Jan 11, 2012

I’d like to re-clarify for those following or reading my blog that this is basically a replacement for my handwritten training journal. I used to keep a hardcover training/riding journal so I could flip back and see where I’ve been and what I’ve been working on, but I decided to journal in a blog instead.  My “new” horse is young and green and for the first time in 15 years or more I’m putting some training on a youngster. When I first started agility (with my Cattle Dog) I learned to break things down into steps and I kept a training journal so I could follow our progress and note any ‘sticky’ spots. I also do this now with my other ACD, who herds. So I thought, why not do a training/riding journal for my horse? It’s also a nifty way to keep track of what I’m doing and log the time and distance we ride each month. With that said, the majority of my posts (here) will be dated the day prior since I don’t always get time to sit down and write directly after I train or ride. On days when it’s too cold or wet to ride I may come here and ramble a bit on the same day, but for the most part I suspect my entries will be dated the day prior.

Today I didn’t have enough free time to get Dharla back down to the arena to work on ground exercises. I had to use the morning to run a bunch of errands and get a few things done. The weather is predicted to take a nasty turn tonight (rain and/or wet snow) and I desperately needed dog and people food. Not my favorite chore, but necessary to say the least. I’ve had Hazer on a grain-free diet the last few weeks and he seems to be doing pretty well. I don’t want to run so low on his food that I have to default to Neena’s kibble, which isn’t grain-free. I hate being inconsistent, but there will be days where I can’t do any groundwork with Dharla and today was one of those days.

My friend (LM) and I had plans to ride if she could squeak away from her farm for a few hours. On an up note, she had workers at her farm who were installing the “guts” to her new barn. Well, the barn is old, but the stalls and stall doors are all new. It’s going to be so nice when it’s done. She’s in the process of horse-hunting so now she can rest easy if she finds something. (More about that search later.) I wasn’t expecting she’d have the chance to break away to ride, but she pulled in at 1:30 and was ready to go. I’d given the horses more hay a bit earlier, but hadn’t brushed them, so we had our work cut out for us.

*

After getting the Lumber Wagon brushed we tacked up and headed out. I decided it was a good day to start out on a woodsy trail rather than (once again) ride the Airline Trail, which is more open. If we start on the AL trail we don’t get very far before we encounter the rock ledges where the icicles are. Knowing my horse still has a bit of a “thing” about icicles, I thought maybe it would be nice to begin our ride with something different for a change.  I’ve been limited to riding the AL trail for over two months because of hunting season. That’s over now, but it won’t be long before the footing gets too slippery to navigate the hilly terrain. So I decided we’d start our ride there, then circle back to the AL trail and finish up with that.

Dharla led. That’s not really her forte yet, but I want her to get used to leading and following on the trail. She started out hesitant and a bit spooky over just about anything; boulders, logs, rustling leaves … basic woods stuff. Sheesh. I just try to stay relaxed and patient, but none of this stuff is new to her anymore. I’m fairly convinced she’s just making things up in her mind to see if I’m going to let her wimp out and relinquish the lead. (Nope) After about ten minutes she settled down and walked along like she does this every day. Yay! We crossed several streams, most that were surrounded by wide boggy, rutted areas. On the up side, this is something I’ve worked very hard to get Dharla to accept and she did great. Unfortunately, mountain bikers have made a general rutty mess of every stream we cross and in several places they have laid large flat rocks so they’ll have a smoother place to cross. This pisses me off to no end and come spring I’ll be out there throwing the rocks back into the woods. They’re only thinking of themselves when they do this and it makes it anywhere from difficult to downright dangerous for equine trail users …. who have been out there forging and using the trails they are now riding decades before mountain biking came on the scene.  I thought the whole point of mountain biking was to experience trails in their natural state? Weenies.

Anywho, the woods part of the ride went very well and it was nice to ride something different for a change! I think Dharla thought so too! Eventually we picked a path back that led back down to the AL trail and continued our ride there. We turned around to head for home slightly short of my usual turning point. The wind was picking up, the temp dropping and I was starting to get that bone-chilled feeling. We got back home as it was starting to get dark and I could hardly feel my toes. At least we got out again though. I’m afraid the forecast doesn’t look very good for the next several days. Pfffffft. Winter. (<— rolls eyes)

Time: Approx 2.5 hrs.

Distance: Approx 6.5 miles

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