Monday, February 15, 2016

My 1000-Pound Valentine

Shar and I had originally been planning to go to a Trail Course Play Day put on by Mustangs to the Rescue, but when she and her Valentine decided to go out of town at the last minute, she apologized to me profusely and I started finding someone else who could haul me there.  Shawn stepped up to the plate, and we made plans to meet at Shar's house at 10.  She texted me at 9 that she was ready to go and would be there a bit early.  Oops!  I was just leaving Bend, so told her not to rush.  Got to Shar's, bed the dog, fed Flash and Aschere their morning mash, and got all my stuff together.  I headed out to pull Aschere out of the pasture, and realized it might've been a mistake to feed him along with Flash rather than just pulling him out and feeding Flash alone.  Aschere had eaten his small ration, getting green slime all over his muzzle, then tried to steal some of Flash's once his was gone, getting Flash-drool all over his head and neck.  Ugh.  So I pulled him out of the pasture while trying to keep the green slime OFF of me, and went to fetch Arya.  We were all ready by the time Shawn pulled in, so it was quick to load my gear into her truck and tack room, then load Arya first (over the axle) and finally baby Aschere.  Shawn, having just gotten a gelding who was a problem loader, asked me whether it'd be hard to get Aschere in the trailer (since he's a baby and all), but he's actually trailered quite a few times, so I figured it'd be fine.  And it was.  He was hesitant for a few seconds, but I figured it might be because of that big divider right in front of him if/when he hopped in, so I moved him toward the "short wall," but angled into the larger space, and he hopped right in.  Woo hoo!

We found our way to the site (neither of us had been there, but Google helped us out), and parking was TIGHT.  And more rigs arrived after ours, so it was kind of a madhouse.  Maybe next time, we should plan to arrive toward the end of the session, since it's just a free-for-all, not a show or anything.  But whatever.  We opened the trailer door, and I put my hand on the inside to push it open, and right into a wet mess of diarrhea the baby had deposited there.  Ugh.  Horses.  Unloaded both of "my" horses, Shawn unloaded hers, and we proceeded to groom and tack up.

There's a bit of a size difference...

Arya was hollering from the minute we parked the truck, and didn't stop even when she got outside and could see what was going on.  And didn't stop the entire time.  So I'm figuring that she was not happy that of all the horses we could've brought with us, we brought her least favorite, the annoying baby.  And not her buddy Dalai she's currently pastured with, or her buddy Flash who she likes riding with.  Oh well.  She's gonna have to learn to deal.  It was just embarrassing how much noise she was making, though there were other horses acting the same way.  Luckily she wasn't TOO antsy at the trailer, pawing or anything.  Just hollering and shifting around.

Once the horses were groomed, I went to check out the situation, pay for our entries, and use the facilities.  I had envisioned something a bit more organized, with people taking turns on each obstacle at the very least, or possibly taking turns in the arena.  This was basically a free-for-all, though everyone I encountered was very polite about waiting their turn to use an obstacle, or apologetic if they got in someone's way on accident.  Unfortunately, I didn't get many photos of the obstacles themselves, but here's an overview:

I decided to take Aschere through them first, and let Arya stand a while, contemplating her horrific life without her buddies.  :-)  He was an ANGEL!  I led him over some logs he had to step over, up a step-up (which I realized later wasn't much of a challenge, since it wasn't much higher than the trailer is off the ground!), over a bridge, through a ditch with brush on both sides, through a "car wash" (a tarp hung from an archway and cut into strips), all without incident.  What a good boy!

