Saturday, January 10, 2015

Sunshine on Snow

I have been struggling for several weeks with finding my motivation for riding, or leaving the house or for anything physical. The cold has seemed to settle into my bones and I ache all over. The ride on Weds left me chilled to the bone and completely unmotivated to do anything. J and I had talked about doing a ride this morning, but after getting up at 5:15 to get the boy to the ski bus and then spending two hours at the RV show right after, I wasn't sure I really wanted to leave the house again. I texted K and she was interested in doing a ride, so we told her we would pick her up at noon.

J and I dragged ourselves out of the house and as soon as the sunshine hit, I felt a stir of excitement. I decided I needed to smudge the house when we got back. See if we could clear out the lethargy that is prevalent in the house. By the time we hit the barn, the weather was wonderful and I was running around in bibs and a long sleeve shirt. We loaded gear in record time, and I pulled Ashke out. We stood in the doorway to the barn and he recognized the rig as J pulled it around. It took one try, one backing up across the mudslick barn yard, then he walked onto the trailer at the second try. Once loaded, we headed out to TMR.

At TMR I helped K grab her gear and load it in the trailer. Then she went back for Eddy and I grabbed his bucket of alfalfa pellets and oats. I was behind them by twenty feet or so as she walked Eddy to the trailer and he just walked on. My jaw dropped. That was amazing. To see a horse that balked and struggled to even be willing to get close to the trailer just walk on without a hesitation, was phenominal. Saiph told me they would get more willing as they realized that the trailer took them fun places. She was absolutely right.

We headed for Chatfield.

When we got there it took half an hour or so to groom, pick and tack up. I choose to ride without the boots since I figured the ground was mostly snow covered or fairly soft. Hooves are much stickier than gloves and I wanted to ensure he was as sure footed as possible. I did, however, put on his new exercise boots (BOT) on his front legs. I will also get a pair for the back legs eventually. I figured the front boots were more important to start. I'm pretty sure he clipped himself last week in the indoor arena. Watching him walk when he is warmed up, he is tracking up to the point where his hind feet are overstepping the hoof marks from his front feet. We were working on the slalom poles and he left a patch of white hair on the dirt. I couldn't find where he had hit himself, but I felt it and saw the evidence. Figured the exercise boots were a good idea. Tacked up, we headed out to explore.

There was a lot more snow than we were expecting, but the weather was just as perfect as expected. It hit a high of 59 and turned the waiting snow into a mushy mash of snow, ice and water. It was worse than mud for J. It was taking every thing she had to keep the bike moving forward at our walking pace.

We rode on this sidewalk for fifteen minutes or so and then moved to the road. J rode on the road and K and I rode next to the road. Eddy was a lot more up than K was expecting, and so they spent some time weaving around bushes and trotting his slow trot to keep up with Ashke's walk.

Today marked our fourth trail ride with Eddy. He was a little nervous to start, but by the end of the ride he was letting traffic whiz by without turning his head.

It was such a beautiful day. We had a brief canter on the gravel road leading to the model airplane park, with Eddy cantering comfortably with K. Ashke and I cantered a couple of times through the snow where the ground was level and the snow was fairly thin.

When we were walking through the trees, I was very happy we were traveling slow, since Ashke stepped in a hole that neither of us suspected was there. I was happy he had the extra support on his front legs when that happened. He was fine and didn't seem to notice, but I was really happy we weren't traveling any faster.

We rode out to the Highline Canal. When we got there it became really apparent, very quickly, that it was not good terrain for J. Or the horses. Slick. Muddy. Very wet. We turned around and headed back.

I really prefer to ride a loop, in part because it is more entertaining, but also in part because the horses don't know we are headed back to the trailer. When we turned around Ashke was all business and was just walking, but Eddy was tossing his head, flipping his bit, and fighting with K. He absolutely didn't want to walk. She started making him do serpentines through the brush next to where J and I were riding. I was laughing because Ashke kept looking over at them and almost shaking his head. He was thinking why is that silly horse working so hard when he could be walking calmly.

I was walking along and all of a sudden I heard K call out. She sounded a little stressed. I turned around and Eddy was laying in the snow with K on his back. K was encouraging him to get back up without rolling on her saddle. She stayed on while he heaved himself back on his feet and then shook vigorously. The only thing we could figure is that he was hot from the trotting and wanted to cool off. J said he laid down like a camel. I almost got my camera out in time.

The ride back was uneventful. It was getting more and more wet as we went along. J enjoyed a brief downhill run and then stopped to warn us of two narrow but steep gullies we had to ride around. As we were riding, I slipped my hand in the gullet of the Alta. This is something I do on occasion to check the saddle fit at Ashke's withers. When I first got the Alta, my finger on the right side of the gullet would be slightly pinched between the side of the gullet and his wither as Ashke walked. The finger on the left side would feel no pressure and would slide and move around in the space that was there. I understood that the difference in the fit from one side to the other was due to the movement imbalance that Ashke experienced with his injuries. Today, when I did the same thing, the improvement was marked. The right and left side was pinching my finger pretty close to the same amount as he walked. His left wither has definitely developed over the past ten months. I was pretty tickled to discover this. Additionally, he has put on some weight, because his saddle was one hole looser than last week. 

New Back on Track Exercise Boots. Loved them. Will only ride with them going forward.

When we got back to the barn, we were running late to meet T at the ski bus. I dumped Ashke in his stall with another mash and we got the tack put away. And then we went to park the trailer and almost got it and the truck stuck in the mud. J says it wasn't that close, but it sure felt that way to me. The trailer parking area was a slimy clay mud pit. But, J was a rock star and she and Sully managed the bricked trailer just fine. We unhitched and headed out.

A pretty good day for January.

Our overall average was good and our canter was forward and relaxed without rushing.

1 comment:

  1. What a great ride. I've wondered about the SMB-type BoT boots for a long time. I'm glad you're liking them! I can't imagine trying to cycle through slush and mud...J is a rock star on every level! :)

    It's always scary when a horse lies down with us on board because I think the first thing we think is, "Is there something wrong with him??!" and then, "Please don't roll onto the saddle!" And then the horse gets up and everyone bursts out laughing. Kathy's episode with Queenie last spring, where she laid down so she could rub her bridle and ear bonnet off on the grass, still makes us all laugh. It's awesome that Eddy is otherwise getting the hang of being a trail horse and that he's loading so easily into the trailer now! :D