Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Riding hurts

...or at least riding youngsters hurts.

Saturday mid-morning I headed out with D and T to do a little ride on a flat road in the adjacent
county. D's been telling me about this road for awhile noting how awesome it would be for Griffin since its relatively flat. He'll be 3 years old next month, and while I've started him under saddle, I don't want to do frequent or heavy US work with him yet. So a flat road ride through the woods on USFS road that doesn't get a lot of traffic sounded like a perfect idea.

We loaded the three horses into the stock trailer - Griffin loaded like an old pro - and headed out. Upon arrival at our destination about 30 minutes away from the barn, I pulled Griffin off the trailer to find him VERY sweated up from the ride. Poor fella was a little stressed (and it was hot and humid) from the ride. No heavy breathing though. Within 10 minutes he was drying off. Not bad for first trailer ride away from the farm.

We tacked up the horses and headed down the road; Griffin wasn't even bothered by the Renegades I'd tossed on his front feet, he'd never worn them prior! Good man. The rpad was a very gentle grade that followed along the upper contour lines of the Blackwater Canyon. Intermittently shady and sunny.

Griffin started out so eagerly. He has an incredibly fast walk it seems. He plowed out ahead of the other two horses fearlessly. He led for much for the first third of the ride. He oggled a few boulders along the roadside, but learned quickly that while they are big and contrast in color greatly from the surroundings that they aren't, in fact, horse-eating monsters.

We stopped through a campground to see if the horses would drink from the stream about a third of the way through the ride. The seasoned ex-endurance horse (19 yr. old Arab) plodded down through the little single track leading to the stream and right into the water. Oliver (4 yr. old KYMH) hesitated a bit, but did go down and get a drink - D led him.

I also decided to lead Griffin down when it was his turn. He was having none of it. I think the majority of the issue was that the stream bed was bedrock/boulder which were all a very light cream/white color in comparison with the surroundings. This wigged him out. He's encountered streams, but not with a bedrock-type like this. Ultimately I grabbed a stick and did the same routine I did (and Dom does) to get a horse to load on a trailer. We never made it all the way to the stream (sigh) but we did end on a positive note of him stepping forward. Note to self: bring dressage whip always for future outings! That stick wasn't big, but far more dense and therefore heavy.

We plodded along down the road a ways further. A large stumpy branch was stuffed in a sink hole in the road to ward away cars. Griffin bravely surpassed this "monster" first before the other horses. Very good boy! However, a little ways further there was a stream crossing in the middle of the road. Same cream/white bedrock. We had to herd Griffin across it, but it didn't take much effort. On the way home later it was a non-issue.

We got to what I deemed should be the turn-around point for our ride and headed back. When we were about half way back to the trailer after the turn-around the "fun" began. My steady-eddy youngster decided he was through being awesome and would now exhibit some true greenie behavior.

We were chatting away, walking three abreast down the road with Griffin on the far right. I don't know WHAT he saw or WHY he did it, but suddenly (within a 3 second span) he leaped straight up into the air, swerved/dodged to the left, threw a  buck or two, and suddenly I was hitting the ground. I sat the jump and the swerve/dodge and the first buck but the second had me off. I 'd maneuvered well enough to not crash into the ground at too bad an angle, but still landed HARD on my right hip, catching myself with my right hand. It was as graceful as it could have been, all things considered. Still hurt like a bitch though.

And the freak thing? (Because clearly having freak occurrences with my horses is the norm?!) In his acrobatics Griffin managed to throw off his rope halter with attached Zilco bridle and Cashel quiet-ride fly mask. HUH?! For those of you familiar with those products you know they all clamp down rather securely. I don't know HOW Houdini managed this bit of action, but he did. It will remain a mystery much as Q's mechanism of injury from the No Frills ride. Additionally, a stirrup and accompanying leather came off, too. Wintec saddle stirrup leather bars have no "lock in" so when torqued from the right direction they come off easily; this has never been a problem. I figure my leg must have flown backward in my attempt to right myself in my fall.

So here's the scene now: I'm gathering up the halter/bridle/flymask + stirrup and leather and Griffin is trotting the opposite direction free as a bird with nothing on his head to catch him with. D and T try to wrangle him with no luck. I gather myself and try to wrangle him with no luck. He darts in the opposite direction with speed when anyone nears him. Little shit.

We participated in this song and dance routine for about a half hour. Many expletives were said, most of which were in English but with a horrible French accent because it made the words sound better. "Come here you leetle sheet foo-kair!" Yep. Lots of that. Eventually, with all manner of tactics attempted, we gave up. He was headed toward the trailer and I just decided to follow him.

I set off at a nice little walking pace along the left side of the road, Griffin on the right about 20 yards
I've decided he should wear purple and Q should wear the
orange; both colors pop better on the horses
ahead. I kept my eyes downcast and my pace steady. I paid him absolutely no mind and just focused on keeping my pace steady. Within 3 minutes or so the distance between he and I had dwindled to nothing, then he let me pass him, then he stopped and turned away slightly. It was funny because his body positioning in relation to mine was as if he'd been lunging me and was asking me to come into him. I approached and haltered him as if nothing had happened. He'd realized that I'd quit playing his game and gave up. Note to self: Don't even start playing his game in future occurrences.

We removed his Renegades so he had to think a helluva lot more about what he was doing with his feet for the last bit of the ride and headed on our way. No more antics. No more issue. Back to being a solid little citizen.

He loaded up like an old pro back at the trailer. I downed some ibuprofen. And that was that. I ended up spending most of Sunday lying around as a result of being SO SORE, but not too worse for the wear all things considered.

The one incident left a pretty bad taste in my mouth about the day, but overall, he did SO well for his first away-from-barn outing. He was forward, brave, and responsive 90% of the time. I'm bound to end up a little black and blue during the training of my greenie. Glad its not any worse.

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