Then I took Arya.  I decided to take her through by hand first, instead of riding, and am glad I made that decision.  I know I'm not the most confident rider, and we haven't ridden in a setting like this before, so I knew even if she didn't have her own nerves, mine would rub off on her.  So yeah, in hand first.  She did pretty well herself.  She's not graceful at stepping over logs (instead of ON them), but she went through them willingly.  The ditch with brush around it didn't phase her.  She tried to rush past me the first time over the bridge, but we crossed it a few times and she got better.  (She's been over real bridges with actual water flowing under them, but whatever.)  She seemed calm enough about all the hubbub, so I decided to tack her up and mount up.  Took her back to the trailer, tacked up, found the mounting block, and climbed on.  She walked calmly through the crowds of vehicles, horses, and people.  I was so proud of her!  We headed toward a simple obstacle of a couple logs to step over, and she did okay.  We headed toward the step-up hill, and she started making it clear to me that she wanted to head back toward the trailer, and quickly.  She would've broken into a trot if I let her.  I circled her and circled her, and of course the circles were longer toward the trailer, so we ended up in the corner of the arena near the trailer.  Which was fine, though I didn't love that it had basically been her decision that put us there.  Shawn and Holly (former boarder at Shar's) were standing there, so we chatted with them a bit, and she kind of stood still for a bit, but then would get antsy and try to move closer to the gate.  I eventually had her walk toward THEN PAST the gate, which she actually did rather well.  Then we turned around and passed the gate again, and once we got just past it, she made it very clear that she would prefer to exit through the gate, not walk farther away from it.

Here's what she looked like when expressing her opinion--besides her feet moving more quickly toward and more slowly away from the gate, she would toss her head like crazy when we weren't doing what SHE wanted.  I tried to stay calm, sit deep, and wait out the head-tossing tantrums then get back to work on the circles I was asking her for.

Opinionated Mare Tantrum (TM)

And some photos of our many circles...

And finally a photo once I was safely back on the ground again.

So yeah, I only rode her for a few minutes, and mostly in one corner of the arena, but I didn't just put her away once I hopped off.  Once that picture was snapped, she and I got back to work, in hand again, working through the obstacles, but I made her work a bit harder this time.  I first lunged her at the walk, then at the trot, over some large-ish logs.  From the trot, she had to actually jump them instead of just being able to step over them.  Then I led her down a row of trot poles with a ~1 foot high jump at the end.  When I jumped it half a stride ahead of her, I flung the folded-up reins in her face, apparently, so she flung her head up in the air and failed the jump.  Oops.  Tried again, and it was still not very graceful on either of our parts.  I should've recruited an agile teenager to do it instead, huh?

Then we tried the teeter-totter.  It's basically a very sturdy wooden bridge, but with a log secured to the middle of the underside.  The horse steps on one end, and it's like an inclined bridge, but once its weight crosses the middle, it tips downward, likely startles the horse, and then it's supposed to walk off the other end, which is now down on the ground.  Yeah, Arya did NOT like the tipping part ONE bit.  She tried hopping off the bridge right where I was standing.  Luckily, I didn't get hurt, but yeah, not cool, horse.  So I got the whip out, ready to smack her shoulder if she did it again.  Well, that teeter totter is scarier than the whip.  Strike two.  I tried a few more times, but never got fully successful.  Celena needs to build a teeter totter at her place!

We also went to the bigger "car wash" obstacle--it is basically a big square gazebo with the strips of tarp hanging from two sides (opposite each other), and the other two sides blocked in with brush and more tarps and stuff.  The idea is that the interior is darker than it is outside, and a bit cave-like.  Much scarier than just walking through the single layer.  Arya wasn't too sure about entering it, and rushed through the first time, but I got her to accept standing both inside, and part in, part out, with the tarp brushing against both her face and her flank.  Good girl!

I got the baby back out for another round.  He was surprised to discover there were logs buried under the tarp I walked him over, and spooked a bit at first at that, but once he figured that out, he walked calmly through it, watching where my feet landed safely to put his own feet there.  I walked him over the teeter totter, and it was a total non-event.  We went through the double car wash, no big deal.  I saw someone BACKING her horse through the single-layer car wash, so I decided to try that with Aschere.  He didn't want to back into the tarp at first, but eventually did.  What a good, brave boy!  He's gonna be a great horse someday, if he ever gets big enough to ride.  ;-)

Here's a video of the highlights of Aschere's second session in the obstacles:

So.  Shawn and I were both pretty much done.  Her horse, by the way, did pretty well at all the obstacles.  Under saddle, even.  Hmph.  I do need to remind myself that Arya IS only 5 (going on 6), and has a very timid rider (working on that), so I can't fault her TOO much for both being a little timmid herself AND trying her best to take advantage of me.

