enters corral to eat poop, Diego puts his head down and sneers at him, Copper barks at Diego and goes back to eating poop. Done. So why are other dogs creepy??? Once we get going on the trail good, Copper will have to start joining us on rides if the old man is up to it (Copper's 13 this year).

So I ended up walking all the way back to the trailer. Dig would have liked to have gone faster, thankyouverymuch, but oh well. It was a good lesson on leading nicely next to Mom and not getting too far ahead or you have to stop and back-up and then wait. I need to find some friend's to go out on some slow trail rides with. I just wish my schedule was a little more predictable so I could have a set weekly day/time. Oh well, it will all work out eventually.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Finding the Holes

Another weekend out at Bartley working in the arena. "Cowboy Bob" wanna-be Natural Horse guru and his clueless girlfriend where there again. Just us three on a somewhat windy late-Sunday afternoon. This was the first kind of "bad" weather I'd ridden Dig in that I can remember. I didn't really lunge him at all before riding this time, he was being really relaxed and there wasn't a whole lot else going on. Just a few circles around at the ends of my reins and I hopped up on. Thoughts from this weekend's ride:
  • He's really solid at the walk, just putters right along where I point him. Working on some light lateral movements off my legs, he seems to be catching on to the idea of that. He's working well off my weight/seat bone shifts as well - all at the walk.
  • Good solid stop and a very nice back. He caught on VERY quick to the "back-up after you stop" request and now will back very softly and readily, sometimes without waiting for me to ask - so need to go back to just whoa and "hold" now so he's not second-guessing me.
  • Still balking at times - I'm not sure what's causing this. I want to figure out WHY he may be doing it before I resort to something like carrying a crop or switching out to my split reins to pop him with. I think sometimes it's because he's not sure, and other times he's being stubborn.
  • Speaking of stubborn - we had a little "NoIdontwanna" moment today which involved planting his feet and refusing to move forward. He started backing up to evade me so I backed him in a full 360 then stopped him, turned his head and asked for his hip. He took a couple of steps around and I found that "forward" gear again.
  • I think we're both VERY bored with riding in the arena. =(

Worked on trotting some more again today. He gave me about 2 good laps around in between several 1/2 to 1/3 laps that involved stopping and such. Not sure if he's just being lazy and unmotivated or still feeling unbalanced/not sure of himself. Probably need to spend some time in the round pen so I don't need to worry about him bolting off or having to steer around corners and just let him (and me) get the feel of things.

Cowboy Bob was as amusing as last time. His horse is such a quiet dead-head, I don't get what he's doing really. He spends a lot of time on the ground just walking around with the horse following him on its leadrope. They were going to go on a ride around the park, and I *almost* asked if I could join them, but then I watched him spend 15 minutes (literally) getting ready to mount his horse. They then rode down to the end of the big field (still within eyesight, about 100 yards or so) and sat on the horses down there for another good 15+ minutes. Then turned around and came back. Okay... Chatted with him briefly as we were getting ready to leave, he claims to be from Texas and was upset because there were posted park/arena hours and the ranger came around and very nicely asked us to start getting ready to go so she could close the main gate at dark as planned. Considering the arenas are supposed to close at 4:30 and it was probably around 5:00 when she came by, I was already untacking. Cowboy was upset because there were hours - I told him "at least we have this really nice arena to ride in for free." I guess back in TEXAS where he's from - it's all private arenas/ranches and you just get in with someone and ride at their place whenever you feel like it??? Whatever. There is a private ranch with a covered lighted arena in Washoe Valley, but you have to pay $5 to use it. I'll take the free one, thanks!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Back in the Saddle

Yay! Back to riding! For having 4 full weeks off (last ride was Sunday, 1/11) Diego did really good. Again, we went over to Bartley Ranch and rode in their smaller arena. Back to basics, I lunged him for about 5 minutes or so to make sure no craziness was going to occur and then hopped on. He seemed to not have any lapses and picked-up right where we had left off. What a good boy.

