Good Practice

There were a few unexpected moments today on our ride but in the end it was all just darn good practice. We met C and her gelding at the lake this morning around 10; thanks to treating thrush, switching the saddle fitting cushions and accessories from Blaze’s to Desire’s, and just general disorganization on my part I was almost 20 minutes late but good ole C was there ready and waiting when we pulled in and only slightly concerned that something had gone wrong on my end. I try to never be late as a rule but I guess it happens once in a while.

We headed out over the ridge and down past the dam for a longer ride. C’s gelding is a big athletic guy and has been getting more confident with leading so we switched off playing leader for the ride, and in so doing discovered some real snotty race mare attitude in miss Desire. C’s guy moved right out at a nice trot as the leader and Desire was readyreadyready to tailgate–no wait, better yet, pass! Aurora was readyreadyready to not get kicked in the face, or race, or cause C and her guy any problems, go figure. As soon as I got more contact on the reins and asked Desire to listen, the ears went back and her slick little head snap started, you know that agile little flick some Arabs can do that flip the reins over one or both ears before you can even blink? Yeah, that one. Luckily the reins didn’t go anywhere but it’s a very snotty head action. I’ve actually been meaning to put my (handily matching) martingale on her loosely to keep the reins from going totally when she does that, but hadn’t gotten around to it. As C trotted on at a steady pace, Desire wanted to canter and as I corrected her back to a trot she just got slower and crankier, and I felt her back humping–do you ever wish at these moments you could get through to your horse with the amazing logic that actually trotting normally like I ask will get you down the trail and with your buddy in fact much quicker than canter/prance/bucking almost in place?! I DO. It’s maddening because it’s pointless behavior AND counterproductive. She’s pitching a fit, I’m annoyed and dealing with it, and we’re getting farther and farther behind. Silly! Luckily C was great about waiting for us and checking that everything was kosher; she takes on quite a few horsey challenges and has been there done that on all this stuff with just her current gelding. We had a couple of moments where Desire took advantage of puddle crossings and the like to launch her momentum forward and try a little bucking/prance fit, but she never got far with it. I love how you can feel everything the horse is even thinking of doing riding in the Specialized, there is great contact and the second she started hunching her back I felt it and was ready. 
We decided to turn around at about 6.5 miles out, since I’m still technically in testing mode with my saddle fit and the new issue of mild boot rubs. On the way back home there’s a shortcut up a steep hill that I’d never been on before so we pointed the horses up it and had a bit of a blast off which was loads of fun, actually the fastest I’ve gotten to go on Desire to this point, though it was up such a steep hill that the speed launch didn’t last too long! We connected back to the trail, crossed the road twice (clop clop listen to your horse’s hooves!), and were almost back up to the top of the ridge and water trough when C suddenly noticed my right front boot was gone. Not hanging from the gaiter but gone. Weeelll shit. I’d never lost a boot before and had to combat an overwhelming feeling of screw it. No no, it’s a $50 boot, be good, go back and look. So we did, and just as we figured, the boot had been left on the steep uphill, site of the galloping blast off. The bizarre thing was the boot had come off with the gaiter still fully Velcro-ed. Like she went so hard up that hill she plumb ran right out of her boot! Or something. Very weird, but very nice to find the boot and gaiter intact and ready to be popped back on. Remember how I said “clop clop listen to your horse’s hooves!” a few sentences back? Well yeah, turns out I’d crossed the road twice and not noticed the difference with 3 booted hooves and 1 un-booted hitting the pavement. D’oh. It was really only about a mile of backtracking and in the end it was good practice making the horses turn around and head back out when they were sure they were destined for the trailer. And a good reminder for me to pay better attention to my boots. Oh yeah and put the Power Strap on the right front boot like I’ve been meaning to for the last 3 rides..
We made it back to the trailer having gone exactly 15 miles in 3 hrs and 45 minutes. I changed the shimming on my Specialized slightly from last time I used it on Desire. Today I put one of the thinnest flat shims on each side of the underside, for more support where the stirrup leathers run and press hard against the fitting cushion. Miss D got well and truly sweaty today and her saddle sweat marks were completely even, no evidence of dry points at the shoulder or that rubbed up hair at the spot where the stirrup leathers run like last time and no back sensitivity at all, which was awesome.
There was evidence of little gaiter rubs on Desire’s front fetlocks again, and it looks like the right front hoof is getting a nasty little heel bulb rub on the inside. I half-assedly applied Cowboy Magic to her legs this morning per another rider’s advice but didn’t think to go as high with it as the gaiters went (Um Duh, not sure why not). Cowboy Magic on the legs and baby powder in the boots is the theory on rub prevention there. The right front boot is sitting looser and does need the Power Strap for sure now, hopefully snugging that boot up some with that will lessen the heel rub since that seems to be the only boot doing it. This season is definitely going to be a much bigger challenge than last, as Desire is a much stronger, fitter, and hotter horse than Blaze and has some skin sensitivity issues that Blaze never threw my way, as well as this being my first season booting and in a new saddle. I’m really looking forward to it–but am also really glad and grateful that I got to have such a fun successful season of LDs with Blaze last year, and got to know the races and trails and some people to talk to at camp.
 Oh almost forgot, C tried to ride up alongside me at a wider part in the trail just before we got back to the trailers and Desire did one of those crazy mare squeal/moans and pinned her ears, swished her tail! It happened so quickly and unexpectedly, what a bitch!  What do people think, should I put a red ribbon in her tail at rides for safety’s sake? Maybe overkill, I dunno, but I’d hate for it to not be there and have her get crowded and do something nasty. She certainly won’t get away with it and it shouldn’t be too big a problem in the long term but I’m a better-safe-than-sorry kind of person. I’d be interested to hear people’s opinions on whether to use a red ribbon or not.
I’ve got a Kimberwick and a polar fleece cooler in her size ordered up, should both be here by Saturday hopefully. She went in a Kimberwick at Global and I can tell the little snaffle I have on her is probably going to be laughable to use at races. She almost fit into Blaze’s cooler but not quite and shoot, she deserves her own, right?
Only 6 weeks til Rides of March!
No ride photos today, but here is Sheza sharing dinner with her goats. Unfortunately the photo of her lying down with her goats this evening was too dark and didn’t come time..

