Heading to NAETC

I am heading out tomorrow to go to Ottawa. It’s the first leg of the journey with Team Luba.

We are going to the North American Endurance Team Challenge (NAETC), which is an FEI competition being held at Black Prong Equestrian Center in Florida. It’s a 160 km (100 mile) endurance ride. December 13th. My friend Nancy is riding her flea-bitten grey Arab mare, Serious Moonlight (Luba), and Kara and I are going along to act as pit crew (better known as grooms in FEI-land). 

It’s amazing how many of our local riders are heading down to this particular ride. We actually have twelve riders from Canada East going, as well as three from Canada West (and that’s a very LONG way to travel from Western Canada!!). And of course all those riders have grooms as well. So there will be quite a pack of us. 

Here are the Canadian riders (and horses where I know them):

Canada East
Wendy Benns – (Flirt With Fyre)
Bob Gielen
Monica Grundmann (Excalibur Legend)
Lee Hutten
Wendy MacCoubrey (Furion)
Stephanie McLeod (Amber Kiera)
Dessia Miller (Cognac Amberfyre)
Yvette Vinton
Michelle Watling (Klien)
Emma Webb (CWM Felen Zillary)
Kim Woolley (Shakka Khan)
Nancy Zukewich (Serious Moonlight)

Canada West
Ariel MacLeod
Tara MacLeod
Jaye Yavis

I hope we can get an internet connection. If so, I’m going to try to post updates and photos throughout the week.

I am looking forward to WARM WEATHER!!!!

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Moonlight Madness

I took Diego to the Summer Solstice Competitive Trail Ride this past weekend. I was judging, so although he’s a lot fitter than he was, we still only did the 12 mile Moonlight Madness ride. That’s a mileage ride that started just before dark on Saturday night. I’ve done it before, and I always have a ton of fun.

On the way up to the ride, we picked up Sandy’s horse, Benson. Pretty much the world’s cutest Arab. He is a very mellow little guy, but does not think trailering should be part of his life plan. He’s not afraid, just sort of declines to load up. However, Sandy managed to get him loaded in just a few minutes this time, so he’s improving.

The ride manager, Sue Downing, had a spot picked out for me right behind the vet check so I could keep an eye on Diego. I’m using my electric paddock for him, which is a bit risky. If he gets upset enough about being alone, he’s been known to pull out the posts with his teeth to make a break for it. He knows he’ll get a shock and goes for it anyway… diving at the posts and spitting them out as quick as he can. So, given that history, I was very happy to have him close by so that I could watch him while I was vetting CTR horses.

When I took Diego over to get him vetted, he was a bit off. Not much… grade I lame, which is “inconsistent and difficult to observe”. The vet checked him over and finally decided that he was a bit sore in his back. Saddle fit for sure. I knew that was coming. I’ve been using the same saddle as I used on Dressy and King. It’s a bit wide for him, and I’d been padding it to get it to work. But I gave the shim to Ana to use on Ares (who has a bigger fit issue than Diego) and had taken Diego over to the Vivian Forest for slightly longer rides last week. Marginal saddle fit + more miles is a recipe for a sore back.

The vet thought that since it was only 12 miles, Diego would likely be okay. I put the shim back on him and got the saddle fitting a little better. We went out a few minutes after 8pm with three other horses. Sue S. and her darling Arab mare, Peach, Caroline on Freddy, and Emma on her Morab mare.

Peach was not keen on letting anyone pass her, and was quite excited at the beginning. So we went slow, with Peach bouncing a bit in front. Nothing bad, just jigging and fussing a bit. Diego was perfectly calm and happy to follow Peach. He jogged along behind her with his head down, mostly on a loose rein. Nice, because I was able to ride just with my good arm and neck rein him for the most part. I tried taking Diego out in front once or twice, but he was not too keen on that. He really wanted to follow Peach. She had settled down a lot towards the middle of the loop. It was her first ride of the year, and she’s still pretty green, so it was just a bit of excitement at the beginning.

