January 23, 2011

Back to the Trail

Today I decided I would see how responsive Willy was being and if it turned out well I would take him for a short "trail ride" in our favorite little neighborhood.  When I arrived Lorraine was cleaning out the paddock of her beautiful Friesians Willow and Gracie.  She said hello as I was grooming Willy in the wash rack area. 

His mane wasn't covered in hay today so the grooming was a quick chore at least!  While I was grooming him the cute little tabby cat came over to say hello.  He wove in an out of the horse's legs making sure to rub up against each one.  As I wrapped Willy's legs in the polo wrap the cat wiggled in between my legs, nudging my bottom.  A little friendly isn't he?!  I shoed him away from my deriair and then he proceeded to nuzzle the wraps as I was trying to get them around Willy's legs.  I had to laugh as I pushed him out of the way and secured the last Velcro strap.  Then I put on Willy's saddle and bridle, walked him a bit and tightened the girth a couple times.

I led Willy over to a fence so I could have him stand facing it while I mounted in hopes that would prevent his walking while I was mounting.  I often wonder if his former owner as an endurance horse trained him to keep moving while they mounted to save time during the race?  I don't care about that amount of time, any horse of mine will be trained to stand steady, even while I'm wiggly and getting comfortable in the seat.  Only when I ask them to move on will I allow them to.  I mounted up on Willy, instead of moving forwards he swung to the left a bit.  I said whoa many times as he tried to take a few steps while I got situated.  Then I had him stand for a few moments before asking him distinctly to move forwards.

I rode around the big ring, did a little bit of trotting and then headed out to the road.  Willy was a little hesitant to go down the driveway and tried to turn around a few times.  It was weird!  Once we got on the road he was fine, I just started talking to him about random things, perhaps by talking I calmed myself a little and hence calmed him.  He took a look at some fabric on the ground that made him nervous but he eventually realized it wasn't going to eat him so he moved on.

We stayed at a walk and just calmly walked past horses and cows in paddocks.  A chocolate lab came running out of yard and then under a fence and right at Willy.  I kept talking to him but he didn't seem fazed at all.  The dog was running behind him and barking up a storm but Willy just plodded on, his ears pricked forwards and occasionally looking at the dog directly.  I want my future horse to be this good around strange crazy dogs!  That's something that will have to be worked on of course by taking a horse to a location where there are lots of dogs on the trails and desensitizing them to it.  Santa Fe trail would be a great location since there are bikers, walker/joggers and dogs all the time on that trail.  Willy and I moved up to Eggar Court and passed the group of boxers on the corner...they didn't bark but up at the top of the culdesac the black dog was making a ruckus and upsetting me more than Willy. 

When we headed back to the stable I was hoping to get a picture of the cute donkey but he was too far out in the field.  His little horse friends weren't in the field, just cows and llamas.  I continued to just chatter to Willy about the scenery etc.  I'd read in a magazine that this one woman started doing that with her young horse as she rode and it really helped her out.  Might be a good idea to remember especially if I end up buying a younger horse.

After getting back to the stable I untacked Willy and groomed him down.  The weather had started getting more chilly as the day had progressed so I was ready to get back home to a warm shower.  The same little tabby cat was back hanging out with Willy and I.  He found a nice resting spot on my saddle!  I returned Willy to his paddock with Two Socks and Misty, fetched a wheel barrow and proceeded to muck the area.  It was definitely nicer than it had been.  No one had arrived yet to muck any of the paddocks so I figured I'd get it done.  The inside of the shelter needs some fill since there is a big dip in the middle that is pooled with mud, urine and rotting old hay.  I could have dug a hole 2 feet deep but just cleaned up the manure.  If it was my facility I would do a lot of things differently since there's a big problem if urine just stays in puddles all the time.  The drainage needs to be corrected.  Oh well, two wheel barrows later and I came back with carrots for Willy and the crew...to include the minis.  Then I headed home.  I love my Sunday rides!

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