Monday, October 27, 2014

Long day of horse-riding

Yesterday, I was out of my house for thirteen hours, for a two-and-a-half-hour trail ride.  But I'm not complaining--it was a horse-filled day.

I got up at 6:30, left the house at 7:45, and got to Shar's house at 8:30.  We were planning to leave at 9, and I needed to get Elk out, groom her, move her tack to the truck, etc.  And feed her breakfast--she gets grain and her vitamins in the morning, and it was my first time watching her wolf them down.  Here's her "feed mustache":

Thanks, Mom!  nom nom nom nom nom...

We hit the road at 9:00, as planned.  First stop was for gas, second stop was at J's house.  She has an AWESOME property and is working on getting an equine therapy program started.  We put her horse into the trailer behind Flash and Elk.  Elk had figured that the trailer stopping meant she got to get OUT, so she was not happy when it actually meant that another horse, and a strange (to her, she's actually very sweet) mare was getting crammed IN next to her.  But Shar reminded her of her manners, and we hit the road.  The cab of the truck was crammed full with Shar and me, Noelle (Shar's dog), and "my" saddle, so J had to drive behind us.

After one wrong turn and turning the truck and trailer around, we got to R's house right about when we planned to.  She, too, has an awesome horse property.  R does barefoot trimming and was going to trim J's horse and give a demo to Shar and me.  Flash has shoes all the way around, so he was not going to be a part of the lesson, so Shar turned him around in a pasture R wasn't currently using.  Elk is barefoot, and while we've only recently been working on even picking up her feet and I have no idea how patient she'd be for trimming, we kept her tied up nearby in case we got around to her.

R has a nice tying area with eye bolts screwed into nice solid trees.  Unfortunately, Elk managed to get her halter through the carabiner, which trapped her face RIGHT next to the tree, which of course she was not thrilled about.  Luckily, she's pretty smart, so she didn't panic big time--she freaked a bit, then realized that holding still hurt less than fighting it.  I went over to release her, and JUST as I got the halter ALMOST to the point of being able to remove it from the carabiner, she pulled back again.  I got my fingers out of the way, and she pulled back hard enough that she straightened the eye of the bolt.  Oops.  I owe R an eye bolt.  So I tied her to the trailer instead, and the lesson commenced.

R showed us trimming by hand with a rasp, then with a grinder.  Who knew?  The demo horse, Willow, had experienced the grinder before, so she was great.  Shar got to give it a try (with the rasp, not the grinder), and then we realized it was almost noon, which is when J had a plan to go look at a potential new horse.  So R did her thing and finished Willow's feet quickly while Shar and I went potty and added Elk to the pasture with Flash.  They currently live in neighboring pastures, but haven't been turned loose together, but it worked fine.  Flash pretty much ignored Elk in favor of the grazing.

We all piled into J's car and went just down the block to where the potential new horse's owner lives, and met her old gelding before traipsing a little FURTHER down the road to where the potential new horse was being boarded.  He was an adorable buckskin quarter horse, and both the current owner and J have some things to think over before deciding if he will be J's (non-potential) new horse.

It was probably 2:00-ish when we got back to R's house and started tacking up, and we probably hit the trail at 2:30-ish.  In addition to the great property, she also has wonderful trail access.  First, you head down a gravel road past a couple of houses.  At this point, a dog or horse or something on one of those properties spooked R's horse (who was VERY wound up), and Elk spooked a bit, too.  I have to admit, my heart skipped a beat or three.  But she settled back down right away, and my heart rate followed a minute or three later.

Then we came to a road along a canal (currently empty now that they've shut off the water), and then a wooden bridge over the canal.  I wasn't sure how Elk would do, of course, but everyone else led the way, and she kind of arched her neck and looked at the surface as if to ask, "Are you sure?" but then she marched right over it.

The trail wound through forest then out into the desert.  I didn't get my phone out very often, but here are a few photos:

Willow and J, and some gorgeous scenery

Aptly-named Horse Butte

J and Willow - aren't they adorable?
 As you can see in the photos, there were some ominous-looking clouds.  What you can't see in the photos is that they were headed towards us.  R kept assuring us that the trail we were on would circle back around toward her place.  I was pretty sure we just kept heading farther and farther away.  Which wasn't a problem at first, but eventually we were just getting colder and colder and more worried about the weather.  I checked the tracker on my phone, and yep, just heading farther and farther away, with no sign of circling back.  So we ended up bushwhacking toward a road then taking that road back to R's.  Luckily, the bad weather somehow skipped over us or went around us or something, so all we experienced was some wind.

During the ride, Elk got to follow (working on keeping distance between her and the horse in front of her), lead (both walking and trotting), and we also cantered for a tiny bit.  She was a GOOD girl.  I'm so happy with her!

Our ride was 2 1/2 hours and somewhere between 8.5 and 9.9 miles, depending on whose tracker you believe (same app, different phones--crazy how different they are!), my longest distance so far.  I could barely MOVE when I got off, and my lower back was really sore after, but now (24+ hours later), I'm actually not that sore.  My body's getting used to this crazy horseback riding thing.  Woo!

Anyway, Shar and I stopped for food on the way home, then ate it while watching TV, then still needed to feed all the other critters and put my tack away and such, so I got home at 8:45.  Long, but awesome day

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