Monday, May 26, 2014


 We trailered out to Marshall Lake today, just out of Boulder. There is something magical about riding under the Flatirons.

 Ashke loaded pretty quickly. I've adopted the philosophy that he can stop and look and sniff, but that if he pulls back, the come-a-long goes on. For those of you who don't know what that means, a come-a-long is a soft long rope that is tied in a figure eight around his neck and haunches. It prevents him from backing up and if needed, I could apply pressure to his legs to encourage him to walk forward. It is how I learned to teach foals to lead. With Ashke, I don't need to apply pressure, he knows it's intended to keep him from backing up. He is not allowed to kick out at the rope, either. N made the comment that it acts as a calming tool when asking him to get on the trailer. With the come-a-long on, he walked right on.

 Cali loaded pretty quickly after Ashke. We trailered without event to the parking lot, where I once again had to evict someone out of their parking place. It very clearly says "Trailers Only" on the side where we wanted to park, but the area was parked up with cars any way. It pisses me off. The woman was very nice though and didn't give us any grief. It's a good thing, because there would have been nowhere else to park.

We picked the lower trail and rode up to the canal. It was a good choice because it was less rigorous for T on his bike. Although he did have a moment when he body slammed his bike and kicked the derailer. Rage in adolescent males is not to be underestimated. 

We did walk/trot and canter on the trail. There were places where the footing was especially rocky. We even traversed some slickrock.

 We made Ashke walk in the back and Cali to be brave in the front for part of the ride. This happened because once again, my racehorse would not allow himself to be rated when cantering behind Cali. He blew through the shank bit. He pogo sticked his way down the canal. Thankfully, N heard me yell and stopped to watch us blow past her. Ashke had his head straight up in the air. That stopped after that little incident.

Even in the shank bit I was able to ask him to keep his head down and give to the bit. We looked pretty fancy.

Our only spook was at the beginning of the ride. Ashke about lost his mind when a Border Collie missing her front leg passed us on the trail. Full-blown snort and spin, trying to bolt. Cali could have cared less. For some reason, the bobbing dog did it for Ashke.

 You can't tell, but Ashke has his chin almost to his chest. He did not want to trot next to and a little bit behind the Cali.

 I so should have shortened my reins.

 I don't think N stopped smiling all day. HER horse was wonderful.

We did canter quite a bit. We cantered the hill up from the lower part of the trail to the canal. Then we cantered the canal. Or as much as we could given the footing and the other trail users.

 We stopped for lunch, which the ponies were happy about, especially Cali. I think she was personally offended by the knee high grass she couldn't eat.

We drank water and ate PB&J for lunch.

T was happier after eating. And we turned back at that point, which made all of the ride back downhill. 

He actually did pretty good.

There was one very technical part of the trail that we went up before we stopped for lunch. On the way back down, I got off and suggested to N that she hand walk Cali down the steep part. It's a good thing we did, because it was pretty difficult. Difficult enough, that when we got to the steep, slick part of the trail, N wasn't sure she wanted to try it. I suggested she lengthen her reins and go first, then let Cali pick her way down.

We were both pretty happy we chose to hand walk them down.

We made it back to the trailer just as a series of storms came over the mountains. Ashke loaded without any hesitation and Cali walked on pretty quickly too. We trailered back to TMR in spitting rain, but managed to beat the storm and get the horses and saddles inside before the skies opened up again. T helped J park the trailer while N and I fed the horses. We loaded up just as the hail started.


  1. Your pictures are always so beautiful. The scenery where you are is just gorgeous!

  2. Replies
    1. We were stopped by several families to pose for pictures on our ride yesterday. This is becoming a common occurrence.

  3. The trails are SO BEAUTIFUL. And horses on them just seems perfect. So awesome that you have access to such incredibly trails.

    And this come elaborate. I am curious to try any more tools like that on Q; the dressage whip in hand means "get on" to her, but she's starting to under-respect its presence.

  4. Love looking at all your ride pictures! So pretty

  5. One of the things I love about living in this country is how different one area is from another. Your trails are beautiful! And yay for T tackling them like a boss on his bike!

    I'm also interested in the details of your come-along. I've used a similar concept also for training babies to lead and teaching them to tie without sitting back, but I always had problems with the rope riding up the butt under the tail. What do you do to keep that from happening?

  6. So. The come-a-long is a very long soft rope, which I originally bought to be a lunge line but it really is too heavy for that. It is about 3/4 of an inch in diameter and was made with a eyesplice woven loop on one end for a snap. I took the snap off and used the woven loop as my anchor. I make a loop big enough to fit from his withers around his hind legs above the hock, but not tight. I tie that off with a simple knot and then run the rope around the base of his neck and tie it off again. My rope is long enough that I could then run it up through his halter if necessary. The two loops, along with the rope being tied off, keep the rope from slipping up his hind legs and lodging under his tail. His only defense (besides walking forward) is to kick out with both hind feet. When he does that he is forced to lunge in a circle, including a smart smack on his haunches if he persists in kicking out.

    One of the key things to using the come along is to allow him to move forward without applying more pressure to his hind legs. I only want the pressure to be applied if he refuses to move forward. It is almost like a Ttouch body wrap (which Ttouch uses for calming) but Ashke understands that there will be pressure if he doesn't move forward.

    I put the come along on him and let him move forward in a circle around me until he calms down. During that time I do not apply pressure on the come along rope. I use it primarily to keep him from pulling back, which he has a bad habit of doing. At first he would pull back, hit the butt rope and kick out, but we solved that issue by encouraging him to move forward instead. The last couple of times I've put it on him, he's circled me a couple of times as we move toward the trailer, then he calms and walks on. I used the same process to encourage him to walk into the wash stall which he now does without any hesitation.

    I will put the come along on him and take a picture this weekend, so you all can see how it is set up. And maybe a little video.

    1. That would be AWESOME. I kind of understand but am a little blurry on a couple things, visual would be super wonderful. =)

  7. I'm with the others it looks so gorgeous there! I loved all of the photos.

    I always get off and walk if the trail is steep or slippery. It's so funny because from the perspective of the camera that slope didn't look that steep, but I could tell it was watching the way the horses moved down it. :)

    How in the world do you keep Ashke so white?? I'm going to need to know all of your secrets in a few years LOL!! Sorry he wasn't too well behaved, but I'm glad no one was hurt especially in the Border Collie incident! Silly Ashke!