Friday, May 8, 2015

Solo Ride - Llamas and Canyons

Shar's just about to bring Flash back into work, but our work schedules don't mesh very well, so if I'm gonna ride, I'm gonna ride solo.  I was planning to ride Wednesday, but neglected to check the forecast, and wind and hail made me change my mind.  :-)  So I postponed to Friday, when I have an extra hour of daylight anyway, due to getting off work at 4 instead of 5.

Shar was going to be at work, so I created a map as a reference to my mom and sister so they could be my safety net for riding solo.  They're far away, but if I fell off and bonked my head and quit texting them, or broke my leg and texted them that I needed help, they could at least call the authorities or something.  Better than no one knowing where I am.  The downside is I have to decide ahead of time what my route will be and stick to it, without deviating.  Though tonight's route included a section of "explore toward the west for some amount of time," but at least they'd have a general vicinity to send out the search party.  :-)

Anyway, I arrived, fetched Arya (she only walked about 10 feet away before letting me catch her--she's getting better about it, maybe due to all the times lately I've pulled her out and not made her work), tacked her up, cranked up some music on my phone (out loud), texted my mom and sister and Shar that I was leaving, and started the Endomondo tracker.  We were off!

Arya did make my life a little difficult as we passed her pasture and continued down the road, but not quite as bad as last time.  We picked up a trot after turning the corner, and stuck to a trot for a good portion of the ride.  It just wasn't a very FAST trot.  I'd urge her faster, and she'd speed up for a second, then slow back to a walk.  I'd ask her to trot, and she would, slowly.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  Definitely something we need to work on.  Ugh.

When we got to the first section of singletrack, we trotted for the first little bit, then Arya went sideways FAST when she saw a grocery sack in a tree branch.  I lost my balance a bit, but quickly got it back because she stopped moving and stared at it.  I let her look, made her move a bit, let her look, etc., and we made it past the bag.  I was worried that the spookiness would bode poorly for the llamas we were about to encounter, but between having already ridden past them solo a couple weeks earlier, and the fact that they stayed back from the fence, she barely noticed them.  Her ear went that direction, and she was clearly watching for any scary movement from them, but we plodded right past them without any antics.

We picked up a trot once we were past the llamas, and even maintained it as a car passed us.  We were far enough from home that she was finally clopping along a little faster, too.  Woo!  We turned the corner, then took a different trail than we had the prior time--there's a trail that parallels someone's property, but off to the side.  At first, I was worried I wasn't allowed to ride there, because there was a sign that said it was private property, but it just said hikers and horses only, stick to the trail, etc.  So we set off.  She balked a little at a couple silver logs, and didn't want to trot because it was kind of rocky (even where the rocks were off to the side of the trail, not actually IN it, but you know that rocks are evil monsters, so she had to be very cautious.  I gave up on the idea of maintaining a trot on that trail, and we just explored.  There was a branch in the trail, and I stayed left.  Shortly after that, the trail broke out at the edge of a canyon, with gorgeous views:

The trail followed along the edge of the canyon.  It would have been a really nice spot to ride, if I wasn't so worried about Arya going off the cliff (or rubbing me off on a tree) because of the white chalky rocks.  Whoa...a different COLOR!  They must be POISON!  Heh.  Plus I didn't want to end up being out past dark or anything, not that it was even close to that point.  But anyway, I decided to turn around.  Arya walked a little peppier after turning around, but still wasn't interested in trotting through the rocks.

THEN, horror of horrors, we hit the worst part of the trail yet (to her).  There was a pasture to our right, with a horse and a pony in it!  !!!!  Then we were at a rocky patch of trail, where it was basically like steps, downhill.  !!!!  Then there was a random structure off to our left, like a treehouse or something.  !!!!  Arya stopped dead, unsure whether to head toward the safety of other horses, away from the threat of strange horses, off the trail (and into a tree) instead of clambering down the rocks, but if so, then which way--away from the scary structure?  But then that would be toward the other horses...  Her little brain was churning about what was the path of least resistance.  I made the decision for her--FORWARD, and ON the trail.  It took a few times of "un-sticking" her, but we finally started walking at a normal pace again.  Sheesh.

Once we got back on the road, she was very eager to continue home on a route she remembered from a couple weeks ago (plus many rides with Flash).  So we worked on our halt and stand still skills for a few minutes, plus I texted an update.  THEN we headed home.  The road inclines slightly for a quarter mile or so, then has a steeper uphill portion for a little bit.  When we got to the steeper section, I encouraged her faster and faster, to see if she would canter, but she just trotted faster until she wore out (uphill and all), and slowed a bit.  I kept her trotting till we got to the top, and she was huffing and puffing pretty good.  So we turned around and went back down the hill to try it again, though a little slower this time.  Didn't even try to canter, just a nice steady trot.

We continued on, trotting nearly the whole way for the next mile or two.  She didn't even slow down when we got to the part that had been watered or oiled or whatever.  Good girl!  She learned last time that it wouldn't hurt her, I guess.  :-)

Here's a picture from around that point.  I was trying to take a picture while trotting that included her brand.  Yeah, didn't work so well--the camera focused on the road instead of her, but oh well.  I still like it.

We took a shortcut rather than taking a loop I'm not a fan of (and neither is Arya--it's either riding on asphalt or soft gravel punctuated by concrete driveways), and headed home.  Of course Arya was in a BIG hurry by this point, so I kept checking in with her, making sure we had brakes.  :-)  Sometimes we'd just slow to a walk, sometimes halt and practice standing still for a minute.  When we got to the turn to go home, she wanted to go that way, of course, so instead, we went the long way around the block toward home.  Then we did a branch off onto a side road, then turned back toward home again.  Then we passed our turn for a minute, then turned back (a couple times).  Then we passed the driveway, then turned around (a couple times).  Then we went into the driveway and back out of it.  She was never bratty about any of this, but I don't want her to become that way, either.  This was all at a walk, so it slowed our overall speed some (as did the "exploring" portion), but we had plenty of daylight, so it was all good.

I untacked her, then Arya got some water and a good roll, and I headed home.  Another successful solo ride in the books!

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