Sunday, July 29, 2012

Hey, Dude.....and, Pa-toy-ing!

As I mentioned in my last post, DH's Mom and I went on a trail ride last Sunday morning.  We went out at 10:30 a.m. with the hope of beating the heat....no such luck.  Within 5 minutes, I had sweat dripping into my eyes.  Thank goodness for waterproof mascara!   For the next hour and a half, DH's Mom told me about her awesome dude ranch vacation.

The resort she went to is a family-run working ranch, which hosts 40 people each week.  The Ranch also offered other activities, including hiking, river rafting, fly fishing and mountain biking.  In addition to managing a resort and running cattle, the family runs a high-end reining training facility.  They know horses.  :-)  At the time DH's Mom registered with them, she had to fill out a questionnaire outlining her riding abilities.  


The facility was gorgeous, with small cabins around the main lodge, surrounded by the Canadian Rockies. The first evening was basically getting to know everyone.   Can you just imagine sitting out having a cocktail on this porch?  The next morning, her orientation included getting acquainted with her assigned horse and showing her skills to the wranglers to ensure that she was was matched with the right horse.  There were all levels of riders - some had never been near a horse before this!   After the skill levels were determined, groups were formed - beginners, some experience, experienced, etc.  Each group had, I believe, two wranglers  assigned to them.  A few of these wranglers were actually from Australia!  All of the horses wore special shoes, so that they could better grip the rocky terrain and avoid hoof damage.


DH's Mom was in the advanced group.  One of the wranglers assigned to her group of 4 is a vet student.   He is working towards being a large animal vet.  He grew up with horses. He told DH's Mom that he didn't "love" his horses.  His focus is on respect and ensuring that the horse understands what is required of him/her.  This is my understanding of what he was trying to get across:  "Love" was humanizing a horse and he believes that this is doing a disservice to the horse.  Horses don't "love" each other.  They respect and protect each other, but "love" is not something that is part of a herd environment.   When we start to apply our human emotions to a horse and expect it to be reciprocated, it's not a fair.  Horses are horses.  Guilty as charged!  I am not ashamed to admit that I love my horse to bits.  Absolutely, respect plays a big part in your relationship with your horse, but I also think showing affection makes us relaxed and in turn, makes the horse relaxed.   What do you think of the wrangler's comment??


He also said that horses that have a job to perform; whether it's jumping, dressage or trail riding.  It is our job to make sure they understand what is required and we shouldn't make excuses (humanizing) for them not performing their job.  They either do their job or they are made to do their job.  OK, I sort of get this.   Actually, DH's Mom follows this line of thinking and I have to say that DH has not suffered in the least with this approach.  He is solid and well adjusted.  I admit I have a hard time with the disciplining aspect of horse ownership and making Gem do what I ask.  I am inconsistent in this area.   In fact, DH's Mom and LA have told me on numerous times not to let Gem away with stuff and that I baby him. I don't know about you, but I make "human" excuses for Gem all the time when he gives me the business.  "He must be hot", "the flies must be bothering him", "he's tired"....  


DH's Mom rode every day for about 5 hours.  Each day was a different type of ride.  One day they rode along and in the river.  Another they rode up a mountain - the path was less than 3 feet wide in some parts!!  Yikes!!  One day they went through forests.  They would gallop through any terrain put in front of them.  DH's Mom said she had never ridden like that in her life (and she's as old as me!!).  She was pushed way beyond her comfort zone and had to completely trust the horse she was riding.  

Sometimes, lunch would be served out on the trail.  How cowboy is that?!  All the meals were homemade.  Cocktails were at 5:30 p.m., dinner was early evening and very relaxed - lots of talking and laughing.  Very civilized.  DH's Mom said she when she hit the pillow, she was asleep instantly!  She said it was the best sleep she had had in years.  :-)   

DH's Mom said that this vacation not only increased her confidence by pushing her riding comfort level, but this experience also pushed her in other areas.  She came to realize that it was time to make some personal changes.  You see, DH's Mom lost her husband 6 years ago to a brain tumour; he suffered for weeks.  This vacation highlighted that it was time to get out there, be an active participate in life and be with others.  She feels she is now ready to start dating......Giddy up!   :-)

