Sunday, August 22, 2010

Trail Ride - A new test for Smokey

H on Lola, TR on Woody

The plan was in place. Adam and I would ride at the lake, meeting Trail Rider and H. We'd meet at 10 am, Adam on Lily and me on Smokey. It would be the first time I took Smokey "off property" on my own, with out the Barn Owner (D), so I was glad he'd have Lily there too.

The kids were off for overnights at Grammie's and at a friends, so nothing could go wrong.


Of course, like all good plans thought out and carefully attuned to the needs of all involved, it began to unravel. Sunday morning Adam decided he'd like to go on a motorcycle ride to a friend's.

"That's okay," I said, "I bet Stephanie will really enjoy going."

So off I went to the barn to meet the farrier, B, who would be taking a look at my barefoot boy for the first time. B and I met and she was amazed at what great feet Smokey has - he's always been barefoot.

"Look at this! His feet are LEVEL!" (insert much farrier speak here, I just smiled) Then she said his trim was on the house because she rarely sees a horse with such terrific hooves.

And she could NOT believe he was 4 and a half. He was so easy to trim, so calm. "No way. Did you check his paper's?"

I laughed. Little does she know I practically have had an FBI (or would that be EBI - Equine Bureau of Investigations) background search completed.

So then I hear from Stephanie. No go. She has to run errands.

Hmm. Now, I'm going to go by myself.

Trail Rider calls. He is on his way, and I realize the time. Luckily he's got a much longer drive. I hook up the trailer and pull around. I load my gear. I try to talk D into going, but she just woke up and isn't really ready.

I'm sure everything will be just fine.

I load Smokey in the trailer after a brief moment of resistance. I take a deep breath. We are off.

On our own.

We arrive at the parking lot at the trail head, but there's no sign of Trail Rider, although there is another trailer there. I unload Smokey and bring him around to the side of the trailer. His head is high, and he's looking around.

Then he starts calling out. Obviously there are horses here! Where are they! He calls, prancing on his line.

I flash back to Conception. When Cibolo, the previously calm horse, turned into a complete whirling derbish, melting down into a mass of crazed, sweaty, "I'm not listening to you" equine nut job. I spent 12 of 14 miles sitting in a truck, hauling the horse I couldn't ride.

Not again. Please. Not again.

Trail Rider calls. My horse is calling on his own horsey cell phone of sorts in the background. TR had taken a wrong turn, after hanging up once to try to quiet Smokey, I call TR back with directions and he is on his way.

I start line lunging Smokey. Slowly I start to get him back, but he still calls to horses I can't see. I back him 5, 10, 15 steps. I work on leading him. He's cueing in to me a bit, but it's still bad. He is still high headed. I line lunge him again, harder. I pull his focus to me again and again. Each time I keep it a bit longer. But he's still high headed, still over reactive. But it's better.

Trail Rider pulls up in his rig.

"I'm not saying anything," he says, watching me with my still stressed out horse. The unspoken "I was afraid of this" hangs in the air like a noose.

Smokey really begins to settle down now that other horses are being unloaded. I saddle him up without a problem, he stands perfectly still, just like always.

I close my eyes and visualize the ride I want us to have. What happened doesn't have to dictate the future. The past doesn't have to dictate my travel with this horse.

I visualize the ride I want. Calm, confident, a good team with me as a leader. Trotting. Cantering. Crashing through brush, not worried. I open my eyes and stroke the face of my horse, my sweet Morgan, his new bridle looking beautiful in the bright summer sun.

I gather the reins, moving to his side, and I put my foot in the stirrup. It's time to ride.

(Nice place for a cliff hanger, right?)


Jeni said...

geeze !!! I can't wait for the rest of the story!

Anonymous said...

Bad history will get you every time if you let it - but that's the past, not now. Being here, now, gets the job done - but of course you have to know what to do, and I think you do. Can't wait to hear the next installment.

Trailrider said...

Smokey did great. I'm going to remain curious as to how he'll react when he doesn't have the security of other horses to ride with when he's in a stressful environment. He was VERY high headed and stressed out when I first pulled up, but I was impressed with how quickly he calmed down when he saw he was being joined by other horses.

The ride today, and getting to know Lola and Woody, will be an asset to Smokey come Concepcion Trail Ride time.

Ms Martyr said...

Now cut that out!

Carol said...

Hope it went well. My 5 year old acted similar at his first show, but it passed in about 5 or 10 minutes and he was a dream the rest of the time. Hope you had the same experience.

jane augenstein said...

I hope you had a good ride! I often wonder how Gilly will do on a ride with other horses and in strange places. We have yet to find out. Can't wait to here abut the rest of the story! :-)

Cactus Jack Splash said...

Oh, I need the next installment now.
Maybe he was picking up a bit on your nerves...the past can be hard to leave behind.

Susan said...

I'll bet he did just fine.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Not Fair!

But I'm guessing that the only reason you're giving us all a cliff hanger is because the story has a happy ending...and you just want to make us all sweat a little bit before you tell us how awesome and amazing your Morgan boy was for you :)


Paint Girl said...

I am sure Smokey was fine. It is always scary when they act up like that and being in a new area by himself was probably a little scary to him (and to you!)
But I have a feeling that the ride went well, and I can't wait to hear all about it!

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

My horses still get too excited in the parking lot when we first arrive at a trail, even though they've been there plenty of times. It seems I spend more time trying to calm them down than I do riding in some cases. I hope your ride happened as you visualized it.

Grey Horse Matters said...

I'm sure by thinking good thoughts and letting the past be the past you and Smokey had a terrific ride. Nice cliff hanger...thanks!