It was very humid, didn’t cool down at all as it got dark. The horses did get fairly warm. But Diego loves the heat. Veronica and Sandy crewed for us, and with all the help, he pulsed down fast and was at 48 within a minute or two, and was down to 40 by the time we got to the vet. He was perfectly sound to trot out. His back was no longer sore. So the shim probably helped some.

I considered keeping him in the crewing area for the hold, but thought it would be nicer to let him relax in his paddock. That would be the paddock with somewhat sparser grass in one corner and SAND. Great. At the end of the hold, we discovered that he was CAKED with sand. His head, his legs, his neck, back, sides, chest…. EVERYWHERE. He looked smug under his sand-caked forelock. Veronica, Sandy, and I had to bathe him completely before tacking him up. Pretty much by feel, since it was dark by then. So we were a little bit late leaving again.

On the second loop we caught up to the farrier (Amber-Rose) on her big Tennessee Walker and her friend who was riding for the first time (and was afraid of the dark… she managed very well despite that!) The big horse (Shallako) led for the whole loop. He was really great. Very confident guy. He moved right out and we did the loop much faster. Passed some horses.

Shallako moves right along, even when he’s walking. So his easy jog (whatever his gait is) was a good speed and suited Diego very well. We had a couple of wild uphill gallops with Sue whooping behind me. Almost lost Caroline in one of those when she lost her stirrups. But she hung in there.

The moon was really bright, keeping the trail visible in all but the really narrow trails. I gave Amber-Rose my flashlight, which I’d covered in the red plastic sheet that came in my ride package (so the light didn’t interfere with the horses’ vision). It’s one of those cheap, tiny LED flashlights. I think I bought 6 of them for about $8 at Walmart one day. I love them.

The forest was absolutely magical. The moon was bright, so everything was silvery pale, especially Diego and Peach who are both greys. There were fireflies, lots of bird calls, glow sticks, reflective safety vests, and coloured lights on the horses. We made jokes about unicorns and Lord of the Rings and cavalry charges in the dark. Giggling madly… Moon-mad riders 🙂

Diego never stumbled or took any missteps, despite moving right along in the dark and galloping a couple of big hills. That’s been another of his issues. I’ve been working on his feet, trying to get his toes back and a better breakover (he’s actually gone down from a 1.5 EasyBoot to a size 1). So I was really happy with that. I didn’t boot him for this ride though. The footing is pretty good in the Dufferin Forest. Mostly sand, with very few rocks.

The last half mile or so was a bit less relaxed. Diego knew he was almost finished and got a little ramped up. Luckily the two horses in front of us blocked the trail, and all he could do was canter at walk/trot speed, bouncing back and forth across the trail, snorting. He was frustrated, but not particularly difficult to ride. No bucking or rearing.

It was very humid/hot, even at that time of night. The horses all came in steaming and hot at the finish. Took some of them a long time to come down. Diego, who is one of those thin-skinned fleabitten greys who love hot weather, cooled off fast and pulsed down in about 2 minutes. Final CRI… 40/40.

Rose brought me a saddle to try. It’s a Schleese. She had it custom built for herself years ago. Adjustable gullet, cutback, dressage/endurance style. Thigh and knee rolls with a deep seat. I will try it on him this week.

On Sunday, I was judging all day. I started the morning by falling out of my bed in the gooseneck (we were in a slightly uphill parking spot) and crashing into the back wall. Managed to wake both Sandy and Veronica who were sleeping in cots in the horse section of the trailer. I make an excellent alarm clock 🙂

Since we’d vetted most of the horses through on Saturday afternoon there weren’t many to do in the morning. Sandy was going out just after 8, so I pulled Diego out of his electric paddock and took him away so he couldn’t watch Benson leave. We ambled around and he made friends with some of the volunteers. He grazed, nibbled at the stopwatch around me neck, and watched everything quite placidly. All of which is an improvement on past behaviour.

After Benson went out, I took Diego back to his pen. He looked around for Ben but didn’t stress. A little later he actually lay down and took a nap. Better and better! No fussing, no worrying, no deconstruction efforts.