                                                                      * * * * 


Gem and DH were relaxed and OK with just plodding along the trails while DH's Mom chattered away, telling me of her adventure.  As we started to head back,  I suggested that we trot across the small field we were in to the next field opening.  Off we went....Gem doing a lovely big trot.  We hadn't done this kind of activity in a while (back strain) and I was really into it, posting and thinking how amazing it felt.  Suddenly, I felt Gem power up and break into a uninvited lope.  In a flash, LA's comment you shouldn't post a trot when asking for a lope because you are off balance - you should always sit a trot before asking raced through my mind.  She was right...I came down, he came up and I bounced and lost my balance.  I tried to save myself but ended up in the dirt .  


It seems my butt hit first, then my left elbow and then the back of my head.  After I made sure I could wiggle my toes, DH's Mom helped me up.  As I was getting up I felt this excruciating pain shoot up my from my where my inner thigh meets my body.  I was having difficulty walking.  I explained to DH's Mom that it felt like a "pa-toy-ing!".  She immediately understood my description.... Pa-toy-ing = a pulled groin, probably a result of trying to right myself in the saddle.  I limped over to a rock, DH's Mom held Gem and I got back on him.  It hurt like crazy, but riding actually stretched it out a bit.  Getting down was another challenge, as was driving, as was getting out of my car.  I iced my crotch from the moment I got home.   Advil did an amazing job, as usual.  My Husband and I surveyed the damage the next morning:  obviously, I was stiff, I have a lovely black/purple bruise about the size of my hand on one cheek of my butt, numerous other bruises over my arms and legs and a particularly nice swollen one on my left elbow which I was delighted to show the guys at work.  :-)  I consider myself lucky that a) I didn't land on any pointy rocks, b) that I had a helmet on,  c) that my back was not re-injured, d) that my shoulder was not re-injured and e) I didn't actually get stepped on by Gem as I sort of fell in front of him.  So, all in all, not a bad fall.  :-)  

30 comments:

  1. OUCH! That looks painful. I love the way that you've rated your fall. Only horse people could actually rate a fall from a horse as not bad at all. We must be nuts! Hope you heal quickly and are back to riding soon.

    The vacation adventure looks great. I'd love to do that sometime. Don't know if I could last for that many hours and in a western saddle that I wouldn't be used to. All the rides sound wonderful too, again I don't know if I would like the mountain trail adventure on a horse I didn't know (or maybe one that I did :) Still it sounds like so much fun and the place is gorgeous. Glad DH's mom had such a good time and is getting on with life.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I guess we are nuts. :-) I agree - I am not sure if I could stay in a saddle that long. However, DH's Mom rides every day so she had already built up endurance. Skinny mountain trails, to be honest, are not my idea of fun! :-) But, if you have ever seen the Rockies, actually riding in that scenery must have been breathtaking....

      Delete
  2. Oh no! So sorry you had an unplanned dismount. Hope you feel better soon.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Terry! Already well on the road to complete recovery.

      Delete
  3. Where was this place LA's mom went? Can you share the name? I think Brett would love it.
    I'm glad you are okay, other than the bruises -- and so glad you were wearing a helmet.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. She went to a place called Three Bars Ranch. She had nothing but fantastic things to say about it. I am in the process of trying to convince My Husband that he might enjoy it.... :-)

      Delete
  4. Glad to hear you survived your fall without any major damage. Now you will need to get a new helmet or have that one x-rayed to make sure it's still in good working order.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hadn't really thought of that, but you are right. The helmet looked fine to me, but it might be compromised.... Thanks!

      Delete
  5. In answer to your question above, I agree that it is not fair to expect reciprocation of love from animals or anyone else. However, I totally believe that animals are capable of emotions similar to humans and are quite capable of love (and asking for reciprocated respect). I don't believe that any sentient being that can't or won't do a job should be "made" to do a job. That doesn't have anything to do with respect.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree on both counts. My dogs provide affection and if I "love" them up, they reciprocate in their own way. I don't expect them to love me in the same way I do because I am human and they aren't. :-) There is a fine line between "teaching" another being what is expected of them and "making" them do it... In my mind, one is through positive reinforcement, the other through negative.

