I went cross country--but I'll count it as a "trail" ride!
I took Mr. Big out solo today. Only the second time I've taken him solo outside the pasture, I think. Maybe the third. The weather has been so crummy we just haven't gotten out much. The Mrs. and I went out for a bit a couple days ago but that's it for over a week.
Today it was sunny, warmer, and no wind! The snow was almost belly deep in places--and only a few inches in others. Probably averaged about knee deep on Mr. Big.
He was REALLY fractious for the first 10 or 15 minutes then he settled down real nice. I think he was a bit barn sour to start--guess I'll have to take him out solo more often to get him over that. Tough medicine!
I also realized I was reining poorly. Not enough back pressure on the outside rein. Once I got that figured out he also behaved a lot better. In fact, he became REALLY easy to direct! I suspect I've been doing it wrong all along. Sigh.
I also tried two new things on this ride (neither of which I probably should have done riding solo. Hmmmm). 1) I lowered the left stirrup so I could mount more easily and then was able to raise it back up from the saddle (wasn't sure I could get to the buckle to raise it back up) and 2) I carried a small quirt and smacked him when he tried to feed. He tried about three times was all and then gave it up. Best behaved he's been about feeding since I got him. Gonna have to carry the little stwitch all the time!
Anyway, we had a GREAT ride, got to see some area we'd not seen before (all within a mile of home), and had a great "play in the snow" event!
And it's supposed to be snowing the rest of the week so I'm not sure I'll get out again for awhile. Sigh.
How do you keep the snow from balling up in your horse's feet? I would love to ride in the snow (when we have it, rarely) but when I did it before my horse was riding on iceglobs. I had applied vaseline, but to no avail.
Thank you for the descriptive ride. It seems most horses go better with a stick in view. Where are you living/riding, if I might ask?
I live just outside Moscow, Idaho. Looks like we'll have plenty of snow this year. Which is fun--for awhile! OK, it's getting old already. Sigh.
Anyway, I don't worry about Mr. Big walking on ice/snow "stilts." He walks on them all the time when he's out in the pasture--or even in the corral, right now. I clean his feet good before we go out (always!) and make sure there's no rocks or anything. I also make sure there's no packed in mud as I figure snow will stick to that easier. Other than that, I ignor the problem. He's a horse. Horses have been living in snow for years. I figure they can deal with it.
From the For What It's Worth column, we do barefoot trim here. I think they ice up less than they would with shoes on--but I don't have anything to compare it to. It's just that his feet were a LOT harder to clean before rides before we pulled his shoes off--rocks and mud REALLY caked in! Now there's almost no rocks nor mud, just a bit in the crevasses along his frogs. Makes him a lot easier to get ride ready! :-)
Glad you had a good ride and that the stirrup thing is working for you guys!! I think it is nice to get out alone every now and then. It helps you and your horse to learn each other without the distraction of other horses or people. Just ALWAYS make sure that people know that you're riding in a specific area, and what time you're leaving and an approximate time that you'll be back. That way if something were to happen, they would know where to start the search.
Congrats...and be safe!!!!!!!
Charlicata, Safety is my middle name! But it never hurts to be reminded! Even on a short ride like that, right in the "neighborhood" I made sure my house mate knew more or less where I was going. And I carry a cell phone which will work from the hilltops only.
It's more of an issue when we go out into the National Forest since we don't/can't always park where we told people we'd be parked. But we still do our best to insure SOMEONE knows where to start looking if we are exceptionally late.
One of the things I need to do is get my amature radio handi-talky programed with all the local repeaters. Not only does it make for an additional way to call out in an emergency, but it'd be fun to go on the air as "Equine Mobile!"
Another safety tool that I'd highly recommend to anyone who rides in the backcountry, especially, but pretty much anywhere is a "Spot" emergency locator. I carry one all the time when I'm out. I think the website is FindMeSpot.com. It is a pocket size unit that has a GPS receiver and a satlite communications transmitter built in. In an emergency you can send a satlite message with your GPS coordinates embedded in the message. The person who receives the message will also get a link to GoogleMap showing your precise location. Three messages can be sent: I'm OK, Please send help, and 911 emergency is triggered with the third message.
If I'm sounding like a commercial, I appologize. I just think that it's a great little tool for getting out the word if there is an emergency. I originally got it for when I was riding ATV Trail Patrol in Wisconsin. If I came on an accident (or had one myself) it was often the only device I had that would be able to call in help. Thankfully, I've never needed it!
But I also use it to send "I'm OK" messages just to let friends and family know where I'm riding. And, since I also have the message sent to my own email, after the ride I can check out where I went on GoogleMap. It's kind of fun!
Just got back from roughly the same ride I took earlier in the week. Except we went further and the snow was deeper, wetter, and a LOT heavier. Mr. Big had to work at times with snow just about up to his belly. He did GREAT!
He was also pretty fractious for the first part of the ride, again. I'm wondering if he's a bit barn sour and what I can do about it. He'll go where I tell him to go, but he doesn't want to--and let's me know it. Eventually he settles down but the first third of the ride, or so, was a struggle.
Is taking him out fairly regularly, going a bit further each time, a reasonable way to cure him? If "cure" is the right word? He's not REAL bad, but it is kind of a pain.
Hopefully this weekend we load up the trailer and take the horses to a real trail! I gotta call the state park and see how much snow they have--probably a lot less than here!
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