I met a new friend today. She was riding her Morgan mare in the large arena working on some dressage exercises. When she was done, I asked if I could join her and her mare on a hand-walk around the park. She asked me if I did endurance (I did have on my zilco breastcollar and beta reins - plus the bumper stickers on my trailer) and it turns out that she rode an LD last year and wants to do a few more this year. Very cool! She's planning on riding the LD at Rides of March for her first this season. I plan on being out there as a volunteer. So we exchanged phone numbers, hopefully we can get together to ride sometime in the future. Not sure how she would feel about babysitting Diego and me, so I'd like to get him going more reliably first.

I worked on some more trotting under saddle when we got back from our walk. He'll only go about 1/2 way around the small arena before stopping suddenly. He either gets busy gawping at something or I think when I start to post he feels off balance and stops. Hhhmmm.... Need to work this out. I've tried just sitting his trot but as he gets going faster he starts to bounce me more and then just stops again.

It was good to be riding again. =)

Monday, February 2, 2009

Going Again

So Diego's pretty much had the past couple of weeks off since my accident. I've been out to feed and scratch on him, but haven't really done much else. Since I haven't been able to fully close my jaw since my accident, I've been very leery of riding and accidentally "clicking" my teeth together. Just seemed safer and easier to not worry about riding. But I was feeling sorry for the boy so decided to take Diego out yesterday to at least stretch his legs for a while.

Hooked the trailer up and headed over to Bartley Ranch, our closest public arena. There were two other trailers there when we arrived, the people were riding in the smaller arena and looked to be just finishing up. I turned Diggy out in the big arena where he RAN, RAN, RAN! He was having **such** a good time, you could tell he really does love to run! I was cracking up laughing at him. He would make eye-contact with me each time he would come by, then dig in deeper and take off sprinting again. Silly boy!

After he'd tired himself out some, I caught him and decided to take him for a walk around the park, even though my husband had forbid me from going on unsupervised walks anymore. =P Dig was a little excited since he'd just been running around, but I made sure to walk him CORRECTLY on the right amount of lead rope, so we didn't have any issues. He did spook some at a guy on a bike (reminds me I need to get MY bike out and ride around by his corral) and spooked a little at two ladies jogging toward us (???). We walked all around by the old farm equipment and over by a playground where the kids were on swings and those plastic animals on a spring in the ground. Just stood and watched them until they were sufficiently boring that grazing became more appealing. Then walked back to the trailer, trotting a bit in hand (like a VERY good boy) across the gravel parking area and walking like a gentleman beside me across the wooden bridge.

Got back to the trailer and lots more people had shown up. Some cowboy-wanna be in his little "outfit" complete with full chaps, bandanna, hat on stampede string hanging down his back, not on his head and his clueless girlfriend. You could tell he thought he was some NH guru, although none of his dogs could walk properly on a leash and I think he spent more time talking to his horse about stuff than actually DOING anything. There was also two girls in they're early 20's or so either running their horses around or riding in the arena. A young girl (10?) on a pony having a barrel racing lesson, the mini horse the came with the pony, and two other younger girls riding around on bikes. So Diego got tied to the trailer, in the middle of all this, to sit back and "just deal with it." He did good. I found out he was more spooky about the dogs than what any of the other horses were doing, even when barrel pony came charging up to the fence right behind his butt. Dig would kind of spook in place, kind of hunker down but not go anywhere. I sat in the shade in the tack room and talked with him on occasion and just watched all the goings-on.

Once he was settled and didn't seem bothered by anything, we walked around in the immediately vicinity of the trailers a little more and I went over to one of the large mounting stands they have constructed and worked on parking Diggy in various spots and positions. He did really well with all of that. I thought about saddling up and riding in the little arena, but wanted to get home to watch the Super Bowl so scratched that idea. Going to hopefully do a couple little rides at home this week and (if the weather cooperates), we have plans for another ride with Beth on Friday.

** Oh! I had a dentist appt this afternoon and have a tooth update! I'm going to be losing the canine on the bottom right for sure, that root is broke all the way across, no saving it. All the other teeth looked really good and my roots on my incisors were much longer with the closer more detailed x-rays than they looked in the panoramic, and all of them look very healthy for now. They ground down a little of the composite material on the front of my bottom teeth so I can now close my jaw! Yay! I also discovered last week that I can chew regular food, as long as I cut it up really small first (no biting), so I'm off my smoosh food diet. Double-Yay! **
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