Sunday, March 27, 2011

Adventures in Trailering and Circles at the Canter

I took Friday off from work, and decided to devote the afternoon and evening to horse related activities. I texted Trail Rider and he was able to get the day off as well.

I nearly imploded from excitement.

Instead, both my trailer tires imploded on the way over.

But wait, I wasn't supposed to tell you that yet. I was supposed to build up the suspense, yada yada.

The plan was to meet at my old barn, which is open again and filled with horses. There's even a waiting list. I love riding there, the arena is fabulous and I enjoy Sharon so much. So I was looking forward to getting there. There was a possibility that DH would be joining us, so I loaded Lily as well as Smokey.

She hasn't been sound at the trot, but I decided to try using a pain med a vet had given me to use before work. Given that I am running out of options (she is still on adequan, it seemed worth trying - I'd been resistant because I don't want to merely mask the problem. But my ability to get this diagnosed AGAIN is... well, let's just say I'm focusing on keeping the hay flowing right now.

Still time off is not working. She's crabby mare, which is who she was when we first got her. Lily needs to be involved, engaged, doing something.

We were about halfway there when a guy in a white pick up pulled up beside me at a light.

"You've blown a tire," he said.

I checked the mirror, but couldn't really see the tire. I pulled over once I was past the light and hopped out there it was. Shredded.

Thank god I had a double axle trailer. I looked at the spare. It didn't look much better.

"Do you have a jack?" the guy had pulled over behind me. This is what I like about Texas. I know how to change a tire, but have only had to do so twice in my life because a guy always stops and helps.

I do, but it's complicated. See, I can't open the tail gate in DH's truck because the handle is broken. DH opens it no problem but my little thin fingers are lousy levers. Lucky this guy, Tony, was gifted with big fingers as well.

I called Trail rider and DH (who was riding his iron horse - the harley) and gave them an update. Needless to say, I was going to be late.

We got the tire on. Oddly, Tony admonished me for pulling over and not checking the tire from inside the truck (I couldn't see it from there). "I could have been a bad guy" said Tony, concerned. I pointed out that I immediately got on my cell phone and we were on a busy enough road in broad daylight. And I had to see what was happening. Then he confessed that he has a young daughter and always worries about these things.

"Don't go far, that spare has dry rot," he said as he drove off.

I just had ten miles to go. And I was too far from my home barn now. I put it in drive and headed off.

And made it about five miles before the spare blew.

I made my calls and said I'd be limping in, but at this point I was going to try to get there. Let me tell you, a shredded tire kicks up an enormous amount of dust, even at 10 miles an hour.

I got there forty five minutes behind schedule, but determined. Determined to ride like crazy. You don't come in on three tires and sit on your bumper, mourning your lost treads!

I saddled both horses and tied Lily (she eventually had to be moved to a patience tree, since she decided to paw). Smokey and I rode with Trail Rider, warming up. Then TR put me through some paces.

What I wanted to accomplish was canter circles. Since steering remains such an issue - at the canter, I think we're solid at the trot - it's the area I need the most practice. A few weeks ago I asked the trainer/barn owner to ride Smokey so I could see what I was doing wrong.

I saw it immediately. I had too much play in the reins. With me, Smokey was at a loss on where to hold his head. I would pull them in, play them out, but with she kept the reins a more consistent length and much shorter than I do. Even at the canter. And she worked on catching the problem at the turn much earlier. That's what I needed to do. Anticipate and compensate.

TR demonstrated perfect canter circles on Woody and we attempted to follow. The trot was lovely, I had to work a bit on collection, because being in a new place Smokey was definitely "up" in head as well as in spirit. After far more trot circles than should be needed, I'd get him into the canter, which he started by throwing his head fairly high. Almost like a kick start. Once going he has a rocking horse canter, but he gets into swinging his head around oddly. It was ugly looking, but really, what do I expect? We've only done this a few times. And now we were doing it - a lot. He was getting annoyed at one point, but I kept my cool and we worked through the crow hop, cow kick and a buck threat.

I wish I could say by the end we were doing great. But we weren't. We were mediocre. Even that is probably a stretch. But it was a vast improvement from where we started.

I keep reminding myself this is where we used to be at the TROT. I am making progress. When DH arrived he elected to take care of the tire issue instead of ride. I knew he felt bad that I had a hard time, since he sees trailer maintenance as his job. But honestly with the six months we have had, it's a wonder we're both still walking. So he brought back two tires as we finished up but encourage me to hit the road. Given the time, Lily ended up not getting ridden, but it was okay. Sometimes you have to go through the motions. The plan was now that Lily and Smokey would have a slumber party at TR's place. I'd move them back home in the morning.

