On track

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

As for our riding and training, I have to say there isn’t anything particularly exciting to report right now. I’ve taken a few rides since I last posted and for the most part they’ve been good and uneventful rides.

IMG_0396I enjoyed an exploratory ride on Faygo over the weekend. We mapped out a few trails that dead end at the moment in case I might find some new connections in the future that make them worthwhile- then we took a long way home.

She is so talented in many ways… and on the other hand can be a hot mess too. As we navigated the downhill rocky path compromising at what I found a slightly too-fast speed and she continued to communicate was a little slow for her taste, I wondered about the parallels in lives- mine and hers. Does my horse mirror me? Of course she does. But does it develop over time as our energies come together, or did I choose a horse that suits my own personality that I can relate to? What can I learn from her as a facet of my own life? The word I kept coming back to on that ride had echoed from my husbands lips few weeks ago: overconfident.

He was talking about me of course, and though the word has stuck in my head, today I was thinking of my mare. She occasionally stumbled on the loose rocks or almost ran my leg into a branch with her mind singularly fixed on the goal. The challenge of overconfidence is by very definition that you can’t really fix it. Overconfidence is something assigned to you by someone else- you can’t BE overconfident yourself- you can only believe you are exactly the right amount of confident. I sometimes wish Faygo would dial it back just a notch- but I love to ride her, even when she’s tearing up the trail and I have to be 100% present, maybe even because of that in truth. She has never let me down, she has always carried me safely home and she moves through the trails- even the ones that are more obstacle course than trail- like she’s on rails. I think about the concept of being overconfident and wonder: if you are successful, aren’t you proving you are the “right amount of confident”? I suppose time will tell.

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I found myself thinking more about what a driven and talented horse she is and what a shame it is she isn’t healthy enough for true endurance riding. If I can keep her in good enough shape I’d like to continue to run her in LD (Limited Distance) rides in cooler weather. She is forward and so fun to ride, I sometimes think she could be a true top 10 LD horse in the right climate and season. I am hoping to continue to bring her to rides when the circumstances are right- and continue to ride her in LDs to see how she does.

At the moment, she is getting just enough attention to keep her in shape (I ride her myself a minimum of one good ride a week, and she gets on trail 2-3 days if I have someone to come ride with me – which has been pretty common so far this year). This week she got 2 nice rides in and I plan to get her out Friday as well.

Sometimes she seems annoyed to have to work, sometimes if I take Khaleesi and leave her in the field- when I come back she ignores Khaleesi and hangs out with me getting rubbed and scratched and nuzzling my shoulders with her nose. Because she’s my “first love” I will always have a special place in my life and heart for her. I’m not really sure if she’s communicating that she misses being the first choice, number one horse, and my constant trail partner… or if she’s saying “I know you’ve already taken a ride, so I can get some love and attention without worrying you’ll make me work today.” She’s a mare- it probably depends on how she feels that day, and maybe as with most of us as we age- we can feel both of those things at the same time.

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As for Khaleesi, I absolutely love the work we’re doing together. Our relationship is different than the one I have with Faygo, and she’s an entirely different animal. Her conditioning is coming along great and she’s taking the longer rides in stride. We are deepening our “Jedi” communication and when the circumstances are aligned, I can change her stride, move into a trot or back to a walk with energy and thought, and our steering is getting much more fine tuned as well. I can open and close the easier gates from on her back and we are starting to really become a team.

All of our trail challenges are getting better with each ride. On Sunday we rode with a friend (Tim) on Faygo and did some trail clearing. I was cutting branches from on her back and pulling small dead limbs off the trail as well as clipping while we rode. No problem.

IMG_0481On Tuesday we took our longest single day trail ride yet with Nancy and Carrington for a 23+ mile ride along the ridge. We stopped for a long lunch to give everyone a chance to regroup and all our horses did fantastic. — Renegade (hoof boot) report: there have been torrential flooding rains and we went through some serious mud- the worst spot around mile 18 was like quicksand, scary for us as well. When we came out one back boot had twisted. Once I fixed it they all stayed on until removed at home.