4 thoughts on “Good Practice

  1. Desire isn't a bitch, she is just competitive and doesn't want C in front of her. She thinks he inferior, LOL. All the pico haat shaat horses are like that. Pico Nightlight @ 15.3 hds would grind her teeth and bare her teeth at anyone trying to pass. I don't think she ever kicked because a 10 yr old was riding her. You're going to have to go with her at the race for the 1st half. Don't try and ride her in the back you'll just piss her off and not have a good ride. She knows and loves her job. We need to talk rid strategy before the ride, because i want you to have a blast and not get frustrated from fighting her. kimberwick is perfect for the start w/a martingale. The head flipping is just mare talk and she's happy trying to tell you she knows what shes doing. Mares are different. I love riding sassy competitive opinionated fit mares, they just get down to work & want to kick ass. I had to learn to work with them not against them. You'll kick butt the 1st race and have a blast! :))

  2. Thanks Dian! I appreciate the insight and advice. C and I were just talking yesterday about how I'm realistically going to just be need to be ready for her GO at a race, rather than trying to fight her back and try to go slow.

    I'm beginning to understand competitive and don't plan to hold her back from possible successes, but won't be having any bucking or temper tantrums. I didn't think she would necessarily truly kick, I don't think she even kicked out yesterday, but I'm the type to worry worry especially when it might impact other's in a possibly very negative way..the head flipping yesterday was very clearly “STFU And let me pass this mtherfker!” LOL

    I'd be very interested to hear your advice on ride strategy with her.

  3. Go with what Dian suggests, cause she actually knows the mare, but if my mare was being squealing headflipping bitchy and got hoppy when a horse approached, I'd put a ribbon in for the first competition at least! You'll know after ROM whether she's just expressing herself or whether she really might kick, but I think I'd go better safe than sorry for that first ride.

    Good luck on the rubs! The only good thing about having such a thick-skinned horse is that nothing ever rubs her. 🙂

  4. Dian certainly knows the horse and what she's talking about. Just make sure you're riding her long enough and hard enough that her body will be able to cash the check her competitive nature and brain will want to write. YOU know what she's been doing lately. Make sure you have the tools you need to ride her how you feel is safest for all involved, especially Ms. D herself. =)

    For the heel rub, check the height of her heels. Dig used to get heel rubs from the gaiters, until I brought the entire height of his hoof down a tad, and wha-la, no more gaiter rubs on the heels.

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