Nice Driving There, Buddy….

Wow. It is amazing how stupid some people can be. Tonight, on the way home from a very fun ride in the Ganaraska forest, with Dressy loaded in the trailer, some guy in a red pickup truck pulled out of a driveway in front of my truck. RIGHT in front of my truck. After a fraction of a second of disbelief… I stood on the brakes. I was doing about 90kmh and fully locked up the truck and trailer brakes. Went into a skid on the wet pavement. I could hear all the tires squealing. I thought at first that I was going to t-bone the guy right in the driver’s door.  He must’ve stood on the gas though, because as I went skidding off onto the shoulder, I watched the back of his truck just slide past my front end. JUST past. I might have missed him by a couple of inches. I was so positive I was going to hit him that I was shocked at the lack of impact. And then I was shocked that I managed to right the truck and trailer and get it back on the pavement without rolling the entire rig.It felt strangely anti-climactic to find myself coasting slowly along in a straight line again.

My trailer is not light. It’s an old steel four horse head to head. So the deck, not including the nose of the gooseneck, is 24 feet long. Between the truck and the trailer, it’s thousands of pounds (the trailer alone is 6000lbs never mind the truck), and I would think quite, quite deadly at that speed. Who in their right mind pulls out in front of a rig that size? Although it was dark, visibility was good. My lights were all on, including the interior trailer lights which meant the window at the front of the gooseneck was lit up as well as all the marker lights. The road was flat and straight. He absolutely could see me. If he looked. Which I think he must not have done.

That was just way too much adrenaline for my system. I still feel a little shaky and sick from it. Dressy seems to have suffered no ill effects (she’s a seasoned traveler). Jen, bless her soul,  is feeding the horses for me tonight. I’m going to finish my tea and take a long hot bath.


More Work With Lady

Went up yesterday and rode Lady again. She is quite a smart little cookie. She again declined to leave her new mom, and I had to insist. She pinned her ears a little bit at me. She reminds me a great deal of Foxy Baronessa, who bonded to her new owner like this too. To the exclusion of all others.

She’s a nice filly though, and after we discussed it, she moved along and did as I asked willingly. Her brakes are good, and she steers pretty well. She has the typical big Standardbred walk. She seems to have no concerns about a rider on her back and stands well for mounting/dismounting.

Her new owner got on her after a while. The filly was very good with her too. But has a tendency to just stand there when asked to move forward. I think that perhaps she was a bit tentative about getting after the filly to insist that she move on. When I rode her, I just went ahead and flapped my legs and pushed with my seat until I irritated her enough that she moved.

Once they have gotten used to your legs against their sides, most of them tolerate pressure well. Standardbreds off the track like this are usually quite broke… they just have to get used to someone above them instead of behind, and the pressure of legs against their sides. Everything else is just a variation of what they already know.

After we were done, she went out into a big paddock next to the round pen for a while. Where there was quite a display of badness. Galloping around like a complete lunatic. Quite snippy about her mom leaving her again. She can definitely canter anyway. And gallop…

Oh, and apparently on the weekend, a fire engine went by while her mom was in her paddock with her. They went over to the fence near the road and watched it go by, lights and sirens both on. Lady just watched it with some curiosity. No spook at all. She’s a steady-minded little horse, that’s for sure.

Year End Points

I have just finished uploading the final set of ride results to the Ontario Competitive Trail Riding Association website (I’m the webmaster). With that final set of results, all the year end points are now up to date.

So… here’s the rundown on our various little blog stars…

Brooke, who rode Dressy for part of this year, and had her season cut short by a motorcycle accident, ended up as the 7th place Junior.

Diego (Misha’s horse – boarded here with me) just barely missed the top ten in Set Speed with an 11th place finish overall. He also finished in the top ten at only his second 50 in extreme heat. Passing horses on the last loop.