Khaleesi still has her toddler moments when she has a slight meltdown, but it’s coming later and later in our ride now. A month ago it was after 3 hours, now it was after about hour 5 and over 15 miles. I can tell the difference but even in “meltdown” mode she is functioning and comes around without becoming dangerous. She begins to refuse going forward, then tries to turn me around or detour off the trail:

Khaleesi: Seriously, we have GOT to turn around soon and go home because if my calculation is correct, 15 miles in and 15 miles out is THIRTY MILES! I’m going to die!

Me: Honestly. Do you think I would do that to you? We are only about 7 more miles from the trailer- I drove it to Nancy’s barn this morning. You need to go forward – trust me!

Khaleesi: I don’t even think this is the right trail… lets cut right through the woods that direction- I think that’s a shorter cut. It’ll be faster.

Me: NO WAY are we going bushwhacking through the woods when there is a perfectly good trail right here. What is your problem!? I am the human with the plan and the GPS- you have got to trust me.

Khaleesi: I have to eat something… it’s been hours since I’ve been grazing… You’re trying to kill me… I’m going to eat every leaf in sight to save my life, what were you thinking taking me out here this long!?

Me: stop paying so much attention to the leafy branches you are about to fall over that log!

We trip and stumble over the log– annoying but not dangerous.

Me: ENOUGH ALREADY! QUIT SCREWING AROUND! PAY ATTENTION AND PULL YOURSELF TOGETHER BEFORE I GET DOWN FROM HERE AND KICK YOUR A$$. … No more Jedi Force training- we are in all out jerk on the reins and kicking to communicate now.

Khaleesi: ok. ok… ok. I’ll try.

Then at some point- she comes around and is good again. We just have to get through the meltdown and she seems to be ok.

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She is also getting much much better with her trail manners. I can usually put her to one side of the trail or another, and a horse can pass her without too much threat of violence. She generally can lead, follow or be in the middle- though when she’s leading she can get pissy with a horse getting to close to possibly pass; when she’s in the back she can start to lag and be lazy; and in the middle she seems pretty happy at this point. We can go just about any speed from a walk to a slow trot, a really smooth fast trot, and even her canter is improving. She drinks well from stream or mud-puddle – even if horses are walking off. If she’s thirsty she will take care of herself.

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She and Nancy’s mare are not besties yet, but they are figuring out that we won’t tolerate violence. We still get tail swishing and ugly ears from time to time, but each ride improves their tolerance of each other.

So basically- we are on track all around. I have a call in to register her as an AERC horse on my membership account and we plan to enter the Iron Mountain Jubilee ride at the end of August. For now I plan to bring Faygo as well and my friend Kate and I are going to try to run a ride & tie event as well that weekend. I will ride Khaleesi on the Limited Distance the next day. I would like to take both girls, and I love including Faygo. A ride & tie is perfect for all of us because she gets a rest every mile or two, and I’m forced to get back into better shape as well. I’m really excited I have someone (a human friend) up for the challenge!

Khaleesi and Ned in the new trailer
Khaleesi and Ned in the new trailer

In order to make that work- I need a trailer that can safely haul two horses. Sunday night I took a drive to North Carolina to pick up our new equine chariot (2-horse trailer) and I love it. It’s minimal and simple without a tack room or living quarters. I’m sure my hammock will hang perfectly, and I’ll find some way to create a little space to put a few things, but it’s small, newer than my old trailer, and not rusting apart at the seams.

I’m very excited and so glad to have it!

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till next report…..

One thought on “On track

  1. Hmmm…overconfident….I have to think about this for a minute. I will say that my initial thought to the word was…I don’t think you can be.

    I’m a believer in “she thought she could…so she did”

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