Anyway, we untacked the ponies, loaded the gear back up, put the horses back on the trailer in the same order they were before, and headed out.  Except now a bunch of rigs had been added to the lot kind of haphazardly toward the end, and some rigs had left, leaving weird spots to theoretically drive through.  Shawn pointed her truck at an opening that looked WAY too narrow to me, between a trailer with horses tied to it and a shed structure attached to a barn.  We made it through, amazingly!  I complimented her on her driving, as did the lady manning the gate of the property.  No sooner had the words come out of the lady's mouth, when there was a thud and a bang and a lurch.  The passenger side of the trailer hit the post at the gate opening.  Oops.  Luckily, it seems that the majority of the damage was to Shawn's trailer (the piece of metal that sits at the front of the running board to keep it from being a knife edge came off), and the post seems to have been intact, just displaced from the dirt it was set in.  They set it upright with a tractor, and hopefully will be able to reset it without much trouble, though Shawn provided her insurance info.  Hope they don't end up needing to do anything with it!  So poor Shawn, who had driven so confidently through the small space just second prior, was now gunshy about driving her rig anywhere near anything.  I hope Richard can fix her trailer for her, and that the post is fine.  Ugh.  What a crappy end to what was otherwise a pretty fun day.

We got back to Shar's, unloaded the two horses who live there, and got all my stuff out of her rig, and she headed home.  I put the gear away, was STARVING, so went into town.  It was only 3-ish, so felt like a weird time to go out to eat, so I bought the makings for guacamole, some chips, and some salsa, and had a little Mexican dinner at home (at Shar's) in front of the TV.  I fed the dog at her dinnertime, had a quick sit in the hot tub, and by 8-ish, was feeling pretty beat.  So I went to bed.  Why bother staying up, right?

In the morning, I fed all the critters, ate a little breakfast (cheesecake--breakfast of champions!), then debated whether to ride.  I'd be riding solo, which would be good to practice on, but what if it didn't go well?  I called my mom to ask if she'd be around to virtually keep an eye on me (Road ID app sends a link by either text or e-mail to whoever you designate, then can follow you as you go, and it'll send an alarm if you stop moving for a few minutes, first to the rider, then to their contact person(s)--great app for situations like this).  She'd be around, so it was decided, I'd go for a ride.  Noelle heard me talking to my mom, and her previously ho-hum attitude quickly became "can I go, too?  Please?  Please?  Please?  Please?  Please?  Please?  Please?  Please?  Please?  Please?" and so on...  So I fetched Arya and tacked her up, and set all the apps up (Road ID on and alerting Mom, Endomondo tracking mileage, music playing, and last of all, camera ready to take pics).

We set off.  Arya wanted to turn right out of the driveway, I wanted to turn left.  Arya wanted to turn around and go home.  We'd barely started.  She thinks she's sneaky.  She'll creep closer and closer to one side of the road (usually the side toward home, especially while we were still alongside the pasture), then as I'd start steering her away from it, she says (in an exasperated teenage voice) "FINE!  We'll go the way you want." and try to do a 180, when I was just trying to get her to veer a bit back toward the center of the road.  She thinks she's sneaky.  So yeah, we had a few "discussions" on our way out of the area, and again at a couple of intersections, and then she finally decided it was alright that we were heading out and away from home.  We did a bit of trotting.  Then we came to spot where we take a bit of singletrack downhill between two fences.  It's narrow at first, then widens out.  At the top of the hill, Arya stopped dead in her tracks, neck arched like she was an Arabian (normally it's just her tailset that looks Arab, the rest of her sure doesn't!), ears pointed straight ahead.  I was like "yeah, right, you're just trying to convince me to turn around and go home," but Noelle was on high alert and pointing in the same direction.  I strained my eyes and ears, but saw nothing.  In the foreground was a pasture that I don't think has any animals in it, and then a road with no traffic, and then more property that wasn't fenced, and also didn't seem to have any activity.  I still have no idea what they were alerting to.  I prodded her on, and she took a few steps, then stopped again.  Noelle still seemed on alert, too.  We made our way like that for a minute or so, stop, walk a couple steps, stop, till they both visibly relaxed and walked on.  Just as we got right between two trees, and I thought to myself that it would suck if she spooked there and brushed me into a tree, a flock of birds took flight out of a nearby tree.  I think all three of us jumped out of our skin a bit.  Luckily Arya lurched forward one stride, then stopped dead, so while I got off balance backwards then forwards, she didn't go sideways, so I didn't end up in a tree OR on the ground.  Whew!

