I have made good progress with both Dee and Starlight, and have had some nice, mellow rides on Hudson as well in the past few days.
My chunky black-and-white pony is putting the “star” in Starlight, continuing to rise to the challenges I offer. For instance, yesterday we rode all the way up to the 12-acre field at the top of our property. The only time she worried me a tad was at the start, when a pile of cut brush by the pond sent her into a panic and she tried a bolt. It was only a couple of steps at the beginning of the ride, and within a few seconds, we had made our way around the brush and were on our way.
|Starlight munching hay after being in the pasture all night.|
We crossed dry creek beds and muddy areas. I thought she might have a bit of a meltdown when I first asked her to cross running water that was edged by soft mud, so I jumped off and we both stepped over it. Back up in the saddle, we rode up a tree-lined path, up a couple of steep hills, and into the field.
I don’t miss a tall horse on rides when I have to mount from the ground.
A surprised deer ran in front of is, interesting Starlight greatly. They are so fast and silent. She kept her eye out for it, but did everything I asked while we were in the field. She had to figure out how to carry me back down those steep, wood-lined, leaf-covered paths. She also took me back over that running water without a pause, making me glad I had boosted her confidence by leading her the first time.
She was thinking about the obstacles presented calmly, a smart, cooperative green horse, understanding the questions and delivering well-thought answers. I really like this mare.
|Ahh! That's the spot! (Dee).|
With Dee, the one who tossed me off recently, I am back to basics. I decided to ground drive her in a broader area to test her attitude about leaving the others, before I get back on. Said attitude has proven to be less than stellar.
The other day, I was driving her around the bottom of the pasture when I noticed a horse fly on her belly. I tried to gently remove it with my whip, and she took the moment of my distraction to turn around. Before I could get her back under control, she took off to the barn at a gallop.
I was only dragged a few feet before I was clever enough to let go of the lines. I was torqued, though, and scolded her soundly when I finally got back up to the barn. She didn’t get away with it again. See if I try to help her with a biting fly next time! I’m not taking my focus off her for one second.
Last night she and I traced the same path that I had just ridden with Starlight. We ground-drove a trail ride!
She had her moments of resistance, trying to turn around at several opportunities. During one of these times, we managed to get the line caught under her tail, at which point she clamped her tail down tighter than a vice. Knowing this had the potential for disaster, I had to figure out how to get the rein out of there without actually causing that very disaster and also avoiding a kick, for monkeying around an agitated mare’s privates. We figured it out and went on our way.
The only other time I was worried was when walking behind her down that steep, leaf-covered path. My field boots have no traction, of course, and one false step on her part would have landed me on my face again. I hadn’t thought about that on the way up! Fortunately, we managed to avoid calamity, thanks to her reasonably good behavior.
She is a different horse from Starlight, for sure. They are the same height, last I checked, around 14.1, but Starlight is very much like the older type of quarter horses, with big muscles, a broad chest and big, powerful “engine” (her butt). She takes short, careful strides.
Dee has a smaller build, but is still a solid mare. You don’t feel like there’s nothing under you when you’re on her (unless she just threw you in the air). With her sloping shoulder, she takes a long, athletic stride. If I can get her to understand the rules, she’ll be a great cross-country horse.
To me, this is what long, June days are for. I'll store these memories to help get me through February.