It took two minutes to load Ashke and even less than that to load Eddy. K's confidence and Eddy's understanding have certainly grown, and he is less and less of Eddy Haskell, and more of The Eds with every ride. I'm really excited about the things we will do this summer!
Anyway, at Chatfield we unloaded, groomed and tacked up. Both horses were full of energy but not out of control. Well, not to begin with. One of the big differences this year is the amount of energy the horses have at the beginning of the ride, the middle of the ride and the end of the ride. Ashke has become the energizer bunny.
After crossing the river, we moved to the north side of the road so J could ride the sidewalk. The ground was just muddy enough that she was going to brick her bike if we weren't careful. The footing next to the sidewalk was decent in most places, although there were a couple of places where I could feel Ashke's feet slipping in the mud. It was good enough that the ponehs could move out at a fast trot.
Ashke really loves this part of his job
We were following a sand based road, where we could trot and canter a little bit.
This was about the point where Ashke began flipping his head. He really struggles to maintain an even pace when we are riding behind Eddy, but being second in the pack is important. K and I took turns riding in front and varying our pace, so that we could work on rating our horse's speed and making sure they were actually going in the gait we wanted and not what the other horse was doing. Ashke was fighting me hard and flipping his head like crazy. I couldn't figure it out and was getting really frustrated. We finally stopped so J could shed some layers and let the boys graze while we waited. Ashke grabbed several mouthfuls of grass to eat and then he was fine for the rest of the ride. I was able to ride at the pace I wanted without the fight we were having earlier. I figured he had finally figured it out.
And then I saw this:
Silly horse had his tongue over the bit.
All I can figure is that when he started grazing he managed to get his tongue back under the bit.
Next time, I'll know to have J check.
The Eds. Being Eddy.
This loop we ride is almost 9 miles. It includes a three to four mile dirt road which is perfect for speed trotting and extended periods of cantering. When we reached the fork for the river trail we broke for lunch and both horses were pretty sweaty. It hit 74 on Sunday and was damn near a perfect day. We let the boys graze for a good twenty minutes, while we ate part of lunch, then we headed for the river trail.
Ashke would have cantered the entire thing had I let him. I kept him to a trot, because there was a lot of downed trees and hanging branches we were having to maneuver over and through. The horses were really good about the stuff on the ground, but they have no concept of hanging limbs. Thankfully, everything was light enough that we could take it on the top of the helmet at a trot, but we only cantered a couple of times, since I didn't want to unhorse myself and give myself a concussion at the same time. I know, narrow minded of me. Plus, there were a couple of times when we went around a corner and there was a blockage on the trail.
J had to sit on the lower one and turn her bike sideways to get through.
K and I went around.
We got back to the trailer with a 5.6 mph average (so much faster than last year but a full mile per hour). Unsaddled, loaded and headed home. The drive is now about an hour to any of our riding spots each direction, but we've figured out a route that keeps us out of the majority of traffic.
At the barn we unloaded and then I held Ashke in the wash stall while J rinsed the sweat from him. He was shaking with fear when I first led him into the arena, positioning him with the wall close enough to touch on his right side. He finally stopped shaking when I turned him around and repositioned him to rinse the other side. However, he did try to bite me several times toward the end. Yes, it would have hurt had he actually connected, but he wasn't trying to get his teeth on me. He just wanted me to know how displeased and unhappy he was with the whole process. He does nip when he is stressed. I let him bite at the palm of my hand (where he can't get anything) and as he calms down the behavior goes away. This behavior is so much less than when I first got him and I understand where it comes from, so as long as he's not really trying (as opposed to expressing his fear) I don't reprimand him. I just gently remind him verbally that we don't bite (toddlers do the same thing).
I think J and I might see if we can get T to ride Hidden Mesa with us on Saturday.