After a bit of a shy at the pillar of rocks next to the road (this girl does NOT like rocks, no idea why), we made it to the road.

While there is singletrack that parallels this road pretty much its whole length, we stuck to the road.  First, she's a butthead about trying to eat, so keeping her in the middle (or at least not the very edge) of the road prevents THAT behavior, plus after that trip and spectacular fall last summer, I'm leery of trotting on singletrack, especially alone, and wanted to do some trotting on this ride.  So whenever we had the sane option to ride on a dirt road, we did.

As we rounded a corner from a paved road to a dirt one, there's a shortcut that gets you off the paved road (which is rounding a corner there, so the shortcut is much safer!) and makes the corner a little shorter.  It goes riiiiiight next to a fence made of lava rocks.  Did I mention Arya has an issue with rocks?  She balked and shied at that wall.  I got her to stick next to it for a while, and then she was just DONE.  Would go no further next to the fence.  I'm not sure if she actually sensed movement in it (it's full of nooks and crannies and probably at least had squirrels, if not rockchucks (aka marmots) living in it, and possibly snakes...who knows), or if she was just using it as an excuse, but she willingly proceeded away from home as long as we were also going away from the rock wall, so whatever.

We trotted and walked, walked and trotted.  We started getting near a place where I know there's a giant Great Dane.  Nice enough dog, but like most dogs, gets REALLY excited to see horses.  We've ridden by there enough times that Arya doesn't get too excited about it, but it was our first time riding past the Great Dane solo, so I was had it in my mind to be prepared in case she did get a bit excited or worried.  Well.  First we went past a house (just before the GD) that had a little yappy white toy poodle bouncing down the driveway toward us.  Arya stopped and gave it the evil eye.  Then trip-trotted right past the Great Dane with barely an ear flick in its direction.  Ha!  Good pony knows what dogs to worry about.  :-)

We got to another intersection, and as we were headed straight toward the T, we saw some human-shaped figures through the trees.  Not sure if it was kids or adults, but whatever.  However, Arya figured that'd be a pretty good excuse to stop and ask to turn around.  Nope, don't think so.  Prodded her forward.  She craned her neck and ears to keep them in sight as long as possible as we rounded the corner.  THEN we saw it.  Gasp!  A DEER!  A single, lone, deer.  And Arya once again stopped dead.  Now, maybe a deer WOULD be a frightening sight to behold to some horses.  Like the NYC carriage horses.  Or are there deer in Central Park?  Anyway, deer practically live at Shar's neighbor's house, and venture on to her property probably at least daily, so they should not be a startling sight to Arya.  But yeah, she was clearly pulling my leg at every opportunity, trying to convince me to head home.  Not this time, girlie-o!

We continued along, reached a paved road we had to ride alongside, and did so without incident.  Then back onto dirt roads for a long downhill stretch.  Normally, she picks her way downhill really slowly, but she was actually moving out pretty well on this stretch.  Ha!  Now that I know she CAN, I'll expect it when we're with other horses too.  :-)  When we got to the bottom, I couldn't really remember how to get to where I wanted to be.  I'd only been this way once before, following Shar.  I knew we needed to get over to our right, but just didn't remember when we got off the road and onto trails.  I saw a trail that looked like one we had ridden on, but it had a few signs saying it was private property.  Now, there are signs in a few places around Crooked River Ranch that indicate that, and then proceed to say that it's open for use by people on foot and horseback, just no motorized vehicles (or sometimes bikes).  But I honored the signs and continued down the road.  But it really reminded me a lot of the spot we needed to be, so when I saw another trail head that direction, I took it.  And promptly spotted a barbed wire fence.  And followed it to where it clearly went all the way up a steep hill and blocked the direction I felt we needed to go.  Hmm...back to the road.  Arya willingly went along with the turn in direction while we were still off the road, but once we reached it and I wanted to turn right to continue going the way we had been, she made it VERY clear that her preference was that we turn left and head back the way we'd come.  Ah, no.  We've come this far, and we WILL continue until we figure out how to get to the river.  I promised her it'd be worth it when she got to eat and drink.

