Thursday, October 6, 2011

Storm Ranch Endurance Ride - one woman's perspective

As you may have surmised from Smokey's post, he was not my ride at the endurance race. He was just at the ride to gain experience traveling to such events. I didn't intend to ride him there, although I thought I might be able to around camp. I hand walked him around and was quickly convinced that riding him around this first time wasn't an option. He needs more travel time. And I need more experience getting him to stay focused.

I apologize for the photos, they are all out of my iphone. One of these days I'm going to get back to taking real photos!

Happy, happy horse.

We three - me, Smokey, and Lily - arrived on Saturday. Most of the 25 mile competitors were out, but due back soon. The 50s wouldn't be back for hours. Both horses loaded so well, I was taken aback. In fact, Lily right from the start seemed to be happy to be going somewhere. She self loaded and moved to the side for the door to close behind her.

I tied them to the trailer, Lily perky but constrained, Smokey a bit up, but not too bad considering. The BO's new trailer, the Taj Mah Haul, was in place. I'd be bunking there.

Jake (who had been at our barn for conditioning),
did great at his race, coming in 11th
The Taj is in the

One rider, J, was going to leave, but asked if I'd like to take a quick trail ride. Fortunately there was plenty opportunity to pleasure ride at this endurance ride, something I never thought of. I always thought that at a ride like this the most you could do is ride in the endurance rides or just hack around camp. I set up horsekeeping quickly and saddled Lily.

The BO returned - she got 3rd the
first day, 2nd the next.
She's always in the top ten in these events.

Since Lily has had so many soundness issues, I was hesitant to go far on her. J assured me we could turn back at any point if I grew concerned.

Lily headed out to the trailhead with ears forward, only one hesitation around the busy area where the endurance riders come in for the vet check. We hit the trail at a walk, but soon we were trotting.

Oh boy, I thought. This is really going to be a problem. We didn't trot much that first ride out, but that's usually where things get hard on Lily. Just a short bit of trotting used to set her head bobbing. She has improved, only occasional signs of a problem, generally gone once she warms up, but I still worry.People would remark that I was riding her
only in her riding halter, which is a modified
side pull. I never once thought of putting a
bit on her. There is no reason.

Most remarkably, she stayed sound - after 5 miles the first day and 7 miles where we trotted nearly 75% of the time!

It was such a nice set of rides that I wondered why I even had a horse like Smokey. No, no, I'm not letting my silly gelding go, but the carefree ride on Lily who I trust explicitly, was just fantastic.

Lily, of course, is 17. I've successfully brought her back to her best self. She has had a great deal of training and hauling. Smokey can be that kind of horse, but not right now, and not unless I give him chances to go to places, dance on the end of a line and teach him what I can. And to let Lily show him a thing or two.

So this week I gave Smokey his second ponying lesson. But I'll let him tell you about that - next time.


Anonymous said...

Nice that you have Lily around while you're getting Smokey down the path a step at a time. And that's great that Lily stayed sound - a good sign.

Unknown said...

Looks like a good day.

Captain Bailey said...

It takes so much time and effort to build a good horse. You're very fortunate that you've got an older one to remind you of is so easy to get upset and frustrated with younger horses.

John and Regina Zdravich said...

Looks like fun....
Too cool to be able to ride without a bit. I will have to try that with my Divna one of these days.

Dan and Betty said...

Good for you. It may take a few years (or more) bUt Smokey will get there.


Laughing Orca Ranch said...

I'm so glad you had the chance to head out with some new friends and enjoy a relaxing trail ride. Horse riding shouldn't always be about "working" with a horse. Even horses deserve a relaxing, fun hack on a trail sometimes.


Grey Horse Matters said...

Go Lily! What a great horse she is. I'm glad she stayed sound. Smokey will get where you want him to be with experience and a pro like Lily showing him how it's done. Sounds like a really nice time.

lytha said...

I'm afraid our lives are gonna be a lot more similar soon: ) Except that I cannot ride Baasha, I will be starting at square 1 with a horse that will probably be younger than I want. Then I realize a 10 year old with little experience is just as bad as a 4 year old. Oh boy.

Once Upon an Equine said...

Sounds like a good day for all. Glad you had a wonderful ride on Lily and that Smokey got some good exposure.

Margaret said...

That looks like so much fun. Is Lily still sound after the ride? Probably the best thing for her.

The Equestrian Vagabond said...

there's a lot to be said for those golden oldie reliable horses! (though 17 isn't old). But Smokey will eventually get there, one step at a time. His next time camping at a ride will be easier.
- The Equestrian Vagabond

Achieve1dream said...

Smokey will definitely get there, but I do understand how you feel about Lily. It's nice to have the been there, done that horse that you can just relax and ride. :) I miss that. Sounds like you had a fun weekend! Congrats to your BO.