The day just got steadily hotter, and by noon I was starting to lose focus and felt a little nauseated. I had to go and stick my head in the water trough a couple of times. I really do NOT like heat, and although I drank a lot through the day, I am pretty sure I was verging on heatstroke by the end of it. There was a new vet at the ride, just observing. I think he was a bit shocked at my cooling efforts. He commented “you really ARE a country girl aren’t you?” I pointed out that although I certainly am a country girl, what he was seeing was sheer desperation since my brain was cooking.

There were no serious problems with any of the horses. We did have quite a few horses that either did not start or did not finish. But mostly it was minor stuff. Considering the heat, that was a very good result. Riders were taking care of their horses.

The air conditioning in my truck was a huge relief on the way home. I was so tired that Veronica rode in the truck with me to keep me awake and functioning. Pit crew have many duties 🙂

Despite my overheating and exhaustion, I had a wonderful time. I absolutely LOVE that Moonlight ride.

Coates Creek Set Speed Ride

The weather forecast for yesterday`s ride looked pretty bad most of the week. And Saturday was a really awful day. But when I got up Sunday morning (well… when Misha called me from her car… already stressing about getting Diego on the trailer) the pre-dawn was reasonably bright from the moonlight, and the wind had died.  I would have been happy enough with cold and rain. But there would have been a lot of cranky volunteers for us to deal with. It turned out to be a cool, fresh October day with occasional bouts of sunshine, and absolutely gorgeous trails.

Diego was a little sticky about the trailer, and Misha was losing it a bit when I got out. Not falling apart, but starting to vibrate a little. She handed me the stock whip and I stood on Diego`s near side to prevent him from evading to that side. I don`t generally do much. Just stand there and make him nervous. But eventually, as usual with him, he allowed the unsettling person behind and the encouraging person in front to entice him on.  He`s a good little horse, but he wasn`t broke until he was 11 or thereabouts, and still thinks he should make his own decisions. Trailers have always been a problem for him.

Dressy, of course, loaded up directly. As always. She marches up, turns herself around and backs right in. “Do up that chest bar,  gimme my cookie and my hay bag, and let`s go“.

It’s about an hour and a half to Coates Creek ride site, and at 6am on a Sunday morning, traffic is near non-existent. So it was an easy trip. We arrived just as vetting started. Misha set up her electric paddock and split it down the middle to give Dressy half. It’s one of those Zareba EZEE corrals, and I have to say that although it looks nice, and the theory is good, in practice the damn thing never seems to work the way it should. Yesterday, it went up okay, but the power didn’t work. Turned out not to matter, as they were not  in it for long. But I prefer my homemade electric paddock with the cheap step in posts, a ground rod, a roll of wire, and a Zareba Yellow Jacket portable fencer. Cheap, easy, and it actually works.

There were 20 horses entered in the 31 mile Bronze level ride (which is between 4 and 7 miles per hour), and 6 horses in the Silver level ride (between 5 and 8 mph).  There were three loops, with a gate at the end of the first and a regular full vet check at the end of the second loop. A gate is where you ride in, get your horse down to a 64 heart rate, and trot for the vets to watch (for lameness) as you ride out. The clock continues to run through that type of hold. I haven’t done a gate before at a set speed ride, and I really underestimated how much it would slow us down. Towards the end of the first loop, my GPS was reading around 8.5mph average. By the time I rode out, it had dropped to around 7mph. It gradually climbed back up through that second loop. But we really never made up that time. The full vet check didn’t have as much of an impact, since the clock stopped when we reached parameter (56bpm) and we started our 40 minute hold.

Dressy really moved out on the first loop. It was unfortunate as it turned out, because she bonded to a group of horses that don’t pace well for her purposes. Dressy has a nice big trot, and she can go reasonably fast. But her forte is her steadiness. She goes out and trots fast and steady (12+ mph), and she can maintain that for a long time. But at 14-16mph the trot is much too extended. At 16mph she starts breaking to gallop, and definitely cannot maintain that for a long time. It takes way too much out of her.