So we continued down the road, and sure enough, when we got a little bit past where I'd turned off onto the side trail that went to nowhere, it looked really familiar.  Figures!  We topped a small hill, rounded another corner, and then finally saw the break in the fence we were supposed to go through, complete with sign welcoming you to the trails.  :-)  Luckily, I found the turn to get down to the river without any trial and error, and we reached the top of the last downhill.  It's pretty rocky, with roly-poly round river rocks, so not my favorite section even when following a sure-footed horse.  Plus Arya decided that she didn't like the way we were headed and wanted to make it clear to me that we should be stopping, if not turning around and heading home.  So I decided that between her behavior, my sketchiness at the trail, and my extra weight when she needed to navigate, plus the fact we were almost to the spot where I planned to dismount anyway, I'd just hop off.  So I hopped off.  And started walking her down the hill.  She proceeded without any further fuss, except she kept taking bites of grass as we went.  Which would be fine if she could be "sneaky" about it and just snatch a bite while walking.  But of course she does a full-on stop, and my arm jerks behind me as I'm walking, and then I yank on the lead...ugh.  I pulled her in a little closer and we proceeded down the hill and to our resting spot without incident.  I took a bit of a break to pee, and led her to the water so she could drink.  She mostly ate, but I figured at least eating the wet grass on the shoreline was getting a little water into her, as opposed to the dry grass further ashore.  But she did actually drink a bit, too, so that was good.  Meanwhile, my alarm started going off because we'd stayed in one place for long enough it figured I'd fallen off.  I'd tried to move around enough to prevent that, but apparently just staying in the same general area too long does it.  I got it shut off before it worried my mom (though I'd pre-warned her about that feature and told her to call me before calling 911, in case I was fine, but just stopped, and I'd already told her we'd made it to the river, so I'm sure she wouldn't have called in the authorities quite yet).

Blurry, but unfortunately the only full-body shot I got of Arya at the river.  I'd brought my jacket just in case, but managed to do the entire ride in short sleeves.  It got a little chilly when the wind picked up, but not too bad for February!

Good girl!  Her toes are still on dry-ish land here, but she did actually get the tippy toes wet, voluntarily!

After our brief rest stop, I mounted back up (and she stood for me to get on from a rock--good girl!), left the whip holstered, knowing I wouldn't need it for the ride TOWARD home, and we set off.  She wanted to move out at a pretty good clip, but we quickly hit the long slog back up the rocky trail, and she slowed down a bit.  She tried a couple of time to trot up that hill (horses find it easier to trot, or even canter up hills, rather than slog up them at a walk), but I made her re-think that decision and walk carefully.  When we hit the flats again, it is a NICE trail, wider than typical singletrack, and with nice footing.  Arya wanted to GO, and I let her, and tried really hard not to be too controlling and rein-snatch-y.  I failed, and she tossed her head to show me her opinion on that.  I thought, briefly, about trying a canter, but there were enough tree branches at face and even just leg level that I decided I wanted to maintain a bit more control than that.  But after a few strides at "breakneck" (not really, just to me, used to trotting 4 mph or so) speeds, she settled into a much more manageable (again, to me and my panicky brain) stride we were both happy with.  Then we got to the turnoff for the trail we usually take, which goes along the side of the hill above the parking areas for Steelhead falls.  Eh, the parking lot looked empty, so I just stayed on the dirt road instead.  The first vehicle we came across was a state police pickup truck.  Not sure what he was doing there, but when I tried to wave, he had his nose buried in his computer and didn't see me.  Oh well.  He later passed us on his way back to civilization from there, so whatever.

