Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Shades of Scared

Bucking Beauty:
The weird weather over the last month meant that most times we were riding in the arena.  I don't mind riding in the arena.  However, when the weather doesn't cooperate, it can get busy.  The last two times in the arena, a young lady and her friend joined in.  The young lady has a new horse....a 4-year old ex-race horse that she wants to train for games and barrel racing.  This mare is not used to being ridden.  She carries her head very high and doesn't actually walk, she prances.  She only knows to go straight and fast...really fast.  She bucks when she's asked to trot or lope in a controlled manner.  She is spooky and will take off.  Not a great scenario when it's crowded, but the young lady wants to expose her new mare to everything so that she's ready for the show scene.  I get that, but I really hate hearing "look out!!" from behind me as she is trying to get her horse under control.   Perhaps part of the problem is that it's sensory overload for the mare and she's frightened???   It was so bad one afternoon, that all of us exited the arena because the mare was totally out of control.  It was thought that lunging might get her "head" back.  I didn't stick around.....I had had enough of her horse taking off and bucking.  Sigh.

Full Speed Ahead!:
Flooding has affected the trails around the barn, but the nicer weather and crowded arena encouraged people to get out.  Obviously, the grass and trails are slippery because of the wet, muddy conditions.  The other day, DH's Mom, TS and SS were out on the trails.  TS and DH's Mom started to walk into the forest, when suddenly they heard the thumping of hooves and SS yelling "WHOA!!!!  WHOA!!!".  For some reason, SS's horse spooked and bolted at a full gallop across the muddy field.   It took a while, but eventually SS was able to convince his horse to stop galloping.  It was very, very scary for both rider and the observers.  The other horses went into high alert, wondering why SS's horse took off in the first place.  Every little thing set them off.  The ride was a short one.  My first thought was why didn't SS execute an emergency half-halt?  Perhaps the slippery conditions would have caused his horse to fall???  He has been using a bit-less bridle lately, and I wondered if he had been using a bit would it have made a difference in slowing his horse down quicker??? 

Too Big!!!
I had a friend from downtown Toronto visit over the Easter weekend.  He had never been near a horse and was excited and afraid at the same time about meeting Gem.  He was totally freaked out when he saw how big Gem is and he tried very hard to mask his nervousness because he knew that Gem might feed off of it.  Initially, he wouldn't touch Gem.  Eventually, he started helping me groom and tack up.  :-)   There were a couple of other riders in the arena when we arrived.  My friend put on a helmet and made himself comfortable on a stool.  Initially, he was nervous as horses passed in front of him, but after a while he relaxed; he was my cheering section when I loped around the arena.  :-)  At the end of my ride, I asked if he wanted to sit on Gem.  He hesitated and I could tell by his colour that he was very nervous, but he said "yes"!  Up he got.  Gem was a gem as usual and I led my friend around a few small circles.  He was mortified at how high up he was and how powerful Gem felt, but when he dismounted and was on the ground, he was so excited that he had faced his fear.  I was impressed!  He could now tell all of his Toronto friends that he "rode" a horse.  :-)

LA took Gem for a spin the other day and texted me this:  " Gem's mouth is lovely and soft.  Good work!"  I was very pleased.  :-)  She also mentioned that she had him in the water and that I should take him out to the pond because he enjoyed getting wet.  OK.  So the next time I went out, DH's Mom and I went to the pond.....and I froze.  I could not believe how flooded the area was and how large the pond was!  Deep breaths.  Deep breaths.  DH's Mom went right in.  Gem and I walked in about 10 feet.....and he splashed and splashed, soaking DH's Mom.  :-)   I was uncomfortable, and when I felt it was too much, I asked him to walk back to the shore....and he did.  In fact, we went in and out 3 times!  This was huge for me in the "trusting your horse" department.   So the next time we went out on the trails with DH's Mom and TS, we went into the pond and continued walking right across!!!  The water was up to his belly.  I think I held my breath the whole way.  lol!  I was elated when we reached the other side.  We stood for a moment on shore and then walked back through the pond without hesitation!  He absolutely loved it.  :-)

DH's Mom purchased a truck a couple of weeks ago and is in the process of purchasing a trailer.  Initially, she was going to purchase a two-horse trailer but she explained to me over after-ride burgers and beer that if she had a three-horse trailer, her, TS and SS could trailer to other equestrian trails in the region and spend the day.  

Me:   "I would be interested in that!!!" 
DH's Mom (very dismissively):   "You don't like water. We are looking for variety and we really want to ride these trails.  There's all sorts of terrain. You couldn't do it."
Me:  "Oh, I see."
DH's Mom:  "You only ride a few hours a week and we ride almost every day."

I was, well....crushed.  After her comments, I immediately felt inadequate.   Since that time, I have listened to DH's Mom, TS and SS talk amongst themselves about how they will have to drive a couple of hours to this trail and how they would have to stay over night at that trail and how much this one costs compared to this one....and on and on. 

Enter Lady's ex-caregiver.  We actually got together this past weekend for lunch.  A conversation we were having about horse trailers (she used to trailer her Percheron to dressage competitions), transitioned into a discussion about her new Clydesdale, a beauty that she got for trail riding on her property.....yes, she owns 100 acres with trails....oh, and her property has access to a couple of service roads that are connected to neighbour fields who have given her permission to ride through....a trail riders paradise it sounds like to me.  And, she has invited me and Gem to come to her place and ride with her!  She has offered to pick Gem up in her trailer and if I wanted I could leave Gem over night so we could trail ride over a weekend (she's only 30 minutes away from my house, so I would go home and then come back in the morning).  Nice, eh?  

The next time I rode with DH's Mom, I told her about my lunch with Lady's ex-caregiver.  I have to say that I felt great satisfaction in telling her about my invitation to ride with Lady's ex-caregiver on her property.  I also felt great satisfaction when I realized that DH's Mom was envious.  This adventure, which she and the others crave, was handed to me.  
DH's Mom and the others may think my capabilities are lacking, but my horse rocks and makes up for my shortcomings.  He's not the one that spooks regularly (SS) or takes off (SS) or rears and sits down when a bird flies out of the brushes (TS) or buck-a-lopes when she's pissed or in heat, which seems to be all the time (DH's Mom).  My Gem is sane.  Hmm, now that I think about it, do I really want to go off site with these guys???

Knowing that I have a friend who would like to ride with me on her trails (how awesome is that!!!??) has rejuvenated my confidence.   So, my goal over the next few weeks is to ride on my own and go in the pond, play in the mud and when the ground dries out, lope in the field to get used to the feel of the ground under foot.   All of these really push me outside of my comfort zone, but when the stars align and I do get to ride at Lady's ex-caregiver's place, I will be prepared!