Thursday, October 30, 2014

Another Night Ride

First, I forgot to mention in my last post about the trail ride on Sunday about the bikes we encountered.  I wasn't sure if she'd encountered bikes (bicycles, not dirt bikes; I'm not sure whether she's encountered those, either, but we didn't encounter them on the trail ride, so this isn't about that).

Anyway, so even though horses have the right of way over every other type of trail user, when we saw some mountain bikers on the trail, we went ahead and got off the trail for them.  I think we were already stopped, so it was no biggie for us to just step off the trail a couple feet and let them ride by.

The first time, Elk spooked a bit, mainly just trying to crawl into Flash's lap so he'd protect her.  The second time, she was VERY looky, but stayed where I'd put her.  The third and fourth time (one of which we kept walking past the bikes that had pulled off the trail, and the other we got off the trail for them), she MAYBE turned an ear their way, but otherwise ignored them.

That's basically how she's handled every "spooky" think we've encountered.  Barking dogs, heavy equipment, etc.  The first time, she might do a little spook (which for her basically means planting her feet, occasionally darting a TINY bit sideways, but she hasn't lost me yet and I have NO balance, so we're talking very tiny), but by the second time, she's like "yep, I remember this, and it didn't kill me, so it'll be fine," and by the third time, she must be saying, "oh, this again."

So anyway, last night I went up to Shar's straight after work and we got our respective horses out and ready.  I was running a little ahead of her, which is perfect because I like to round pen Elk a bit before hopping on.  So by the time I was mounted up and ready to go, she was ready, too.  Luckily, it was still light, as I'd been hoping to have some daylight in order to try some cantering.

We headed out at a walk, of course.  Elk was a bit looky, which I'm pretty sure is more about just being excited to be out there and needing something to occupy her mind at a boring old walk or something, because it's the "home stretch" that we ride past EVERY time we ride out of Shar's, but whatever.  She also roots and mouths at the bit for the first part of a ride, but almost always settles in after 10 minutes or so.

Anyway, once we'd warmed up a bit, we did some trotting, which she did great at, motoring right past the annoying barking dogs without even a twitch.  (Her ears were already flopped out to both sides, and they stayed relaxed.)

Next straight stretch, Shar asked if I was ready to canter.  Ready as I'll ever be, so canter we did.  She did great!  The next stretch of cantering took us around a corner, and there was a gate and some other potentially "scary" things, so I kind of held her back a bit so we'd both be a little more prepared if she spooked a bit.  But she didn't spook.  However, now we were more than a few yards behind Shar and Flash, so she wanted to speed up on the straight stretch.  I let her.  Good to know her speed is controllable.  Such a good girl.  Both those canters had been on the right lead (I just cued her faster, not for a specific lead), so the next time, I tried to cue for a left lead, and she did it.  Woo!  She didn't spook at any of the mailboxes we passed, either.  So check that off the list and she did great!

Then it started getting darker and our ride got a little tamer, though we did trot some more even in the dark.  I'm getting more comfortable with riding in the dark, though our only stretch of trail after dark was lit by Shar's phone's flashlight app--we couldn't find where the trail branched off from the road, so she used the light to find it, then figured we (and the horses) were night blind enough we should keep using it until we got back to the road.

Elk's so funny--Flash walks slower than she does, so sometimes she powers ahead and leads the way.  She's on high alert, ears forward, watching for anything spooky, but she motors on ahead.  Then she spies something that makes her a bit nervous--a mailbox or sign, usually--and STOPS.  She waits for Flash to pass her, then dives right behind his butt, where she feels safer, and motors on past it in his wake.  So.  Not the bravest pony, but hey, she knows how to mitigate that.  Obviously she'll need to get more brave (and/or trusting of me) before we set out alone, but then I'm not super-confident, either, so she's probably right not to trust me quite yet.  We'll get there, and riding with Flash to protect us in the meantime will help.  :-)

No photos this time.  Just picture blackness, with crazy patches of reflectiveness when a car was pointed at us.  :-)


  1. Hi, I stumbled across your blog a year ago and have been following your horse journey. It mirrors my own horse journey in a lot of ways. It is super exciting to see that you finally found the right horse for you. Wishing you and Elk many more happy trails.

  2. Yep, our first ride was already an improvement over my entire experience with Trigger. Do you have a blog? I'd love to read about your journey.