Then we saw a tent, and Arya did a bit of a startle-stop.  Then we saw a truck that had a bright orange standing grill outside of it.  Startle-stop.  Then we saw people up ahead--a mom with three kids in tow.  She approached them a bit cautiously, but mostly willingly, and we stopped to let the kids pet her.  I think they said they actually have horses at home, but like any good horse person, it's still exciting to see one out and about, and you have to stop and pet it.  :-)  Arya and Noelle both did great with the meet and greet, then we went on our way.  By now we were at the busiest section of the parking lot, but no one was actually coming or going right then, and we moseyed on through just fine.  We got to the trail that parallels the road in a little gulley, and took that rather than the road, since it was pretty curvy and people tend to speed through there.  She was pretty good about not trying to eat.  Now that we were headed home, she was on a MISSION.  In fact, she tried busting out a trot a couple more times, but I reminded her that we were going to WALK on tricky footing.  I'd been tempted to take the same route back, even though it's slightly longer, because it would have meant most of the uphill route was on nice wide roads, and I could've asked her to trot a bit and really gotten a workout.  But she was breathing and sweating hard enough on this uphill walk, that I think it worked out just fine.  :-)

We stayed off the road as much as possible, but there were a couple times that due to lack of trail or low-hanging tree branches, we had to go onto the pavement for a bit.  One time, someone passed us going pretty fast.  We get passed on the dirt roads all the time, and even solo, Arya doesn't mind much.  (Except at night when the moving lights make for really weird shadows dancing all over!).  That proved true for this faster-moving traffic, too.  So I still wouldn't consider her totally traffic-proof, like if someone honked or a big rattling dump truck passed us or something, but it's good to know that she's safe around at least pretty normal traffic (I usually try to tip her nose toward it, too, so she can see it coming and not feel like it's sneaking up on her).

We turned onto the dirt road and finally busted out some more trotting, this time much faster than when headed away from home!  We were trotting along happily when all of a sudden, RRRrrcch! she put the brakes on.  It was the same freakin' deer.  Seriously.  Though this time, headed toward home, it took a little less encouragement to get her past it.  But wow.  You'd think they were total aliens from how she reacted, not critters she sees every day.  Seriously, barking dogs leaping at the fence get less of her attention.  A LOT less.

Speaking of which, the Great Dane was inside this time.  But we encountered a couple out walking their year-old dog.  They were keeping him VERY close, but I said that Noelle would be fine if he was, so they let him loose to go greet her, and everything was fine, including Arya.  We continued on, and were back at the shortcut near the rock wall.  Boy, Arya does NOT like that spot.  Once again, even headed toward home, she stopped dead, and tried to veer away from it.  This time I at least got her to stay NEAR it instead of walking 90 degrees away from it, but she still got off the trail a bit to give it a wide berth, and kept her eye and ear on it at all times.  I hate to think what she would've done if a big old rockchuk, or a rattlesnake, had popped out of it.  Yikes!  Levitation, probably.

We trotted a lot of the length of the last stretch of dirt road before getting back to the last singletrack, from where I planned to walk the rest of the way home (both to let her cool down a bit, and to reinforce that we don't get to rush home), slowing to a walk to let cars go by a couple times, and to give my legs (and probably hers) a break a couple times.  In the last push before the singletrack, I tried to get her to canter, but either she didn't understand the request, or she was just tired, as she didn't really even trot any faster.  Just kept plodding along at the same pace.  Oh well.

We got to where the trail turns off, and where there's a pillar of rocks acting as the corner of the fence, and once again she gave it a wide birth.  Silly girl!  Then we plodded up the hill.  Just a little past where we all spooked at the birds before, a flock of birds alit AGAIN, and we all got another startle.  Less so this time, or at least her spook unseated me less, possibly just because we were headed uphill instead of down.  But we all got our heartrates back to normal and proceeded on.

Here we are, with less than a mile left, and just a few more turns till home...

I tried to get a side shot of Arya, and was semi successful.  Yay for long arms?  You can see the new purple reins I ordered at convention, too.  (Rump rug still being made.)

