I finally talked N into trying a ride off property. We got a new hitch (2 5/16ths) and put air in all of the tires, cleaned out the back and then refilled the trailer with fresh shavings. We loaded our tack and then brought out the horses. Despite N feeling stressed about Cali getting on the trailer, she pretty much walked right on. Ashke followed her and within 15 minutes we were loaded and headed to Bear Creek.
BTW, the Big Sully truck did awesome pulling N's two horse trailer both up and down hills. It was like we weren't towing a rig at all.
Bear Creek cost $7 to go into and we pulled to the arena, since I knew where that was and knew it would be comfortable for us to park there. When we arrived, we took the first fifteen minutes to eat our Subway sandwiches and then we unloaded.
J was awesome, as well. She hauled and carried and helped while we were getting ready.
Don't be fooled. My boy was NOT asleep.
Don't you just love my new saddlebags? They are subtle.
Both horses did awesome. It was a really great day.
Booted and ready to go. The saddlebags worked pretty darn good. And I am easy to identify at a distance.
The terrain was a little rough on J. Her bike doesn't have shocks or offroad tires. She's pretty tuckered tonight. A lot of what we rode was single track and rocky.
This is the trail down to the water crossing I rode over with Lisa a year ago. Unfortunately, Bear Creek rewrote itself during the flooding in September. The creek was four times wider than it was a year ago, with a lot of wrack and down trees in the water. We turned around and went another way.
J spent a lot of time in front of us. Especially on the downhill.
Cali had no interest in pointing her ears forward.
J was awesome at getting in front of us and taking some video.
There was a lot of small feeder creeks that had water or mud in them that we had to cross. A lot of the bridges at Bear Creek don't have any rails on them, which made me very nervous.
J was still smiling at the top of a pretty steep hill. She was waiting for us when we got up there.
I offered to trade, but she wasn't interested. Cali and Ashke were still going strong.
We followed the trail alongside Hwy 8 and got passed by big rigs, motorcycles and fast cars.
The only one who was really stressed by this was N.
We headed east along the canal until we realized that 1) we couldn't cross the canal and 2) it was not making the ride shorter. J was beginning to have misgivings and I said we should still try to go forward. N said NO. It was time to turn back. She then accused me of being willing to ride to the ends of the earth. I laughed so hard I had tears sliding down my cheeks.
There was a really nice place where we could canter and I suggested that we try. As soon as we got going, Ashke threw his head up, braced against my hands and began to be a complete idiot. He was running sideways trying to get away from my demand he slow down. N saw we were having problems and slowed down. I was pissed and tired of fighting him every time we try to canter. It's always the same story: he wants to race Cali. He hates being in the back.
N suggested we take a moment to school Ashke, since the ground was level and smooth. She had me move him in a circle around her at a smooth trot. It took us two circles to achieve a smooth trot, then she had me canter him around her, keeping him from falling in on the circle and collected. Then we turned and did it in the other direction. To the left, Cali paced him on the inside and we trotted and then cantered and Ashke was forced to work with Cali in front of him at a canter without trying to run away. It worked to let Ashke know he wasn't allowed to behave that way.
When I was a kid I worked a horse that constantly wanted to run. He belonged to our neighbor and they paid me a couple of ton of hay for me to work him and get him rideable. I couldn't ride him with anyone else, since it was a constant fight for him to race and beat the other horse. I finally took him to the race track (it was within riding distance) and ran him. I made him run past the point where he wanted to stop. I ran him past the point where he thought it was fun. I ran him until he almost didn't ever want to run again. I finally got him to canter at a nice, easy, controlled pace without fighting with me. I never had an issue with him racing again. I wonder if I need to do something like that with Ashke.
I asked N if going forward we could work on something like what we did in the field, in the arena, where I follow her and Cali around, forcing Ashke to maintain the speed I want while she is in front of him. I started that on the way back to the trailer, letting Cali lead the entire way back. We did have some dicey moments where Ashke and I had to converse about who was in charge.
Still with a smile on her face, even after 7 miles of rough road. She's a rockstar, that one.
The horses crossed the creek with minimal issue. We went across the first time so quickly that J couldn't get down to film us. On the way back, we waited for her to get into position and film them crossing.
Back at the trailer, we untacked and loaded up while being watched by a herd of deer. The sight of deer caused N to burst into song. From Bambi, we think, but honestly I'm not really sure. We drove home in the dark. Unloaded and put the horses away. Cleaned out the trailer and parked it.
All in all, a great day. Snow is predicted on Tuesday.