Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Dream Horse and the trail

Lily with her fancy braid.

One thing Trail Rider told me to do was to ride Smokey. Ride him a lot. (He actually said Maybe he'll buck you off hard, run off with you spooked...that'll cure you of this crush Harsh, right? LOL)

So after working with the kids on Thursday I rode Smokey by myself on the trails by the barn. We'd done some round pen work, but this time no one was on him first. We rode for 10 minutes, just up and down the trail, at a walk, trot, and a short canter. I found it was tough to get the steering right with him, so I focused on my legs, focused on my hands.

Even when Smokey and I were not quite communicating, I never felt that old anxiety I've had when things go wrong. I was able to rate him down, bring him in.

Hmm. Strange.

We kept riding and slowly got the parts working. We ended on a good note.

That night I found myself thinking of something I read on a blog - I think it was Beth's blog, Fearless Riding - that you must trust the horse.

Trust the horse.

And that's what it's been about for me. I trust Lily - except for her canter, which is chargey and I have to work on. And that's the only place I only have trouble with her and, of course it's all linked together.

Lily: You realize I'll get this braid out of my hair in about 10 minutes.

Trust the horse.

The words of the barn owner echoed in my head - the thing about Smokey is that I trust him. He never does anything stupid.


Friday the entire family left for a trip leaving me ALONE.

ALONE!!! This never happens! I was now facing 3 days on my own.

Since it had be a perfectly horrible week in many, many ways, I was thrilled that I could indulge myself in horse time. When life's stresses are this intense it's horses where my world resets. Where perspective comes back. Where I remember that everything in this life is just temporary and you must make the most of the moments gifted to you.

It's something that can be hard to remember, until you get with a horse.

So my goal. Ride horses every day and remember to trust those horses. Give the horses the trust - which is what they give you when they let you put that bit in their mouth. Of course you have to earn that trust with them every ride...

I took Lily out that evening and we worked on trotting and transitioning. It took a while, especially since Lily has not been ridden in months because of her coffin joint. But I trust Lily. Even if she gave me one cow kick as we were going. I shrugged it off.

I trust her.

By the end of our session we were going up and down with only energy. No more cow kicks. That's when I learned that the key to Lily's collected canter is to cue softly. A big cue means we are racing barrels and we need to GO.


This morning I headed out for a big day. The plan - we were headed to the lake to ride. I'd ride Lily, Stephanie would ride Cibolo and Smokey would come with the barn owner. Then about half way we would switch and I'd ride Smokey and barn owner would ride Lily.

Lily and I had a few tough moments as she blew sideways twice, once during a trot canter transition. Her canter had been tough to sit and I was just a mess. When she went sideways I came down hard - but Lily moved back under me and we were back in business, with just a minor bruise that would come up later.

Damn, I thought. I can't ride a canter? Yesh.

Then, at the end of the trail it was time to loop back. And I'd ride Smokey. During the entire ride I saw Smokey stay quiet and handle every position on the trail.

Usually the horses are pretty fired up heading back. They know this trail. They know when they are headed back.

We started out with some trotting and cantering around the big field at the end of the trail. Now Smokey's canter, I could ride. I felt that feeling that I had on Woody, that laughter and joy bubbling up. After our second loop I started to feel how to rate Smokey, how to bring him in.

We headed out for the trail ride. It was one of those rides - like TR says, a hall of famer.

At one point a deer or 'dillo, or something stirred in the bushes. Smokey remained calm. He was remarkable.

Later near the trail end we were back to going sideways. And I figured out what I was doing wrong. Then we trotted all around the parking lot, controlled, consistent circles.

And then we all went for a swim in the lake. Lily was a little more comfortable in the water, Cibolo was hysterical, groaning and moaning with pleasure. Smokey was part submarine, sticking his entire muzzle in the water, blowing bubbles.

It was an incredible day, and incredible ride.


Tomorrow TR and I and C are off to our lesson with Dave - during a cow sorting clinic. I wasn't supposed to be in a cattle sorting clinic, but sometimes things just work out that way.


Anonymous said...

Great post - lots of good stuff going on in there!

Nuzzling Muzzles said...


Cactus Jack Splash said...

Thanks for sharing. Lots of things going well for you and things for us readers to think about.

allhorsestuff said...

This is really great reading...!
Reading about your taking the time to trust and sort and work through...taking some chances and really feeling it all out.
Horses are such a dream to get to know...and sometimes having the deadline and or the bottom line for them... just sours it.
Spending the time and letting them show you themselves- that is real.
I really like how you are giving Smokey a chance to prove or disprove himself to you.

When My sissy brought my Wa mare to me...I found out right away how she disliked the arena and intense work. But it was not until I had an arena with trails that I found out about balance of riding a fine tuned animal that cares about it all. She does, and she proved herself to me by going out alone repeatedly. She can lead anyone too(following not so good) but she is a strong, fearless leader.

I am excited for your horse days to come. Getting to know this Young horse and yourself too~


Laughing Orca Ranch said...

A Hall of Famer Ride. So happy for you!
Smokey sounds like one very special dude.


morningbrayfarm said...

You're having an awesome weekend - cool! Liking what you said about trust... I think in any relationship, without trust, there's nothin'. :)

Fragrant Liar said...

I'm so glad you have the horses when life gets really intense.

We need to have lunch at El Mercado and talk about it. :-( If only. Miss you and hope you're doing okay.


Funder said...

It took years for me to trust Dixie. I never really articulated it like you just did, though - great writing.

Full update on the cattle clinic!! Chasing cows looks like so much fun! It's on my horse bucket list for sure.

Crystal said...

Sounds like things are going better for you, and Smokey sounds like a good guy. The cattle sorting clinic and lesson sounds like fun too.

Shirley said...

You touched on a couple of important issues, trust is a big one. We are such fearful creatures, with big imaginations that can be our downfall. Live in the moment with horses and dogs, and things fall into place much better. The other one is asking softly; they are sensitive creatures who can feel the lightest touch.

Leah Fry said...

Great stuff! And horses make everything better, don't they. Well, except your wallet.

One of my wishes is to get one of my horses to a point where they will go in the water. I think that would be awesome.

Jeni said...

You stated you figured out what you were doing to cause the sideways thing... that's THE good part!

Sounds like you had a blast of a ride and some much needed alone time.

Susan said...

Shirley said it good already. Glad you had a great ride.