And I also attempted a selfie + horse from the saddle.  Long arms help, but I have an awkward face.  Oops.  Look how focused Arya is on getting home in all these pics.  :-)

The dogs near Shar's house were silent on our way out, and silent when we first approached them on the way back, then started barking up a storm.  Arya didn't care, just kept plodding toward home.

We got home JUST as the alarm went off on the Road ID that we'd crossed over the amount of time I'd allotted for the ride (three hours).  Good to know--it apparently warns you two minutes prior, then just shuts off.  So if I was actually hurt, I'm not sure whether my mom got warned that the time limit expired or not, but then I'd have been on my own.  So I guess I just need to be extra generous with the expected time, in order for the stopped-moving alarm to work properly.

I dismounted only slightly more awkwardly than the mid-ride dismount, and hoped that meant I wouldn't be too sore after.  :-)  Poor Arya looked pret-ty tired, though.

She was quite sweaty.  It wasn't super warm out, but she's only barely started shedding (losing a few guard hairs, but not losing fur in veritable clumps like you see in a full-on shed), plus she's out of shape, plus she seems to be a sweater even when in fairly decent shape, so yeah.  VERY sweaty pony.  Not sure you can really see it here, but where it started to dry, she was white with salt.  So I figured she was going to roll one way or another, but it might be nice to at least rinse some of that salt off her first.  I untacked her, then went to the feed room and prepared a bit of mash (with plain salt and electrolytes added) to let it soak while she got a bath.  The boys knew what THOSE noises meant, and figured the mash was for them.  Sorry guys, you already had your breakfast!

Twinsies!  (Not related, and obviously different colors and sizes, but their blazes are mirror images, even include a little freckle you can't see in the pic)

No pics of the bath, as that's just asking for a wet phone, but she actually didn't mind it.  I started at her hind hoof, and she picked it up when she felt the water hit it, then it was almost like she said "you know what?  that kinda feels good!" and relaxed into it.  She hunched a bit when the cold water hit her back, but otherwise seemed to actually appreciate it.  Especially when I held the stream in front of her mouth for her to play with.  Didn't see her swallow much of it, but she sure enjoyed playing in it!  I rinsed her off all over (but not a real bath, and didn't even scrub to get the water down to skin level very well, just wanted to get the worst of the salt off, and knew she was going to grind some more dirt in very shortly).  I scraped the majority of the water off, then let her drip-dry the rest of the way while she ate.  (In endurance, you want to scrape all the water off, then keep re-applying, if you're doing it to cool the horse, but since it was cool out, and she was done for the day, I wasn't worried about that, and figured a little heat retention wouldn't hurt since it WAS cool out).  I tried to scoop a little water onto her face with my hand to get the worst of the sweat off her face, too, but as you can see from the photo, it didn't really help much.  But she was very happy to dive into the mash.  :-)

In the past, I've used Special Blend pellets, as they break down into mush really fast.  Shar only had alfalfa pellets, which apparently never break down.  Even after soaking for 10 minutes or so, then Arya digging in, they were still crunchy!  So she would do her best to get the pellets WITHOUT getting water, going so far as to slurp up a mouthful, then hold the pellets in her mouth while letting the water drain out.  Messy process!  She did eventually either ingest or drain most of the water. so I finally called it done.  Sheesh!

And video of the slurping process...

When I put her back in her pasture, I knew she was going to have an epic roll, so I got my phone all ready to take video, then somehow managed to get a snippet of video followed by a still photo, then no video again until I was encouraging her over to the water tank to drink some more.  Ugh--technology!  ;-)  Operator error, clearly.  But yeah, it was an EPIC roll, with much grunting and groaning.  She was very happy to turn that clean-ish water to mud on her coat.  :-)

I topped off the waters for all the horses, packed up my belongings and my kitty, and headed home (well, I stopped for nachos on the way).  I got home at 5-ish, and thought to myself that that allowed me a bit of time for laundry and maybe a load of dishes, too.  I started the laundry, managed to stay up long enough to put it in the dryer, then headed to bed at 7:30.  Wow.  Apparently this weekend was exhausting!  But I got to spend it with my biggest (literally) valentine, so it's all good.

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