Saturday, January 31, 2015

Solo Trip #20

So, Shar is out of town at the regional endurance convention, but I wanted to ride.  And Nathan has expressed mild interest in riding, but I have only the one horse.  So I decided that today, I'd take him up there with me and go around the "block" (country block--it's just shy of a mile and a half of dirt/gravel roads) once on foot while he rode Arya, then at least once riding her while he waited at the barn and played with the cats or whatever.

First, we headed out to see the foal, where we also bumped into R (Shar's husband).  We went and petted the foal a bit, then headed out to fetch Arya.  Nathan "helped" groom her (I had to tell him to curry/brush her like he meant it--he was doing it gently, like he was petting a cat or something), then I tacked her up (he knows how, but the saddle is heavy and the horse is tall, so I just did it) and we headed to the round pen.

I lunged Arya around in circles a few times, walk and trot, changing frequently.  She seemed well in tune and ready to work, so I tightened the cinch, added the bridle, and Nathan climbed aboard (from the ground--sheesh!).  I had to remind him that this is a whole different horse than what he rode on dude rides--she's young and not as easy to cue.  I showed him how to one-rein stop, etc., and they practiced a bit in the arena.  Then I added the lead rope (last time I took her on a solo ride, she didn't want to leave the property so my plan was to lead her as far as seemed necessary, then see how they did with me nearby but not literally holding the rope) and we were off.

She walked right out the driveway, no problem, and we turned left.  After we walked 100 feet or so without incident, I asked Nathan if he wanted me to let go of the lead rope.  He said it was fine, so I looped it around the horn and we started walking independently.  Except Arya thought she'd rather go home, and figured the lightweight on her back wouldn't do much to stop her.  He did try, but she kept turning toward home and he was having a rough time dealing with her, so I took the rope again and we set off.  Nathan wasn't too bothered--it meant he could warm up his hands in his sleeves instead of having to hold the reins with both hands.

Oh yeah, so when we left Bend, it was nice and sunny, and fairly warm.  But between Redmond and Terrebonne, there was a bank of clouds/fog, and it was 36 and foggy, plus a little breezy, during our walk, and Nathan had brought only a thin jacket.  REALLY thin.  Jogging pants material, not even fleece.  I offered him my fleece, but he didn't want it.  But he was shivering all over, poor kiddo.

Arya did pretty well--there was someone riding an ATV on his/her property, which she found intriguing, and the usual dogs and boulders and signs to gawk at, but she did very well.  Here's photographic evidence of Nathan riding (well, passengering) Arya:

Apparently she's not impressed

About halfway around the block, I asked Nathan if he'd be up for trotting a bit.  I'd jogged a few stints, even slower than my normal jog, just bouncier than walk but about the same speed, just to get a little more exercise on our outing.  Nathan said he was okay with trotting, so I had him squeeze with his legs while I also started jogging and said "trot!" and it worked.  (Arya's not the best about trotting in hand, which we need to work on before our first endurance ride--you have to trot them away and back to the vet so the vet can assess how sound they are as part of the vet check.)  I glanced back a time or two, and Nathan still remembers how to post.  We took a walk break, trotted again, etc. most of the long side opposite the house.  Yay!

When we got back, Nathan hopped off, I attempted to put spurs on (I'm wearing different tennis shoes than usual today, though, and they wouldn't stay in the right place so I skipped them), adjusted the stirrups, tightened the cinch a bit more, and got on.  I let R know that Nathan was supposedly going to be watching the clock, but if he wouldn't mind, if I wasn't back in a reasonable amount of time, coming to check on me.  :-)  The walk around the block had taken 30 minutes, but the trotting was all VERY slow, so I was hoping to make better time on my solo trip.

