Monday, May 2, 2011

Solo Trail Ride

Sunday's weather was clear and bright, with the high reaching in the upper 60's. With the Ladies BR off to shop for wedding dresses and attend showers and such, yours truly declared it to be a fine day for a trail ride, and to try something I've been wanting to do for some time. I was going to ride alone. I know I've ridden Smokey along the river levee alone, but riding within a mile or two of home doesn't really count in my book. I'm talking pack the horse and tack in the trailer, drive somewhere, and ride.

Mrs. BR suggested that I should take our Paint gelding, Dozer. I though, "why not", and loaded the young man up.

Dozer is DN2's horse. She bought him him when he was four. He's nine now, and has spent the last two years leased out to a girl who has used him for 4H, but she is done riding, so he's headed back to our care. He has spent the better part of the time being ridden in the arena only, and has become a bit punchy. Dozer is a tad skittish, goofy about his off side, and has run off once or twice while his rider was dismounting. At the 4H show on Saturday he did his level best to unseat three different riders. What could possibly go wrong on a leisurely trail ride?

Dozer needs a confident rider. Horses are very sensitive to their riders mood, particularly if nervousness, trepidation, or fear enter the equation. You are the leader when riding, and if you're scared, most horses will sense that there is something to be afraid of, and will make heroic effort to "get the heck out of here". As the horse becomes more skittish, the nervous rider gets scared, which in turns scares the horse more, which causes the riding to become seriously frightened...wash, rinse, repeat. Possible recipe for a bad ending.

We went to Mill Pond, a series of equestrian trails on Weyerhaeuser land off Hwy 410. After saddling up, I looked him in they eye and in no uncertain terms informed him that it was a nice day, and we were going to have a good ride. That, or he would go to France in a box. And off we went...for three uneventful hours.

He was uncertain, but he paid attention. He stopped on occasion, requiring some added encouragement (read: spurs) to get going again. If we encountered other groups of riders, he became certain that we needed to follow them, and would get a little loose in the steering until I applied proper motivation (read: spurs) to get him pointed in the desired direction of travel. Beyond that, nary a problem. A very enjoyable ride, and, I think, good for his mind.

It was interesting to contrast the differences between Smokey and Dozer on the trail. At 22, Smokey is very trail wise, and follows the path with little to no rider direction. I'm reasonably certain I could take a nap in the saddle and still find myself on the same trail upon waking. Dozer, on the other hand, would occasionally lose sight of the trail and head off into the trees. Dozer has a quicker walking pace, which I rather enjoyed. Smokey can be a bit of a slow poke, which can be infuriating at times.

I know that one ride is only a data point, but Dozer just may have a future in the mountains.

10 comments:

Love and Life said...

Sounds like you are having a good time getting back into the saddle (now that the weather is getting warmer.) I'm glad you didn't give your blog up. It's ok to take time off for however long you feel like, even if it's for a year or two. There are times where I don't feel like bothering with it either but eventually I get interested in it again. I'd hate to see you ever give it up for good. Here's to more happy riding stories in the future! :)

Mary said...

I am so glad you didn't "moth ball" just yet, I recently came across your blog and now I'm a fan! I truly enjoy your stories, don't give it up yet.

Michael said...

Great read. Horses I know little about. Animal behavior, now that I can relate too. I see that in some ways, Dozer needed a steady hand, and firm direction, so that he could relax enough to be more himself. That is how it is with my boxer, Myrtle. When we got her, she was still a puppy that had been penned with an adult Chow for nearly a year. I don't have to tell you what a mess she was. I still have to be Alpha dog for her and being a bulldog, she tries me at times. Thanks for a story I can relate to, animals are great, but they have to have time invested in them, or things can be pretty miserable for both the animal and the human. Keep up the writing!

Bag Blog said...

I'm glad your story turned out well. I thought you might tell of a horse wreck on the trail. I had a crazy paint horse years ago that was lots of fun to ride, but she was a herd animal for sure. Trail hazzards did not bother her, but if she were out of sight of other horses, she lost all confidence and would panic.

Deb said...

A very enjoyable ride, and, I think, good for his mind. When I was riding horses for other people, I found that getting them out of the arena on a regular basis was THE best thing for their minds.

Rude1 said...

As Napoleon Dynamite would say...
"luckyyyyy". I woke up to 7 inches of snow Sunday am and it kept snowing all damn day. No rides for me!

Buck said...

That, or he would go to France in a box.

Heh. One wonders how many of your readers get the implication there. Mom had a firm and fast rule for our housekeeper when my father was stationed in Paris... do NOT shop at the boucheries chevalines!

Deb said...

Buck, anyone that's a horse person knows EXACTLY what BR was referring to. (unfortunately some of them would be better in a can than they would be anywhere else)

Jessica said...

"France in a box.." ha!! I may have to steal that to use with Bar. :)

Good for you and, yes, really good for him!!

And rescued from wedding planning? What a plus!

Kipp said...

Nothing like getting away while the ladies are shopping - "a free pass".

When you mentioned Dozer being a mountain horse it made me think of the movie The Man from Snowy River.