Because I wasn't done with horse time. No sir. We had another horse activity planned.

Ranch Sorting.

Of course before we left we had a bit of drama, things I've forgotten how much fun they are to deal with. Like watching someone try to catch their horse, then reacting with horror when seeing them inexplicably walking into an entire herd of horses with a bucket of grain.

But you'll have to wait for Part 2. Cuz this cowgirl is sackin' out for the night!


Allenspark Lodge said...

OH MY GOODNESS! Two bits of "foreshadowing" in one blog!

Wake up! I can't wait! ;)


Tammy Vasa said...

I just had my mare at a trainer & we are working on loping circles and straightness. She is doing so much better than I am!

Sorry about the tires. I replaced 2 last fall & will get the other 2 this spring. Someone told me recently that on trailers you don't look at the tread, but at the age. Usually they will age out before they wear out. I thought that was an interesting comment....

BrownEyed Cowgirl said...

Oh man...when the trailer tires go. fun.

I'm thrilled to hear you kept working at it at the lope. So many people get frustrated right off the bat and quit. Things don't come together and get beautiful on their own. It takes practice and perseverance. Hang in WILL come.

Anonymous said...

I hate trailering. Glad you made it there safely. Do you have one of those roll-on roll-off things that make changing a trailer tire much easier? If you'll be trailering any long distances, you might want to sign up for U.S. Rider - it's not expensive and they provide roadside assistance for trucks and trailers and will even take your horses to a safe place if your truck dies.

The circle work will come - small steps at a time.

shadowlake2005 said...

I'm not good with suspense! Had a job that included feeding a 2yo & his yearling brother in their field. My getting the (already) 16hh 2yo's shod hoof in the face changed that farm policy. Just a baby, stuff happens kind of thing, walking to the feeder, escorted politely by the 2yo, until he decided his bro was drifting in too close, & decided to chase him away. Being a baby, he kicked out, too, & caught me a good one-- right out of my shoes & contact lens! Feeding procedure was changed, & that was w/only 2 horses in the field, who knew the drill.

Dan and Betty said...

I'm surprised you weren't later than you were given two blown tires. Keep up the good work. You'll get there. Smokey is still young and will settle down more as he learns and grows.


Rising Rainbow said...

Oh Geez, sounds like my trip to Tulsa with those tires, although my spare was not one that blew. Fortunately, I got help changing both of mine and then had to stop and redo all my tires because I had been sold out of date tires. Not good.

Glad you arrived safely and got help getting tires replaced.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

It must have been quite a ride for the horses with those tires giving out. I've heard so many stories about spares not even getting people to the shop before going flat that I almost wonder if it is worth it to carry a spare. I remember when I had to return a rental car with a flat, and called a shop, expecting them to bring a new tire and change it in my driveway, but instead they just pumped the flat up with air and told me to drive it to the shop where I had to wait in line for several hours. They actually let people who came in after me go ahead of me despite me telling them I had to return the rental by such-and-such a time or I would have to pay for another day. It was bad enough that I was paying for a new tire on a car that wasn't even mine. They didn't care. We got to the rental place late and my husband threw his weight around until they agreed that us paying to replace the flat was good enough and they wouldn't charge us for another day. When they gave me that car, the tire was flat, but right when I was going to point it out to them, they distracted me and I forgot. I drove off on three tires. You don't really feel it unless another driver points it out, which is what happened in my case. Then I slapped my forehead and said, "Damn! I saw that! I knew it was flat and forgot about it."

Jan said...

Breathe, sorry about the tires and the inconvenience of all that. It sounds like you did make progress with Smokey at the canter. It does take time apparently, so I hope you feel good about your work. Even if you are just a tiny bit better at the end than at the beginning, that is progress! That's my goal, anyway. And I can't wait to read part 2- what suspense you've created!

Fragrant Liar said...

You had quite the exciting and trying day off! :-)

Achieve1dream said...

Evil cliffhangers! I'm glad the tire situation wasn't more serious and no one was hurt. Tony sounds awesome. That's one thing I miss since moving to the stupid city. No one helps each other out. Can't wait to read part two.

Tammy in TX said...

Thank goodness you made it to your destination with no serious damage!

Morning Bray Farm said...

What an eventful journey. Wish I could come up with a funny poem about shredded tires to make you laugh. :D

Looking forward to Part 2!