We headed out the driveway, and she didn't balk at all (well, okay, as we passed the area where her food is, she let me know she'd rather head that way, but once we got past that, she was fine with the actual driveway/gate area).  We turned left, the same way we'd gone with Nathan (I figured I'd go this way first, so everything was super familiar to her, then go the opposite direction the next time).  I asked her to trot as soon as we got out the driveway, which she did.  She tossed her head a bunch, which she does at the trot ALL the time.  With me, with Nathan, and even when lunging.  Might need a chiropractic adjustment, or maybe it's just her telling me what she thinks about trotting.  

Then we reached the end of the fencing for her pasture--she DOVE left, onto the neighbor's property.  Um, not cool.  I fought with her a bit--she really wanted to turn around, but got her headed the right direction without TOO much struggle, and we trotted some more.  We alternated trotting and walking (and I tried to make it my idea when we did slow to a walk), without further incident.  There is an area where there's kind of a berm along the road, and I zig-zagged her up and down it for a little variation instead of just the road the whole time.  She did really great.  

Got back, checked in with R, and noticed Nathan sitting in the car, with the headlights on (they're always turned to "on," but they turn out when I lock the car, or when I just park it long enough, so he must've turned the key to accessories, at least).  I let Nathan know that the heat would never warm up unless it was running, plus I didn't want him running down the battery, so I told him to start the car, run it for a few minutes, then turn it and the lights OFF.  Well, of course the battery was dead (I need a new one--it also died at the airport when Nathan and my dad were flying at Christmas).  Ugh.  Well, luckily R was home, so I knew we could jump it later, so I headed out for my second loop.

Went out the driveway without incident and turned right.  Passed the arena, and once again, as soon as we crossed the property line, Arya DOVE back in the direction of home.  This time with a little more gusto--I'd turn her away and ask her to move forward, no dice.  She'd either stubbornly turn back toward home, or refuse to go.  Ugh.  Then the neighbor's horses came up to the fence, making her even MORE obstinate about wanting to hang out with them, not continue on down the road.  We spent probably ten minutes going 100 yards or less.  We'd walk a few steps, then she'd turn toward the horses/home/anywhere except where I wanted her to.  I'd turn her back toward the road.  She'd quit moving her feet.  I'd kick and whack at her with the whip, she'd move a couple of her feet (not a couple of feet of progress--moving two or so of her four feet, making a couple of INCHES of progress), and we'd start all over.  SO frustrating.  I was really wailing on her with the crop a few times, and she'd just shuffle her feet.  I was SO tempted to get off and MAKE her move.  It was tempting because we weren't that far from "home" and the mounting block, so I could've made her do a few circles, hauled her home, and gotten back on.  But then what?  Likely we'd still have the same issues when I was back on.  So I just worked her through it.  Well, not really.  I'm not sure she LEARNED anything, but we finally got past that neighbor's property and she started walking like a normal horse.  Sheesh. 

We trotted most of the rest of the way around the block, but very slowly.  It was hard to get her to trot very fast at all, and I felt like I was "pedalling" her practically the whole time--while posting (which is a bit of an effort when the horse is barely moving), I'd squeeze on every "down."  Ugh.  Every once in a while, she'd find some impulsion, which was nice, but most of the time it was effort.  Then we turned the final corner toward home, and on the final stretch, she actually found some speed.  Woo!  Then she once again DOVE for the corner of her pasture--not sure what she thought she'd accomplish since it's, you know...fenced.  But I got her back on track and we walked the rest of the way home without incident.  

While we were gone, R had jumped my car and Nathan was sitting in it with the engine running and the heat blasting.

I untacked Arya, brushed her a bit, and turned her loose in her pasture.  She instantly rolled.  It's hard to see, since the dirt is pretty much the same color as her coat, but here's a freshly-rolled Arya:

Nathan and I were both pretty chilled, so we hit up a Vietnamese place in Redmond for some pho on our way home.  The pho hit the spot, but the restaurant was pretty cold.  My nose is STILL cold.

But all in all, a nice day.  It was great to share my horse with my kiddo, and to do a little bit of solo riding.  Maybe next time I want/need to ride solo, I'll try going a little further from home.  :-)

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