I struggled with her quite a bit. I tried taking her back, but she’d decided that the big grey thoroughbred was her friend, and she wanted to catch him. She paced, and fought me, and kept catching up. So after the first ten miles when we went through the gate, I held back so they were long gone. But she power trotted until she caught them. If they’d maintained that 14-16mph speed, we never would have. But they were alternating between galloping fast and trotting slow. So overall she would have actually travelled faster… If I could have separated her from them. But there’s no way I could have passed, since I’m pretty sure those horses would have gone with her. I also find in the first few miles that Dressy can be very spooky in the lead. So I generally want her knowing there are horses ahead that she can focus on catching, instead of focusing on the monsters in the bushes.

At the 20 mile vet check, I held back and waited for Sue T. She’d lost her riding buddy (pulled) and wanted to ride with someone. That suited me, because she is a very experienced rider and rides a steady pace. Which is what Dressy needed to do as well. That loop was much better for Dressy. She was a little tired after all the shenanigans on the first two loops. But she trotted the whole thing without any issues. Chrystal and Grace passed us on that loop and Dressy went with her for quite a distance. But eventually we let her go, since her pace is a bit fast for Sue’s horse.

A look at my GPS track is quite enlightening. The first loop has radical up/down peaks from speeding up and slowing down. The second loop is steady and even through the first half (when we were alone and trotting) and then back to up/down peaks after we caught up again. Then the last loop is back to smooth steady trotting with Sue and her horse Trevor.

We did not make the target speed of 8mph. And in fact just missed the 7mph speed. Although my GPS shows a speed of 7.2mph. I was very pleased with her anyway. She had a good pulse at her final check, and easily reached parameter at the checks. Although we slowed down and let those three horses go ahead, Dressy still got 2nd place. So it paid off to manage her pace a little bit.

Chrystal’s horse, Grace won the Bronze level ride. By far. In fact Grace won the high score of the day… by miles. Her final pulse was 36. Chrystal took an extra long hold. Slowed her down as much as she could, and still finished in 6.99mph. The absolute maximum speed allowed for Bronze. If you watch that horse move, it doesn’t look like she’s working at all, and you can’t imagine that it’s fast. But try and follow on another horse and look at your gps…. Like a little streak of lightning, that mare.

Diego had a good ride. Placed third in the Set Speed, behind Wendy’s young horse Firefly. He looked good all day when I saw him. Although Misha always looked unhappy to see us… Diego had a meltdown every time he laid eyes on his boss mare. Tore up his (non-electrified) paddock at the mid-check when we went out just as he had come in. Had a hissy fit on the trail when we passed him going the other way on two way trail. Not pleasant for Misha that’s for sure.

However, after we loaded him in the trailer, Misha thought that he looked a little off colour. Wouldn’t take a treat from her hand. I loaded Dressy, gave her a cookie, and handed one to Diego. He didn’t take one from me either. We headed out, figuring that it was better just to get him home. The vet at that ride was Kathy, and she was going to stop by my place on her way home to look at King’s face (he still has a hard lump in his cheek where he was kicked). So we would have a vet available a few minutes after arriving at home anyway.

I stopped at Tim Horton’s to get an iced tea (I was desperately thirsty) and Misha checked on him again. By then he was shaking and sweating. She was quite alarmed, and we got right back on the road. She called Kathy, who was just a few minutes behind us. If you’re going to have a horse colic on a trailer, it sure feels better to have a vet right behind you.

We got him home and unloaded him. Stripped off the soaked cooler, and put him in a dry cooler and blanket. There was no manure in the trailer, so obviously he was a bit constipated. Misha walked him for a few minutes until Kathy got there. He had gut sounds but they were definitely reduced and gassy sounding. Kathy arrived, gave him some banamine, and got some mineral oil into him. It took about 45 minutes before he finally passed some manure. It was just a small amount and quite dry. But after that he got steadily better. This morning he’s his usual obnoxious self. Kathy said that there were a couple of other horses at the ride that were of concern too. She figured it was the colder weather bothering them. Diego is definitely a hot weather horse, so that makes sense.

