This morning was my first solo ride away from home with Desire, as my riding buddy had other plans and I was curious to see how we would do alone. I do so much of my riding alone and am used to Blaze who merrily goes anywhere by himself. It was a beautiful bright sunny morning and a Sunday, so I knew there would be plenty of trailers at the somewhat limited parking lot and we needed to get out there and claim a spot! It was a very chilly morning but I fed early and was ready to GO. Desire was FIRED UP when I pulled her from her paddock again, she really seems to have anxiety about the grooming process, or maybe its just uncertainty on where she is going next since I have just started trailering her out in the last few weeks. She literally tap danced, muscles quivering, in the cross ties and seemed pretty disturbed by Sheza galloping around screaming at her. That sounds like a “well duh” comment but in the past she hasn’t seemed very keyed in on Sheza in her anxiety. Today she was definitely trying to look over the solid partition to see what the heck her baby was doing. And to be fair, Sheza was acting a complete fool. She has discovered the joy of bucking in the last few days and is in bronc mode about half the day, sleeping the other half. LOL. If raising your first kid is anywhere near as alarming and surprising as raising an Arabian filly, I’m really glad I don’t want kids too!
Anyhoo, Desire popped into the trailer in no time at all, which was great. I literally just showed her the dressage whip and she went from “let’s play games!” to “let’s ride in the trailer!” Oh, and no, I didn’t beat her with it last time, but I did give her a tap on the rump and that is what ended the stalemate and got her in. So this time I gave her a chance to load politely, then when she started to swing her butt around and start the shenanigans, I showed her the whip and in she went. We cruised the 20 minutes to the lake; there were 2 trailers there when I pulled in and 3 more drove in as I was tacking up. There’s a real bathroom at that trail head (yay!) so I started across the parking lot to use it before we headed out and I heard Desire whinny, then as I turned to watch she leaned back, popped the tie line, and came trotting over to me like “Don’t leave meee!” While breaking free is of course terrible behavior, I had to laugh. There were other horses tied at the trailers and green grass everywhere but all she wanted was to follow me and not be left behind! It warmed my heart, even as I admonished her and returned her to the trailer. Upon examining the trailer tie she had been attached to I don’t think it was sound to begin with, after being used and sitting out in the heat all summer. The sun really destroys stuff here and when I examined both ends of the tie it seemed frayed and I saw at the time that Desire barely had to pull to pop it in half. So A) I should examine what I tie with more regularly and closely and B)Its kind of a good thing as it broke away and didn’t cause any damage to her or anything else, right? That’s what I’m telling myself anyway. I re-tied her to the trailer with her lead rope and then cautiously inched toward the bathroom. She had never pulled back like that before and it wasn’t a panicked thing but I wanted to be sure she didn’t automatically repeat the behavior since she got what she wanted by me retrieving her and going back to the trailer with her. She watched me go but didn’t move a muscle and when I peeked out of the bathroom she was standing quietly at the trailer, though watching the bathroom closely. I gave Desire a ghetto scissor bridle path last week and today she didn’t do her weird head flick that she has been doing when I pull the bridle over her right ear. I think I might have been accidentally pulling her copious amounts of hair when I was doing it and ticking her off, because with the bridle path she didn’t even flick an ear at the bridle going on. Her mane and forelock are just everywhere and hard to sort out one from the other so the little clipped space definitely helps! There were horses being tacked up and more trailers pulling in so I decided we better jam out of there before it became a real circus, especially since we had to head off on our own.
We headed up out of the parking lot away from all the other horses and Desire was nice and forward though another funny moment was when a horse whinnied and she instantly, almost automatically, turned halfway around to head back before I even realized what she was doing. I encouraged her on and it was smooth sailing from there. Endless barking dogs, lots of scary wood and rocks, she took it all in her stride today. I would say she was less spooky today alone than last time I rode with N. Then again, it was her third time out on the trail so maybe she was just more comfortable with it. But less spooky while alone=Winning! We took the same route N and I took last time, for a total of 10.5 miles in 2 hours today vs. 12 miles in 3 1/2 hours the other day. We just cruised at her handy little jog most of the time, walked the long downhill, and had a fun little canter on the one safe straightaway.
I walked her the last half mile in and there was a total of 12 horse trailers stuffed into the parking lot by then! Glad I got there when I did, and glad I parked facing out as I’ve been boxed into some very small spaces there with trailer crowds in the past. Since I won’t be using a panel saddle again I’ve been using my fleecey numnahs from my old saddle to rub Desire down when we get back to the trailer all sweaty. Since I can’t realistically bathe her in the cold and she is a horrendous mess after riding, I wipe her down with the fleecey pads first, then try to brush and fluff her hair, and always throw the polar fleece cooler on her for the trailer ride home since my trailer isn’t exactly air tight. She didn’t want to load without a glance at the dressage whip but she still hopped inside in less than a minute. I stopped at the market for something to drink and the very nice Indian owner who always queries me about horses wanted to come out and see her so I opened the “head door” (for lack of something better to call it..manger door I guess? I dunno) and we admired her for a few minutes, then I cruised slowly home. She got a warm EGM pellet mash when we got home which she dived into enthusiastically.
Every time I ride her I am more happy with her gaits and attitude. There is no wondering IS she an endurance horse, she just clearly is. She travels effortlessly, hasn’t tired yet (in our admittedly limited miles, but not bad for coming back from a baby), drinks at every opportunity, drops her head to graze if I stop her, and consistently poops and pees under saddle. She is happy to go and LOVES to eat just about anything. I am pretty much in love with her and really wish she was 5 or 6 instead of 15! But we will still have lots of fun in the years to come. I’m really excited for our first 50 now instead of excited/worried because I know that with proper conditioning she can handle it and will take care of herself. I’ll still do an LD on her first just to acclimate to her in race settings, but hopefully by May or so we’ll choose a 50 to do!
Oh! Almost forgot the ironic part of the story. So, 12 horse trailers in the parking lot, 2 more parked down below, for a total of 14 trailers. 1 of those trailer owners took the trails north up and over past the dam. 13 trailer owners took the horse camp loop to the east. It is SO funny to me that everyone goes on the short little loop around horse camp and we’ve got almost 20 miles of other trails to use! I guess really its a good thing, since I almost always get those trails to myself. But still. The horse camp loop has picnic tables and a porta-potty halfway through (so like…2.5 miles in) and I guess most of the weekend traffic are, well, weekend warriors. Its just so funny to see a parking lot stuffed with rigs but not see a single horse out on the trails I went on. They must have had quite a traffic jam on the horse camp loop today!