Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Solo Confidence

Getting out and about solo is how us two, horse and human, started to get to know each other well.

                                                      Hardy Creek -Oregon-Solo ride May 2012

When Wa mare first came to me I developed a trail code for us to travel by. I started by taking her out on foot. I would lead and she would follow, and sometimes way to closely. I pack a plastic bag now for those times when she is concerned with her rear...I put it upon my crop and hold it behind my back with her lead. Fortunately, not having to do that often, she follows me nicely most times and also leads . I taught her to step over, just one step at a time for trickier areas and for her also to step closer for me to mount from a mound of dirt, ledge or stump.
When we have far too a steep hill, my mare takes the lead as I prompt her to, me trailing by her tail behind on the ground.
I L*O*V*E this technique. It has served us well in some of the mountain goat trails we've used! Likewise, when we have a totally too steep trail to go down, I hold onto the side of the saddle, by stirrup leather or bareback pad and we go down together.
This has built our confidence up with each other. I can always count on my mare now in a pinch.

The other thing that has me trusting her more and likewise, is tying her to trees while I trail blaze. She does not care for it when I go out of visual range, but she is getting better. This tree tying sure came in handy last year, when an emergency occurred when my riding bud got thrown. I had to count on her calm steadfastness. I always ride with a rope or rope reins,  a ring on my nose band or a halter in place of nose band. I can not tell you how many times I have needed to lead or tie my mare, while out on trail adventures.

                                                         Hardy Creek-Oregon- solo ride May 2012

This past weekend I decided to trail out-solo- to one of my favorite places to ride. Hardy Creek in the Molalla River Corridor, nearby. It takes less than 30 minutes to get there so even though my mare dislikes solo trailering for long hauls, this trip is okay.
My trailering confidence was taught to me by so many people, in my brief 5 years of horse ownership. Firstly by Gemma, my freind that got me to get back to the JOY of riding horses. We rode and trailered and rode and trailered everywhere! Though  I never drove her rig then, I watched her do it with ease.
My sister also taught me so much...though I was not interested in using a manual truck, so I refused back then to try.

Then, at my second stable, there was a gal that owned Frisians. She was so good to help me learn the ropes with her Ford 150 and 2 horse trailer. Literally, she had me drive her trailer around(horseless) and back it up and go get gas, park the rig over and over- till I got it right and was confident.  I knew where the thing was on the road and how to maneuver it all, soon enough. She then set me to trailering myself solo.
Those were the days of upset stomach and lack of sleep! I was pretty nervous for the first times. But, my mare grew in confidence of me asking her to get on the trailer, as all the experiences became the same...nice slow starts, turns, stops and all the while, I would talk to her each time we stopped...she'd nicker sometimes, though nervous herself, she checked in with me too.

                                            After Ride Hardy Creek-  May 2012

Then, when my sissy moved her mare Pantz up to Portland area, due to her small barn closing and no where else to go to at the coast. She  brought her mare and left her rig for us to use for a year or so. 6 speed Diesel truck and a 3 horse trailer. THAT was the ultimate in testing/training me to drive a rig! I got it down and still think, that a 3 horse is easier to maneuver than a 2! Go figure!

Now, this 3rd trailer trip out this Spring was a great day....though I saw an old riding bud at McIver State Park days before, and thought to call several friends to go riding...SOLO just sounded heavenly.
Arriving at my stable, it was quiet so I allowed my mare to munch grasses for my hook up time.  I got our snacks and after ride wash gear ready..I like to give the mare a sponge "Brace" bath after a warmer, or longer days ride.

NO ONE was at the parking lot, but bicyclists! Cool...the entire trail system to ourselves! They have these great signage boards up along the trails...making sure all know the rules of the roads and trails. Everyone YIELDS to the horse.
And it has in writing and pictures- who is allowed on the trails. PEOPLE, Bicycles, Horses. NO motorized is mentioned...but it is said, " These travelers are allowed only- to keep from unwanted trail complications ". !! HA!!
Yup..motors just complicate everything!

I have read that other avid trail riders sometimes have issue with sourness, sometimes when they only ride a certain trail. I have had that where I am now, sometimes. even if I trail out to the same trail, my mare will seemingly get bored with its hills and dales.
So this day, I decided to try some of the "single track" trails that are normally closed if muddy. It definitively was NOT muddy- but perfectly wonderful footing!!! In fact, if it weren't for the first quarter mile up to the wooded trails on large base rock, the mare would have enjoyed being barefoot.

She was so happy to be somewhere else...she strutted on up the rocky hill!!

We all need a change of pace and our horses are no different...mine's attitude told me that she was enjoying the new scene!
Look at this footing!

I thought of Lytha in Germany...she's coming to the States again soon and I REALLY want her to come riding here with me. This is your OFFICIAL INVITE Lytha...Come trot the woods of Oregon with us!

This trail I used for 7 miles was the "Rim trail". The trails are well marked and maintained.