Dressy of course, flourishes in the cold. She was bright-eyed and sassy while she tried to divert everyone’s attention away from Diego and onto her dietary needs. She wanted food, and she wanted as much of it as she could stuff into her greedy face.

Dressy At Summer’s End

Yesterday I took Dressy (and Diego as well) to Summer’s End Training Ride over in Bailieboro, Ontario, which is just on the edge of the Ganaraska Forest. It’s a very pretty area, with lots of hills.

In the morning we had the clinic portion. First Marg Murray and Marion Shearer gave an overview presentation of the different disciplines that OCTRA offers… Endurance, Competitive Trail, Ride n Tie, Set Speed, and Mileage rides. Each has slightly different rules, but the training is essentially the same for the horses. It’s the equivalent of human marathon training.  After Marg and Marion were finished, Dr Kathy Kivi talked about electrolytes and horse health.

Rose Danko gave an explanation of Set Speed rules. It’s a new discipline in OCTRA, and not well understood by most members. But basically it’s between 10 and 50 miles. A speed range is set, depending on competition level. Yesterday’s ride was between 4 and 7 mph. In a graded ride, the competitors are awarded grades depending on the combined score of pulse and speed. A low pulse and a high speed will give you the best grade. Grades are, from highest to lowest, 1, 2, 3, 4, or completion.

After Rose was done, I gave a quick demonstration of how to present your horse to the judges and what the horse health check is all about. I’m a lay judge when I’m not competing myself. Which means that I perform vet checks at competitions (under the supervision of the head veterinarian).

Finally, Julie Green gave a presentation on hoof care and booting. She’s an EasyCare distributor and her husband is a barefoot trimmer. There seemed to be lots of interest in the topic.

The weather was horribly hot. The temperature was 27 C, but humidity was 95%. It was just awful. Heat has always been a problem for Dressy, so that was not a good sign.

Dressy and I sponsored Solstice in the Ride n Tie. Her little mare was quite excited, so I ponied them out the first little bit of the loop until we got into the forest and she could tuck her in behind Dressy to keep her slowed down. She’s a cute little horse, but was a little bit boggled by all the excitement.

The little mare was not the only horse boggled… Diego threw a hissy fit when his boss mare left. I could hear Misha yelling at him as we disappeared into the trees. I heard later that his initial vet check was very out of control. Though I think he improved through the day.

Solstice and her dad won the ride n tie. The other team, Michelle and her daughter Cassandra, were right behind us. Dressy and I won a $10 Tim Horton’s gift certificate for sponsoring the winners, which was nice.

Dressy’s vet checks in the ride n tie were good. No problems. We went back out to do the 15 mile Set Speed ride shortly afterwards. We sponsored Laura, who was riding Sue Downing’s 19 year old Arab mare, Holly. (I just looked it up, and I think that Holly just got her 1000 miles yesterday!)

There were three 5 mile loops, with the option (since it was a training ride) to stop after any loop and take that mileage. Dressy did well on the first loop. Good heart rates. At the first check, she drank well and was absolutely starving. She vetted through fine. I tacked her back up (with some help from Julie – who was a big help to everyone at the checks) and led her over to let her drink and suddenly she started acting like she wanted to drop and roll. Immediately I had a total panic attack, thinking she must be colicky. Ripped the tack back off her and took her back over to the vet (jumping the line in the process). The vet checked her over, but couldn’t find anything wrong. She wasn’t trying to roll, and had gut sounds all around. The vet thought that maybe she’d had a bit of a gas bubble or something. So we tacked back up and went out again for our second 5 mile loop.

For the first couple of miles she seemed fine. Then I thought she seemed a little less forward. I checked her heart rate and found that it wasn’t registering on the watch. The monitor had shifted a bit under the girth and wasn’t reading. I reached down and tinkered with it and started getting some intermittent readings. None of them very good. Mostly up in the 140 to 160 range. They may or may not have been valid readings, but I was a bit worried. So I told Laura we needed to walk for a while. Eventually I got more reliable readings and she seemed to have dropped down to a more reasonable level. By the time we hit the end of that five miles, I thought that she might have stopped sweating, which really worried me. She felt extremely hot to the touch. So I figured we were probably done for the day.

