Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Solo Ride 7/15/15

Well, since I didn't get much riding in at Bandit, I really needed to RIDE my horse.  It seems like the weeknights fill up with other stuff, but Wednesday I got out there and did, indeed, ride.

I dawdled for a while, including trying a new app out.  It's called Road ID (I think by the same people that make the bracelets and stuff).  Besides the main purpose, you can also use it to create a wallpaper photo that has any medical information and emergency contacts on it.  But the main reason I downloaded it and wanted to try it was that you can use it to have your contacts track your ride, and they don't even have to have the app.  You specify a time that you plan to be gone (I'm guessing if you're gone longer, it'll set off alarms) and who you want it to contact about your ride, and how.  The contact(s) get either an e-mail or a text saying that you're going for a ride (or run or whatever--you can customize the message), and a link to click to see your dot move on a map in real time.  So as long as they're at a computer or have a smart phone, they can see where you're at.  Then, if you stop moving for more than five minutes, it first warns you (the rider) with an alarm, and if you don't respond, it sends out a notice to your contact(s).  Pretty spiffy for someone who rides (or runs or whatever) alone.

So first I just turned on the app as if I was going for a ride, then proceeded to set my phone on the fender of the trailer while I tacked Arya up.  So I got to hear the audible alarm to ME that I wasn't moving, then Shar got a notification that I'd stopped moving.  So that part worked, at least.  I stopped that "ride" and finished tacking up.  Then when I was ready to get on, the app wasn't working and I had to restart my phone.  Oops.  So I let Shar know my planned route (one we've ridden together many times) just in case the app didn't work as well as planned, and warned her that I was just going to rely on the app and not message her with updates every 20 minutes or so like I normally do.

So we set off.  Arya used to be fairly fine about leaving the house.  She'd try to turn around and return home, sure.  And she's rather obnoxious about it.  She'll try to be subtle, turning ever-so-slightly toward the left (the direction of the pasture).  If I didn't stop her, she'd turn more and more.  But I do stop her--I steer her a bit to the right to get her back in the middle of the road (literally--it's a seldom-traveled dirt road, so I just ride right down the middle of it).  Then she figures, "Fine--you want to go to the right?  Let's just go ALL the way to the right, into a U-turn."  So we go down the road like a drunken sailor, her trying to exaggerate every turn into a turn for home.

However, now that she and Emma have fallen in looooove, it's a bit worse.  She still pulls the drunken sailor tricks, maybe even a little more than usual, PLUS she hollers for Emma the whole way down that first stretch.  And then down the second stretch, though quieter.  And finally when we turn away from home at the next intersection, she started to calm down with the hooting and hollering as well as the swerving.  She STILL doesn't have a whole lot of get-up-and-go when heading away from home solo, but she finally started GOING at least.

She shied mildly at a few things, but was actually really good about not spooking, especially for being solo.  She didn't even balk at the former mud puddles that had slight discoloration from the rest of the road, but just plowed right through!  At the llamas (or alpacas), she slowed WAY down and had VERY sticky feet, but did keep forward progress, and never spooked at them at all.

When we turned the corner and headed for home, of course she sped up, but not wildly so.  :-)  She's still her, after all.  :-)  When we went up the hill that I've tried cantering on in the past (to no avail--she just trots fast until she peters out), she actually gave me a canter for a couple strides, then slowed back to a trot.  I asked again, and she cantered again for a couple more strides.  And I didn't panic.  Woo hoo!

When we turned down the "final" homestretch (there are a couple more turns RIGHT when we're almost back, but it's what I consider the homestretch, and Arya, too, apparently), Arya got antsy to go.  I have her ONE try to trot, but when she took off at a fast clip and wouldn't slow when I asked her to (it probably took 30 seconds to get her back down to a walk), she lost the chance.  In fact, when I got close to the road that we'd left on (getting back to the "stick" of the lollipop basically), I turned her that way as if we were going for a second loop.  She was NOT amused.  In fact, she started hollering for Emma.  Oh NO you didn't.

So now she got to walk away from home until she could do so calmly.  It took a few hundred yards, but when she was finally walking nicely on a loose rein without hollering for Emma, we turned around.  Then turned down a different road for a minute or two.  Then turned back around toward home again.  I was ready to make a "wrong" turn at every intersection we came to, but when we got to the next one, she was actually walking nicely on a loose rein and I wanted to reward that, so we turned toward home.  Next intersection, same thing so we again turned toward home (I did steer her AROUND the corners instead of cutting them completely, but we did go toward home without any deviation).  Good girl!  We were walking nicely on a loose rein all along the true home stretch when a truck backing out of their driveway spooked her--the biggest spook of the night, and I actually lost a stirrup.  But I didn't fall completely off, so that's good.

We arrived home safe and sound, and hadn't had to stop to text (or text while riding, which is dangerous if only because if my phone falls on the ground and then gets stepped on by giant feet wearing steel shoes, it would NOT survive).  Woo hoo!

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