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.

2 comments:

DarcyLynne said...

Great story and glad you had a relatively uneventful time. Looking forward to more stories. Don't be surprised about the 'dog' issue. Most horses raised as Diego have a tendency to be cautious with roaming dogs. All of my pasture / herd horses don't like dogs, especially furry ones, coming up into their space. I would imagine Diego has seen his far share of coyotes! :)

Take care.

Endurance Granny said...

Yep! The dog thing must be hard-wired into them. My process for the dog thing is to face the dog, and then to chase the dog! That pretty well puts the skids on dog behavior. My horse REALLY doesn't like dogs. Keep at it with your training. Last year this time my horse couldn't go on the trail without wigging out, wouldn't get into a horse trailer, couldn't and wouldn't cross water, and about a list a yard long of wouldn'ts and couldn'ts. Now we are zooming down the trail at a nice clip! Still stuff to work out, but perserverence pays off. ~E.G.

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