A phone call to the horse owner confirmed that it was indeed true, so I met up with five other people this morning at the barn, and met my trusty steed for the first time as well. Her name is Fancy, and she's at least mid-teens and is a former barrel racer, but is a totally sane (if not totally sound) trail mount. She loaded well, which was an auspicious beginning.
|Fancy, my mount for the day|
We unloaded and tacked up, and I noticed when picking up her feet that her fetlock joints snapped and crackled a bit, but she didn't seem too stiff or sore, but I made a mental note to pay attention. Her owner had also told me on the phone the night before that she was barefoot and to take it easy with regards to rocks.
I mounted without too much fuss, and joined the group as we waited for the last few people to mount up. Fancy seemed a tiny bit antsy, moreso after the barn manager's horse freaked out at a grocery bag and pulled back while tied to the trailer for nearly a minute. But once we got going, she seemed to indeed be a trusty mount.
We arrived at the water crossing with one other horse ahead of us. That horse balked a bit and backed into Fancy, but she took it okay, and we went ahead into the water. She was a bit thirsty, so I let her drink, then she started pawing at the water and got me all wet, so I encouraged her forward. She didn't want to move forward at first, but I insisted. I gave her one more chance to drink at the far side and she drank quite a bit, then started pawing again. I urged her forward again, and she practically leaped out of the water. Weird, but no biggie.
The four of us with cooperative horses stood on the other side of the water, while two horses put up a BIG fuss about going in the water. One person crossed back in an attempt to pony, then another crossed to swap horses, etc. They tried a butt rope, which only resulted in a HUGE bucking fit. Meanwhile, the two of us staying out of the fray had horses that were getting more and more antsy. Fancy seemed to want to go back to the water, so I let her, assuming she was still thirsty. No, just more pawing. Someone commented that she might roll, so from then on, I kept her out of the water. She got even MORE antsy standing around. I'd been keeping her from eating partly out of habit and partly because the reins were so short she bumped into the bit even with my hand in the middle of the (single) rein and resting on the horn. So I made the conscious effort to let her eat (leaning forward to completely give her her head), and she was MUCH calmer now that she was distracted.
Finally, the barn manager decided to give up. It turns out her reason for seeking out a water crossing was because her horse is green (this was like his sixth ride!) and she wanted to teach him to cross water. His entire experience prior to this consisted of one exposure, at the pond in the pasture. He stepped into it, and she quit the session and decided upgrading to a trail ride with six people was a good idea. I have no idea why the other horse wouldn't cross it. Anyway, so the barn manager decided to find a way around it, but the other gal decided to stay and work her horse through it, and said she'd meet us there or at the trailer later. So the five of us headed upstream on our opposite sides of the stream until we met up, then we continued down the side of the Tumalo Reservoir and up the hill ad headed toward the trails I was familiar with from my time riding there in the past.
We made it to the actual water crossings I had in mind when I volunteered to lead the ride, but of course we didn't cross them. :-) A few of us took a potty break, the horses had a chance to drink, and then we headed back to the trailers.
Throughout the ride, Fancy (with her tender feet) kept veering off the trail to the softer footing. My riding pants picked up two big holes, and my tank top picked up a few small ones. My skin also got a few scratches, but thankfully nothing worse.
Fancy was lagging behind the (very fast-walking) lead horse on the way back (she'd been keeping up on the way out), and when I tried to nudge her into a trot, she would only trot a stride or two before falling back into a walk. Then I noticed that she was limping a bit at the trot, so of course quit trying. When we got to a rocky portion of trail, she flat-out refused to go at first. I felt so bad for her! But we were near the trailers, and it'd be much faster to continue than to turn around and try to navigate a non-rocky route. Poor girl. We got back to the trailers shortly, and I picked her feet, which included a small stone next to her frog. Could have just been picked up in the gravel near the trailers, or could have been jammed in there the entire ride, having been picked up right next to the trailer as we left.
The gal who had attempted to teach her horse to cross water (and was successful, apparently!) was nowhere to be found, so the rest of the group went off looking for her (the barn manager and her horse who wouldn't cross water, and me and "my" horse who was ouchy stayed behind). They returned without finding her, and she wasn't answering her phone, but her son said that was just about par for the course. Finally, she called in and said she'd be there soon, so the barn manager, who needed to get back, and I left with our two horses.
Back at the barn, I hosed Fancy off, which she settled right in to--it must have felt good! Then I went and said hello to Trigger, who must be feeling really itchy--I scratched his face, moved toward his neck, and he showed me exactly what he wanted me to do. I rubbed/scratched the front (underside) of his neck and he stretched and made the most blissful look a horse can make. I needed to get the Humane Society (I volunteer there, taking photos of kitties for their website) with enough time before they closed, but I plan to go out there tomorrow, give him a good grooming and a bath, and work him a bit, possibly including a trail walk for both our sakes.