Blazing Grace, Chrystal’s little chestnut off-track Arab mare (she of the exceedingly hard luck history), entered three set speed rides. Won all three easily. And ended up in sixth place in Set Speed for the season. Her little chestnut butt was the star of yesterday’s blog post 🙂

Shorty (Short Circuit), the Standardbred/Arab cross that I rode at Spring Ride finished 8th in Set Speed for the season. He also finished his first 50 this year with his regular rider, Mike.

Foxy Baronessa (one of my old Standardbred racehorse charges) finished 21st (of 70) in Set Speed for the season.

Dressy Gal… my big bad boss mare… ended up Reserve Champion Set Speed horse. And will also get the High Point Standardbred award. She is a most excellent mare 🙂

Dressy and Grace In the Ganaraska Forest

It was an absolutely lovely autumn day yesterday. Sunny and warm. I went in to work a bit early so I could get on the road by 11. It’s a little under an hour and a half to drive over to the Ganaraska Forest, so although it’s not close enough to ride there regularly, it’s a reasonable day trip. With 11,000 acres of forest and hundreds of kilometers of trails, it’s definitely worth the trip.

I thought perhaps I’d load Dressy into the back stall, where Diego usually travels, because it’s right over the axles and would make a lighter load on the truck. But oh boy… that triggered a little hissy fit from the boss mare. “That’s NOT my house!!”  And then she decided to unload herself and not load at all. So the whole thing degenerated into our semi-yearly “Who’s the Boss?” discussion. After which, Dressy loaded like a rather subdued angel.

I guess we were due for that though… yesterday I hear Dressy knocked Misha on her behind coming into the barn. Misha, thank god, was kind enough NOT to take photos of the enormous black bruise on her tailbone (she was tempted, I know she was… she regularly photographs her injuries and emails them out…).

Once that was over with, the trip went smoothly and we passed Chrystal and her little mare, Grace as they rode down Porter Road to meet us at the forest entrance. By the time I unloaded and tacked up, they were just riding into the parking area. So the timing was perfect.

We rode in the West section of the forest for a change. Lately we’ve mostly ridden in Central. It made it a bit more exciting, given the numbers of dirt bikes we encountered. Not that the horses minded, but I think Chrystal came close to spooking herself off her horse a couple of times when they came around corners unexpectedly.

Dressy has grown quite a heavy winter coat already, so she was huffing and puffing. Both horses got rather sweaty. Both Dressy and Grace are ex-racehorses. So there were a few snort-brained moments out there with Grace galloping sideways, and Dressy trying to barge on by.  Dressy had some long gallops that were actually real gallops with her legs moving in the right order. Chrystal was saying at one point that she’s got Grace changing leads on cue, at least sometimes. Made me laugh… I figure Dressy’s only barely figured out that she HAS leads, never mind changing them 🙂

All told we did a little over 12 miles in 2.5 hours. It may have been the last really nice ride of the year, given that we are now into November.

Here is the GPS track for the day…

And some photos of the gorgeous autumn colours….


Backing the Filly

Yesterday, I went up to back Spanish Lady, the Standardbred filly that I placed last week. Her new owner took her out driving on the roads the day before… actually it was the new owner’s husband who drove her. Lady was very steady and managed to charm him too. Which took some doing because he’s one of those “Standardbreds are ugly clunkers” kinda horse people.  It’s an uphill battle getting many horse people to even look at a Standardbred.

Anyway, the backing was a big success. We tacked her up, took her into the round pen and gradually got her used to my weight draped over her. She was quite aware of what I was doing, but never offered any resistance or reactivity. By the end of the session I was riding her around in circles both directions, stopping, and backing. We didn’t do more than walk, but she was really quite perfect.

The only criticism I have of her is that she’s like a damn puppy. Follows her mom around trying to snuggle. So it was hard to turn her away when she wanted to follow. Next session I’m going to have to boot her beloved new mother OUT of the round pen so I can get more of the filly’s attention on me. It’s nice to see such a strong bond already though 🙂