      Delete
  6. Ouch, I hope you heal quickly! I agree with Wilson that your helmet will need to be replaced or at the very least checked.

    Though I don't ever expect my horse to 'love' me and I try like hell not to give her human excuses, I also allow myself the grace to be human. I *do* love. And as long as I'm not using it as a crutch, I think that's okay.

    I also think that the line about being 'made' to do a job, works only if you've already ruled out external factors. Doing a job at all costs has a pretty high price tag if you've missed out on a medical issue or a training hole.

    That being said, I do agree that most of us amateurs who love our horses give our horses too much leeway. However, if we weren't amateurs giving our horses too much leeway, we might not need trainers as much. So at least we're contributing to job stability. Haha!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Interesting comment re excuses. I think I do use my "human" excuses but I am not sure if it's as a crutch. It's just in my nature to keep everyone happy or comfortable and I do project how I would feel into a situation. For example, with this heat we have been experiencing, I would worry about Gem being too hot and how would I like to be out in this heat with a person sitting on me asking me to trot... so, I might not ask him to trot for very long... :-) Perhaps I do give him too much leeway with this approach.

      Delete
  7. I love your blog. :) I'm going to be watching this more closely...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Carly! Nice of you to stop by.

      Delete
  8. Ouchie!! I'm glad you survived your fall and lived to tell the tale! Good for you for wearing a helmet, too! The outcome might have been so much different.

    I do love my horse! And I'm not ashamed to say it. Yes, she is working for me and doing as I asked, but she has a mind of her own and could easily refuse to do anything I ask and be a pure terror. She takes very good care of us while we ride up into the mountains from 7,500ft elevation to 10, 700ft elevation, over rocky, boulder covered trails that are less than a foot wide! She does it because I ask her to, not because I make her or because I force her. She is willing and happy to cooperate and she loves affection and praise. The more I give to her, the more she is willing to do for me.
    Maybe that's wrong, but it works for us. We've come a long way, with me trying to force my will on her and learning the hard way that she doesn't agree with that kind of training (yeah, being kicked in the face made me quickly understand that).

    I would love to go on one of those Dude Ranch vacations, but I'd always be thinking of my horse at home and wishing I could be riding her there instead of the Dude horses :(

    ~Lisa

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lisa - I will never ride without a helmet. See, I like your approach with your mare. You figured it out that forcing her didn't work. You ask her and she responds. I think you have to find what works with you and your horse. You are both individuals and unique and your relationship should be approached as such. You have no need to go to dude ranch! Those beautiful excursions that you take are amazing!! Love your pictures.

      Delete
  9. Yikes Wolfie!! That really sucks that you fell off, and just when you were starting to feel better.

    On the comments by the vet student "They respect and protect each other, but "love" is not something that is part of a herd environment." But doesn't human love include respect and protection of the one you love?

    I agree that a horse needs disciplining, something that I've had trouble with as well. As someone who more than likely crossed the line of training-abuse. I find myself trying to be easier, but then end up having horses loose some respect of me. Its a very fine line to walk, and its something that I think everyone has problems with some days.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know! The last 6 months have been crap for me injury-wise. :-( I admire you for recognizing that your previous approach to training was aggressive. But, I hear ya when it comes to a horse loosing respect. I think a big part of it is attitude. When LA is around Gem, if he tries to give her the business and she will assertively correct him immediately. Then it's done. Her methods are not mean or physically abusive. I am not confident enough or coordinated to follow suit.....yet.... :-)

      Delete
  10. I'm so sorry about your mishap! I'm glad you weren't badly hurt.

    I have to agree with the wrangler. I adore my horse. But I think it's about perspective. My horse isn't a tool. Well. Sometimes she is. But she's not a tool I use in my work. While I love her to pieces it would be a mistake to think she feels affection for me and motivated by "affection". She's a horse and she sees the world as a horse sees the world. Which is one of the reasons I so love hanging out with horses. It's a refreshing perspective for me.

