Today, we did a trail ride up on the Mesa. N just got a new puppy, smooth, tri-colored collie they named Lou (for Lou Holtz).
Because of the new puppy, we needed to do a fairly quick trail ride. The weather was 57 degrees, sunny sky and intermittent wind. Just about perfect riding conditions. And there was NO Freaking way I was going shopping!
I got to the barn just about noon and Ashke whinnied when he heard my voice, then walked into his stall and up to the door to stick his head in the halter. Not that he was happy to see me or anything.
We saddled up and N let me know that Becky was going to ride her new QH out with us for the first time. Her new pony is a four year old QH that's been very well trained already and she wants to work on showing him in some type of Western class but also thinks getting him out on the trail is good for his mind. I booted Ashke and have to tell you I am so ready to change to the Renegades. I hate my Backcountry boots. The back ones are so loose they fall off and the front ones are so tight I had to use a hoof pick to get them off. (I was cussing so much that Becky and one other woman came over to see if they could help.)
We got out of the barn about 12:35, tightened girths and swung up. It worked best to let Ashke lead with Bentley behind him and then Cali. Cali didn't care about staying with the herd and was walking very slow. At one point, N stopped encouraging Cali to move and she just stopped in the middle of the trail. She didn't seem to mind that Ashke and Bentley kept going.
I let Ashke just go. I didn't ask him to collect or bring his head down. I rode most of the ride with the reins in one hand. He's spent so much time in the arena that I just wanted today to be fun. And it was. I think we both needed the break.
When we got to the part of the trail where it goes straight up to the top of the Mesa on the main road or cuts to the right and continues around the side of the Mesa, I asked Ashke to canter. He did. Cali followed at a canter and Bentley brought up the rear at a trot (he didn't want to canter.) Just as we got to the trail where it cuts to the right an idiot bicyclist cut across in front of us and then down the road. He almost got ran into by Ashke. Bentley jigged a little bit when the bike rider whipped past him. I hollered at the rider and told him to stop. He yelled "Why?" And I yelled back that we have right of way. He didn't stop, but if he gets kicked I won't feel bad.
Ashke was pretty up after our canter. We walked pretty easily; a nice, big, swinging walk. When we were almost to the parking lot I turned us downhill and headed back toward the dirt road that runs from the highway to a house nestled at the bottom of the Mesa. We walked across the prairie and I kept an eye out for barbed wire, prairie dog holes and hidden rocks. The ground was a little wet in places and I could feel Ashke's back feet slip a time or two, but overall he did great.
N really wanted to canter until I pointed out that there could be hidden wire and Becky pointed out the hidden rocks and we both mentioned the prairie dog holes. N said she had never seen prairie dogs out there, which made me laugh, because I rode through the colony a couple of months ago. We made it to the dirt road without incident and decided to try another canter. Ashke and I started in the lead, because it seems to be easier to slow him down if he is Winning. We cantered up the road and saw a culvert with a broken stick and some orange flags, and I slowed back to the trot. After the flags, we picked up the canter again.
This time Ashke was running faster and fighting me. He could hear both Cali and Bentley running behind him and it made him want to really run. I was standing in my stirrups, with the reins very short, working hard to keep him at a canter and not a dead run. N, riding up close to us, said, "sit back, Karen, and drop your shoulders." Like a good student, I did.
Ashke leaped ahead as I sat back in the saddle, running all out. N saw him jump and slowed Cali. Or tried to. Bentley didn't want to slow either. I wrestled Ashke back under control and got him stopped. I'm thinking he thinks he's a race horse, but I keep telling him I'm not a Jockey.
While we were standing in the middle of the road letting me catch my breath, I pointed out the prairie dog colony on the far side of the road. We bushwhacked back up to the trail and made our way home. I think both Cali and Ashke felt rejuvenated by our little outing. Ashke had his swinging walk on our way home.
We finished our ride. Ashke was a little sweaty under the saddle, but for the most part he did great. The 1.5 mph had to have been when we were going up hill and had to stop for about a dozen bike riders, since Bentley hadn't been exposed to them before.
Not bad for an hour and a half. I'm thinking that I should try riding in the running martingale when we are on the trail. I am going to talk to Cassandra about utilizing that tool when we ride out. It will help keep Ashke's head down when we are cantering. I will see what she says.
Some housekeeping items: I have a sore foot. It is the right foot and seems to be the muscle between my second and third toes (the fascia). It has been bothering me off and on for a couple of months. It seems to be aggravated by my riding on the balls of my feet. I don't know if it's a use issue or a boot issue. This morning as I was walking down the stairs, I pushed off with my right foot, somehow managing to lift my entire body by that one toe and heard something pop. I have it on good authority that popping is not good. It hurt like hell. And it's swollen. I'm thinking I tore something. Didn't think of it a single time while I was riding, though.
Second, I am out of practice of trail riding and felt exhausted when I got off my horse. This is not good and means that I need to ride longer - either in the arena or on the trail. I have been careful in my rides to not get Ashke real hot or sweaty. That may need to change.
Third, I hate weighing myself. I wish I wouldn't do it. My journey really needs to be about how I am riding, how strong I am getting and how my back feels. Numbers on a scale should not dictate my self-worth.
Fourth, holidays are hard for some people. I am one of those people. It has become more fun since I had my son, but they are always hard emotionally. I get depressed. I think that is a common reaction. I don't know what to do about it except to be aware and not let it effect T's holiday.
Finally, on Thanksgiving evening, N, J, T and R and myself took over a couple of plates of food to Henry at the barn. He was working by himself and hadn't had plans for Thanksgiving dinner. We provided. Then we let the horses run and prance and snort in the outdoor arena after dark while someone in the neighborhood set off fireworks. That was fun. Then we went up and helped Henry feed the horses. That took about an hour with J driving the truck and T, R, N and myself helping Henry feed the horses. We aren't very good at throwing three flakes of hay from the back of the hay trailer and hitting the feed tires. There was hay every where. It was good though, because Henry was feeding by himself and it would have taken him a couple of hours to complete the feeding if we hadn't helped. It was fun. And it felt good to help.
Tomorrow we see Diane. Look for a post about our visit. No riding on Sunday, because he needs the day off for the adjustment. And there is a Broncos/Chiefs game calling my name.