We travelled the "Rim Trail" till we got to "Bear Woods loop". We took that, then on back to one called "Rim Tie trail". I did not have the map so I was counting on what the 'Tie" sounded like..Yep, it got us back to the Rim .
 After we had some long trot sessions and some cantering on the Rim trail that was so long and straight, we settled into an on the "Wither" ride. I have no buckle with the rope reins, so I make a loop from the last 5 inches ( so I may collect them easily and quick) and set my hand on her withers. She usually snorts with delight!

We had a down time for munch, on the way back. me having a "Mojo" bar and tea. The mare having her usual favorite.

One thing I have always done here at Hardy Creek, is join the mare with the coming back- unwind walk....

What an awesome and refreshing solo ride out for spring!

I am looking forward to more of the local faire for riding this season. There is such a downturn in our fiances, not much else can be had for trips. PLUS- my poor sister HAS TO MOVE Pantz again. This is the third time in 3 years, due to the barn she is in -moving and therefor-closing! 
Man...if she had just taken our stable owners invite 2 years ago when I moved...she would have been sitting pretty content, like me! I really L*O*V*E my stable.

So wish  to us , pray for us, and hope that we may find something in less than 60 days.
We Have to!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Made in the Shade

Happy horses, Washashe and Theo in hock high grasses.

We FINALLY got some warmer temps and sunshiny days! This is our second week of 80's and while it takes some assimilating- no problem, I get into it by riding   in the shade! 

A year ago in May, I was happily arranging a Jump trail  on the lands below the stable. We had pass through access to ride them, to the next private lands over.

NOW-A year later... this is the desolation! There is Nothing left of the entire forest down below our stables. It is truly sad. The forests are completely gone. I snuck down to just look...and this is the sight.

I about cried...
The entire forest is down, and we have no more access to ride the 1/2 mile road through to the wonderful Oregon Fishing Club lands- till....?

It leaves us with the nice, but very MUDDY entrance,  to trails and roads across the street. I have to hoof boot up for these, as the service roads are all graveled and my mare is a tenderfoot. 

I am so mad....I have now lost 2 boots in two days! One of them my $$$expensive Renegades! Only one Ruby slipper left!
I looked and looked for them- days in a row-and almost lost my tall boots to the SUCKING BOG of parts of the trails.

These are adventures with valuable lessons involved. Ones that require trust, patience and calm. Not for me- but for my mare!!
I am so sure that the times of trail blazing ,or boot hunting in this case, are the times Wa mare is sure I've lost my mind or have chosen to sacrifice her- to the wild things that lurk about in the forests!! I had walked further away than I realized, as I hunted for the Renegade boot. I was walking back and wondered IF- I had lost my horse too!? Nope, as I said her name rounding a corner, she belted out a hefty NICKER...SAVE ME KK GIRL! 
It was endearing, and she again was left with a memory to trust me..I always come back for her.

One neat occurrence  happened while I was out on foot looking for hoofboots...I found another trail, that maybe can be made to join up with the roads..and there Is no mud! It is pristine and shady.

So untill I find some helper(s) to clear a way to the main system over from this new trail, I took one last ride near the ponds...knowing, it will be some time till the mare and me can have them to serenely ride around. They also need a new way of getting to them.

Made in the shade are these rides, in memory...and blessed we are to have them!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Good day sunshine!

Just look at her! My sissy with an Ear to Ear, after a 5 month delay for any activity, aside from P.T. .
 Pantz was pretty happy as well, this SUNSHINE day of getting out finally-and riding! 

 The banner day of riding back to health...after ACL replacement surgery. My sister got the A-Okay the day before- from the Dr.- to start riding her horse again. I wasted NO-TIME upon hearing that news to say, " I'm picking you up tomorrow, and we are going riding!"

I  hooked up the trailer, only for the second time this spring. It's been nice for like a week!! A whole week of sun, and it feels sooo good! 
I went earlier in the week also, solo with the mare. She was excellent too, getting right on the trailer after 5 months of staying put. I love my mare!!!

Though hot, we had the luxury of a shady forest ride, in Milo McIver State Park.

The mare was happy and calm on our solo day at the park. The heat is a relaxing sedative for her.

The park was full earlier in the week with folks that had been itching to get out on trails that were NOT muddy. McIver's trails are wonderfully kept up by our local chapter of "Oregon Equestrian Trailriders".
BUT...that said,  the 15 or so trailers in the parking lot, seen here from us up in the woods, I saw but 2 horses from afar, on the 9 mile ride I took.

Similarly, my sister and I had the Park to ourselves practically.

We were loving the cool sunshine and the mares loved the reunion. 

We took it very easy on my sister and Pantz for this first ride back to health. We walked the 9 miles of shady bliss in the woods. I decided to use my Tristan Stuuben dressage saddle. I pounded the point of width area of flocking, to an inch of its life...adding an inch and a half of shoulder room for my mare. It worked perfectly! And my wither palate is a clean slate again...after 8 months of healing massage and "Calm Coat"oil applications. Wa's withers that had been injured by the ill fitting ANSUR KONKLUSION saddle, with massive white hairs from pressure. All better! No More White hairs!

She and I had a lovely ride saddled. I loved being able to go into "two point" and "half seat" for walking the hills.