    Her life is about the herd. And the herd is about hierarchy and pecking order. She needs me to be her herd leader and being a horseman is largely about being the herd leader. She needs to believe I'm smarter than she is and I'm stronger than she is and her best chance for survival and comfort is to do what I tell her.

    She's a bold alpha mare so of course being her leader is always a challenge. She's a good horse. I'm lucky she's a good horse. A "good horse" is never something to take lightly!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. See, DH's Mom also agrees with your/wrangler's perspective. I get it, I do. And, I have seen the result of that approach over and over again. It's me.....I have to find that balance. And yes, your beautiful Canadian is a good horse. :-)

      Delete
  11. Oh Wolfie! SO glad you're basically okay. My recent fall was exactly the same scenario - got off my seat, I was coming down and he was going up. Thank goodness you were wearing your helmet. :)

    I admit that I love my horse. I try very hard to balance affection with discipline. Aren't boundaries what make relationships work - human and equine?!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. CFS - This is my third fall and each time I knocked my noggin. I will never go without a helmet. I totally agree with you...boundaries is exactly what make relationships work. I need to work a bit more on what those boundaries are....

      Delete
  12. Love reading your blog :) as you know I haven't been on much but now I am back I intend to pay closer attention to yours, I'll keep an eye on it ;)

    Sorry to hear about accident sounds extremely painful Wolfie, but I am so pleased that you haven't hurt yourself to badly and that you haven't re-injured anything because that would be a major bummer! Much like you and calm,forward, straight, my last accident was similar to yours and I got pretty much the same damage as you do!

    I've got to see while I haven't got my own horses there are two that I love like they are mine! Jake and Gatsby, and whilst I love them I tried to stay disciplined but when they do something wrong I also come up with excuses like 'the heats bothering him' or 'maybe hes tired now'

    But most importantly I'm glad your okay

    -Amber xxxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Amber! It is hard to find that balance when it comes to respect, love and discipline, isn't it?

      Delete
  13. I'm glad DH's mom had such a great time. BC is absolutly beautiful to go riding through, especially this time of the year.

    I agree with the wrangler to a point. I don't really think horses have the same degree of emotions that we do, but I definitly think they have the capacity to love. Maybe not in the same way we can, but just look at a mare and foal and tell me that's not love.

    I try not to make excuses for them, but I do feel at times you can't deny there's a reason why they're being like that. I've been on rides when the horses have been just awful, but the flies have been so bad you can barely see your hand in front of your face. If I'm being driven insane by the bugs, then I can hardly expect the horses to ignore them and be perfect.

    I'm glad your fall wasn't too bad, although that is one wicked looking bruise. At least you get a good story out of it! I don't know about anyone else, but pretty much the only thing I think of when I fall off is not landing beneath my horse (or in the case of my last fall, not landing beneath the horse beside me). At least you were able to get back on. Hopefully it doesn't take you too long to recover!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Her description of some of the scenery was magnificent. I understand the logic, too, regarding the wrangler. However, it's just a bit cold to me. I think that connecting with any animal on an emotional level isn't a bad thing as long as it's not over the top. Balance....that's the ticket! :-)

      Delete
  14. Oooo Wolfie!!!!! That bruise looks quite impressive! So glad to hear you're not badly hurt, and your back is ok, as is your head and all the other important parts!! Wishing you a super-speedy recovery.

    DH's mum's holiday sounds fantastic; good to know even total beginners are welcome.
    My head understands the wrangler's point of view but, at the end of the day, I believe love plays a big part as well even when dealing with an animal ... and who's to say horses don't love each other? Maybe not in the way humans love but I'm convinced there's something 'more' to the herd dynamic than 'respect and protect'.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Elbow bruise is almost completely gone! The one on my butt is still a lovely colour though. :-) I agree - I think affection and "love" play a part in making that connection with any of our four-legged companions.

      Delete
  15. OOOOHHHHH Glad your ok!!!!! Awesome bruise!
    I do understand and agree with the wranglers point of view but I am also very happy involving human emotions with my horsey realtionships :) I think whatever works for you, go with it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nice to hear from you, Nina! Yes, whatever works for you and your horse is the route to take. I love to "love" my horse and I am not ashamed to admit it! I actually wish he was a bit more affectionate back. :-)

      Delete