At the check, she had a nice low pulse… 36. The judge noted that she was skipping heart beats, which is something she normally does, so of no concern. But she skipped for a bit longer than usual and several times during the 15 second count (she was trying to nap at the time). And when she trotted out for her CRI (cardiac recovery index), she woke up again. Second count was 14. Which is very very bad. The judge pointed out that it was just because she did not skip any beats on the second count, but Dressy has had enough 9/9 CRIs that I know there is no excuse for a 9/14. Her trot out was a bit wonky for a couple of steps, but the vet watched it on a second trot and decided that it was just a bit of toe-dragging and not a lameness. She got a completion. But probably only because I was not going on for another loop.  She was very hungry at that check too, and gobbled up every bit of food she could find. Drank well all day. Had lots of electrolytes.

I really think she was suffering from heat exhaustion. She has never done well when it was hot. And I think that the heat and humidity wiped her out. She was completely herself again within about half an hour. The vet checked her over once more and found nothing wrong. She had gut sounds all the way around all day. Came off the trailer at home looking good. Looks good today.

And, despite all the worry… she ended up taking a grade 1 in the 10 mile set speed ride. Her final pulse was 36 and average speed was 6mph. So by the numbers, she did really well.

I sent Laura back out for the third loop with Marg, and they did finish the 15 miles. Which gave Holly her long-awaited 1000 miles. Holly has been out of competition for a few years due to a very bad injury that Sue suffered. It was bad enough that she was told never to ride again, and so gave up riding Holly, who can be a bit of a handful (especially if there are cows in the vicinity!). Sue now rides the lovely and very quiet Foxy, who is one of my rehomed Standardbreds. This year, Holly has been ridden by a junior rider and has been creeping up on the 1000 mile mark. She sure was cheerful out on trail. You can tell that Holly just loves going down the trail. She looked like a five year old bouncing along out there.

Diego had an excellent day. He has no problems with heat. In fact he’s one of those crazy Arabs who gets cold if you put too much water on him. He did the 15 miles fast enough that he had to wait a while before the finish line so he didn’t get disqualified for finishing too fast. His final pulse was 40 and average speed was just under 7mph. So he got a grade 1 as well (in the 15 mile Set Speed).

Chrystal’s horse Grace finished her first ride too. She also got a grade 1 (Chrystal and Misha rode together… galloping like a pair of hooligans). Grace came off the Arab racetrack and her brain has been a bit of a problem. But Chrystal said she did well. No meltdowns. Of course that could be just because they went fast enough that brakes weren’t all that necessary 🙂

New Vet

I had a new vet in today to look at King. Doc Watt was going to come this week to test his selenium levels, but of course, that wasn’t possible. I called in a vet that I’ve used in the past, Dr. Potter. He’s very calm and takes his time, which is nice. He had a really good look at King. Checked him over, watched him trot, listened to our tale of woe, etc. King has actually seemed a bit worse over the last couple of weeks, not better. So I’ve been worried. Dr. Potter is going to run a full blood panel, check the selenium, and also do a thyroid test. He has some other ideas for things to check out if the blood work doesn’t show anything. So at least I feel like we are doing something anyway.

I’ve started riding Dressy. I’ll take her to the training ride next week and do the 15 mile set speed ride. Then to Seoul’s Corners and we can do the 25 miles there. I guess I’m going to have to sort out booting issues for her too.

Ares had another session of lunging today. This time with the saddle on. He was very good, but I could see that he was a little weirded out by the feel of the saddle. He was a bit more inverted, and his gait got a little choppy as a result. But after a few minutes he gradually relaxed and dropped his head some. As soon as that head comes down, he smooths right out.

