February 8, 2015
In thinking of a title for this post I could only come up with something to attempt to describe how pleased, happy and elated I am after today! This is the best day of 2015 (so far!).
I felt Khaleesi was ready for a trail ride, but not alone, and I had come up short today for someone with the experience to come “babysit” us and be able to keep Faygo in control. So I resigned myself to find a “Plan B” and after some thought I came up with a really fun afternoon plan of riding around the arena as an obstacle course with both my girls. It turned out that Nette was available to come “play” with us this afternoon. I was looking forward to spending some time with Nette, and psyched to do some fun activities and put off the trail ride until the circumstances were truly right.
Sometimes you have to be flexible and believe that it’s just not the right day for what you thought you had planned.
But as I so often find when I let something go- it sometimes comes back to you. In this case I got a last minute call from an experienced rider saying she would love to drive an hour up here to take a trail ride and be the one in Fagyo’s saddle so that I could get Khaleesi out on the trail.
On the most beautiful weather day this year Plan A and Plan B were coming together- splendid!
I have to take a moment for a shout out to my fabulous husband who helps me with everything that comes up needing a power tool! He took off Khlaeesi’s saddle horn with the sawzall (which ended up being much harder than I thought). You may notice the purple, blue and black animal print duck tape (duck tape has the coolest patterns!) on the saddle pommel where we wrapped it. Also, he helped make my jumps and a platform so I could set the course up in the first place. He is ever patient and long-suffering with my obsession- in fact I haven’t overheard him tell anyone at a cocktail party lately he wishes his wife only had a drug problem… “no… worse… it’s horses….” He is such a good sport and I am lucky to have his support in my horse crazy life, as I’m sure it’s not always easy on him.
We began with a walk-through of the home-made course – I led Khaleesi and she had no issue with any of it. Then Nette walked her through- and she was nonplussed.
For fun (my fun, not so much hers!) I rode Faygo through it. She came through a bit hot, and not nearly as clean as Khaleesi, but she did everything I asked (with a bit of expected Faygo-tude). She is a T-R-A-I-L horse, not an A-R-E-N-A jump through hoops horse you know!
Then I got on Khaleesi and we rode through the course, not perfect control, but certainly passable. It was a blast to have her do so well and not be fearful of anything there. Also, we did it in her training halter- not a bit, so I was pleased with the amount of control we did have!
Ironically, today, the first day I ever set up a little home-made obstacle course, the person who came to help ride Faygo for me, Judy, competes in evening. I tried not to be self-conscious of my jerry-rigged course as Judy came walking down to say hello. I was happy to hear that she was impressed that Khaleesi walked right onto our wooden platform on her first try as I overheard her say to Nette “Not all horses will do that you know”. (True! Even Faygo balked at me our first time over it)
After some fun in the arena, we put on our boots (the horse boots) and hit the trail. Before getting on her the nerves began…
are we really ready for this? am I moving too fast? breathe like it’s no big deal or she’ll wonder what I’m afraid of!
She walked off from my mounting stool a few times and I hoped it wasn’t a sign that she was going to be total disaster. But eventually I did get on her, and we posed for a quick picture (Thank you Nette!) and then walked off together toward the same trail we’d ridden in times past (ritualistic habituation again- start with what you know, then build from there)
Khaleesi was fantastic, sure-footed, under control, and she took the lead spot occasionally as well as followed easily. If we got behind a bit she didn’t fret. We went over, under around and through up there on the mountain, and no matter what she had to do we worked it out as a team. We even unlatched a gate together (though we couldn’t quite get it open ourselves). We rode over 5 miles today at a decent clip of around 3.5 mph. No, not enough to finish an endurance ride, but certainly a great starting point. And Khaleesi “the anchor” kept up much better with me riding her as opposed to dragging her along.
Ok it was just a trail ride, but I felt like we rocked the mountain! I felt like I was on top of the world.
Not to take anything away from Faygo the fine… she was patient, waiting for us every time Khaleesi pooped (most horses can walk and poop- Khaleesi hasn’t figured that out yet), she let us take the lead on occasion and never griped, she kept a good pace without leaving us behind entirely, and though it’s still a little slick out there (especially with front boots), she took great care of Judy (who is a lovely rider herself) and did everything exactly right. She even closed our last gate with Judy hardly having to do a thing!
I am so proud of my girls- I am beaming that they did so well — I can hardly share it in words. I am so proud of what we’ve accomplished in less than 7 months, which seems like a long time in some ways, but such a short time in others. I don’t think I’m any kind of amazing horse trainer, or that she is any more impressive than average horse. I’m sure that in some other situations people might say 7 months is a long time to take a 4 year old horse from green to on the trail- but, we’ve made our own path, we’ve done it our way, and bonded in the journey. And as the AERC folks would say- we are riding our own ride!
This is another huge step!
We are on the trail!