I had packed a home made lunch for our return... the mares and my sissy waited in the shady area.

The mares too, enjoyed a bite together!

How refreshed we all were to finally be together again riding!

I have much more to share, but wanted to share ALL GOOD NEWS this time!!


Friday, May 4, 2012

One Ride at a Time

In the fashion of " Calm, Forward, Straight" blog I thought, as I tried to get my horse's head, and mine, in frame by only an arm's length away! C has a wonderful training blog, if you've never met her and her TB horse Val...take time to go see her today!
I think her arms are much longer than mine!

It was NOT sunny the day I found my Sunglasses on the trail...but I was so happy to retrieve them from the dirty resting spot I had lost them a year ago, I documented by attempting a self photo.

We have had much rain for the past weeks and a few riding days. YES, I have been riding, rain and shine...but not too much may be accomplished in the slick, but a soothing horseback outing.

That is what I have been seeking too : a soothing, calming ride on the mare. She has complied nicely with no falls, or spills or spooks. THOUGH-I did apply "Vicks" to her nostrils twice, in the past weeks. One week she KNEW there was a creature lurking about, behind the shrubbery, yet could not see it. The Masking scent of the Menthol, made the ride much calmer all around, as she had to wait to freak out " IF" she saw the danger..and no danger appeared for her, just as I thought.

Many things are going on here in our household...I've been stressed, almost to the max. So, I have not sought to train or to accomplish, just to soothe my mind upon my mare, as we stroll along in the wooded delights.
My man has had 2 health scares, with 2 ER visits and one Ambulance ride, in the past 3 weeks. His heart the first time, and 3 days ago, he blacked out at 2:30 am..hitting the deck in the house. It was so loud, it effectively woke me up -got me out of bed to find him in a heap, on the floor. OH! That was a terrible sight and flash of thoughts all of at once! I called 911 so fast...even before I checked his breathing. 
We live 2 blocks away from the local Fire house so they were there within 2 minutes.(Almost faster than I could get off the phone and get dressed!)
I've never had so many men in the house as that morning...Ambulance, fire and all of them, right in the parlor!

None of the EKG's, or monitoring of both events were conclusive for heart knowledge for us to pursue any treatments. Though, it has my man going to the Dr. and also the cardiologist. Plus it has him taking better care of himself.

Also, our old man of a kitty Norm Thompson, became so weak and frail as he had stopped eating, had to be taken to the vet's for his last hour with us. It was a rough week and my man's boy was so good as to never miss the cat box. Norm even sought my man out, even when he could barely stand up...he layed in my man's lap, right before we took him in.

We sure loved that skinny cat with the silky long hair, even if it were only for 3 months. He loved us and we loved him! I got to hold him one last time... my man called me as I was at the stable, so I rushed home from riding the mare to see him.

Just weeks before, I was leaving the house to go to work or someplace. The  cat threesome usually wait in the window to see me arrive home, when they hear my truck's engine. But this day, I looked back as I closed the gate to see all of them, watching me leave! Glory in the window sill ledge, Norm on the table, and Martina in the back on the couch! I still have this as my wallpaper on my cell.

There is more rough stuff going on, but that will remain unwritten here...too much of a downer. I would like to share some horsey rides with you all though... just some, as we have still had much torrential weather and only some were to be had.

The most fun we've had in a long while was the day in the 80's..and sun shining bliss abounded everywhere!!  it was after we lost Norm but before the last ER visit. Funny thing was, out of the 2 weekend sunny rides...I saw NO ONE was amazingly quiet, and JUST WHAT I NEEDED after all I'd been going through. The mare was ready too. We are taking it ONE RIDE AT A TIME for our minds health, these days!
 The private land below us is being logged. We are officially kicked off of using it. It has about 1 mile of road we must ride to get to the main trails we ride all winter. They stay nice and are not muddy. That private land also had the OREGON TRAIL JUMP COURSE I made on it too...I surely will miss that!
 So, for now it is hoofin' it across the street to the logging roads. Some trails, but MUCH MUD! Hoof boots are required for riding there for us. Blessing is...we still can ride outdoors somewhere, right from the stable!

I booted up, the mare and me both. I have to walk the muddy areas, as hoof boots are rather slick and it's just safer for us to do it with me on the ground, for the short stint to the roads. We were off like a shot once we hit those roads...cantering bliss..and no matter what road I faced myself towards with intent, the mare willingly set to it. We had so much fun!
Here we stopped half way out for grass munch and lunch for me.

As you see, the trace clip is nearly all shed out, and the mare is in fine shape. I have been giving her a Gamma treat, twice a week, for muscle development. 
We rode till there were no more places to go out there..about 12 miles. No lingering thoughts of any toils remained. 
This one ride made us both smile( I think)...we ripped it up, on a certain sandier stretch of straight roads. The mare came back down to a nice trot with her 'High blowing" happy self. Just gotta stretch those legs like that sometimes!

So that's it for now...some training news to share and other stuff about my sis and Pantz mare, next time.
Until then, It's one ride at a time~ for health.
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