After we were done, I brought him back in the barn and got up on a stool beside him. Flapped around the saddle, rested my arm across him, flopped the stirrups around, pushed and pulled sideways, etc. He was watching me pretty carefully, but he stood like a rock. He really is a nice little soul once he gets over thinking that I’m prepping him for my next meal.

 

Ares’ Second Training Session

I’ve put up a video of Ares from yesterday’s lunging session. As you can see, he’s rushing a little bit. But he is a nice mover. Fast and flowing. He settled down after a few minutes and was very responsive to my voice.

Ares First Lesson

Well. Just.. Wow.

I’ve been a little concerned about Ares and whether he might be difficult to work with. He’s a little on the worried, timid side, and I’m used to my big brash horses (I do tend to pick that sort of horse for myself… high, wide, and handsome). Ares is a cautious horse. Very shy with strangers. So I’ve put off working with him for a few weeks to let him settle in.

Tonight I cleaned him up and tacked him up in a surcingle and bridle and took him out to teach him to lunge. He was obviously a bit panicky at first, and very rushy (as an aside, he burst into a quite credible canter several times – which bodes well for his ability to canter under saddle). He was very worried about what I was asking for. But does he ever respond well to praise and encouragement. Tell him he’s a good boy and you can see him settle instantly. I managed to get him settled enough to put side reins on him (albeit quite loosely). And took this little short video clip of him trotting. He went from panic to pro (well okay, not quite “pro”, but pretty good anyway!) in about 10 minutes. I am feeling much more confident in this boy after this session. I think he’s going to make a very nice, and extremely responsive horse for the right person.

I put the measuring stick on him and he’s just barely 15hh. So he’s not a big horse. Though he moves quite big as most Standardbreds do. He looked pretty smooth to me, though it’s hard to tell just watching.

Check out the video…

 

Gotta Love a Smart Horse

King felt really good today. We did a short six mile ride around the home trails, and he was strong and forward the whole time. Much more like his old self.

And I have to say, sometimes I really REALLY appreciate my horse. While King can be quite an obnoxious demon when it strikes his fancy, he is unusually reliable in a crisis. Today, I made a major navigation error. Going into an overgrown forest trail from an open field, I had my sunglasses on, and didn’t see that I was going into the wrong spot. There was an old page wire fence falling down, and we walked straight into it. King fell right down on his face, and had both front legs caught up in it. He jumped up, with me yelling “WHOA! Stand!”. And bless his soul…. he stood. I kept repeating myself, and he cocked his head sideways and looked down at the fence while carefully extracting one foot at a time. Then he took one step back from the wire and stood waiting for me to tell him what to do next. We backed up and carefully turned back to the field. I had a quick look and saw a number of very small cuts, but nothing that looked too dangerous. His sweat must have made them all sting though, because he kept stopping all the way home to rub at them with his nose. And he sure enjoyed his bath when we got back. I think it must have felt good to get the salt washed out of the cuts. He looks fine. None of the cuts are punctures. Just shallow cuts that had pretty much stopped bleeding withing a couple of minutes. And I don’t see any swelling coming up so far.

I love a smart horse. And I especially love MY smart horse! Too bad I’m not as smart as he is 🙂

 

 

 

 

Long Slow Ride

I took King out today for a long slow ride. I was feeling pretty down actually. There’s been another death in my family. This one was an accident… lightning strike. So the news was quite a shock. It felt sort of weird to go out riding. But at least it was a good way to be alone with my thoughts for a while.

We went down to the Jefferson Forest and poked around those trails for a while. And on the way back I did a little exploring to find some trail that kept us off the roadside for about a quarter mile. I really hate riding along the road. It’s so close to Toronto, and the drivers are all so clueless about horses. Sometimes big truck mirrors go whipping past about a foot from my shoulder. All it would take is for a bird to flap up in front of him, or a bit of garbage to spook him, and I could have a very close encounter with either the mirror or the whole damn truck. So the less I’m on roads the better I like it.

We did a little over 12 miles. He didn’t have any cramps, though we did go slow. But I’m cautiously hopeful that he’s improving.