Why I Gotta Trot - Page 287 - The Horse Forum
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post #2861 of 3052 Old 04-28-2019, 04:11 PM
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Our wild animals are not nearly as gentle as yours. I wonder if it is because we have hunting seasons... today while we were pushing cows a herd of antelope trotted by. I love watching them. Last week another herd stood curious (at a much further distance than your elk of course) while we were mothering up, and I watched one occasionally try and get a closer look.

What I loved today was all of the birds. Meadow larks sang us songs while we were mothering up in the first spot (Iíll show you a picture), then there were flicks of geese flying overhead a couple different times and a group of blackbirds that flew around as a school of fish in the ocean.
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Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you? - Balaamís Donkey
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post #2862 of 3052 Old 04-28-2019, 07:53 PM Thread Starter
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@Knave , so beautiful! How long will the snow stay on the mountains?
We have hunting seasons here too. But still these few elk herds along the north coast have their habitat completely around homes and neighborhoods. They are desensitized to cars and people (so get hit by cars frequently). Since they don't leave to go up in the woods, they mostly are only hunted by those who have tags to take elk on their own property.

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How do they come into the field? Over the fence? Through the strands?
They hop over the fences. The horse fences are low enough they don't break them and they know they are electric. There are some wood post and rail fences on the property they break once in awhile because they get lazy and don't jump high enough. People who put in higher fences have issues with getting them broken all the time. Our neighbors have some hedges they wanted to grow together but the elk walk through the gaps and break the branches off so they won't grow into a solid hedge.

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Also, since I have mud and sogginess on the brain, in your climate, does your field look this beautiful all winter and spring? Have you had to add drainage around the fields so water doesn't pool in it, or something else? The water table is so high here right now that walking on our front yard is like walking on saturated sponges; the water is just sitting on top of the ground since everything is so soaked. So you can only imagine how the horse's sacrifice lot and pasture is handling it...
On the west side of the highway, there were only sand dunes back when my dad was young (he's 83). Plants were brought in to stabilize the dunes, and eventually houses were built all over and even pastures were put in. So the pastures are completely on sand. They drain well, except in very wet years there will be puddles in the low spots. There is more concern for erosion, because too much traffic will turn them back into sand.

They stay green, but the grass gets very low over the winter and by this time of year is very short, just green cover. In May and June the grass will grow a lot and get longer.

Everywhere else in this climate, the soil is more clay based. So mud is a concern at most barns since most are not on the small area west of the highway, which is also where the most expensive property is, since it's closest to the ocean. The huge acreage my barn is on has been in the owner's family for at least 80 years and it must be worth an unbelievable amount of money.

In the rest of the area, most people have to divide their pastures into multiple areas to rotate so they don't turn into mud, and some people have smaller corrals where they put down geo-textile and pea gravel or sand to keep the horses in during the wettest weather. One barn I know of has a huge indoor arena for turnout, so the horses are in a covered pen with hay during the winter.
Many pastures are also on steep hills for drainage, so there is not the issue with the boggy ground.

At our last barn, part of the pasture turned into a swamp. I had to have Amore moved into another pasture, because most of the horses would avoid the swamp but Amore would wade in up to her shoulders and think it was great she didn't even have to put her head down to eat the marsh grass. She was like a moose. But her legs couldn't handle being bathed in mud for hours and she got scratches/rot.
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post #2863 of 3052 Old 04-29-2019, 12:56 AM
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@gottatrot , Hero is looking fantastic - great muscling and muscle definition, weight spot on, shiny, bright - it's lovely to see a horse in great condition!

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post #2864 of 3052 Old 04-29-2019, 06:14 AM
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Thank you Gotta. The snow will be there into the beginning of the summer. I know a patch is usually left on the 4th of July, because I remember there was a bet about it, and one of the men in the bet explained to me that he knew he would win it because almost every year he would look up on the 4th and see the snowpatch, but within a couple days it was always gone.

Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you? - Balaamís Donkey
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post #2865 of 3052 Old 04-29-2019, 08:56 AM
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@gottatrot , how fascinating that the land and how it functions is so different in each place. It's wonderful your BO has been able to keep the property going as farmland- it's so hard to resist development pressures, particularly in a place like where you live! I loved the image of wallowing Amore. Our pasture isn't quite that bad, but I am impatiently waiting for things to be dry enough that we can get machinery in to lay down the geotextile and new, better draining footing.

@Knave , I am loving all the birds around too! The turkeys are out in large flocks with hopeful toms trailing the hens around.


I've also seen grouse out in the open a few times in the last couple of weeks, which is sort of unusual. And of course, waking up to the sound of songbirds is such a treat after a long winter!
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post #2866 of 3052 Old 04-30-2019, 05:08 AM Thread Starter
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@egrogan , those turkeys are so interesting. We don't have wild turkeys around here for some reason. I've read that Ben Franklin thought the turkey was more courageous and a better role model for people than the bald eagle, which scavanges and steals from other birds.

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@gottatrot , Hero is looking fantastic - great muscling and muscle definition, weight spot on, shiny, bright - it's lovely to see a horse in great condition!
Thank you, I appreciate hearing that. I'm very strict (maybe obsessed) with keeping the animals to a good weight, as I think you are too.

Today we went to the state park and did an 8 mile ride. We met up with a rider on her poor paint horse, and I say poor because she was not as fit as our horses but yet stayed right with us, and was as game as they come. Cheyenne's rider was watching out for her, and the little horse seemed to handle the ride well.

The ride started out with two miles of winding dune trails, then two miles of wider trails through the woods. Then we went out to the beach, took a faster pace back two miles and then finished the last two miles back on the winding trails again.

I gave Nala a push to get her in the trailer, but Hero jumped right in eagerly. He's a great loader so far. As we drove, the horses were quiet (only a 15 minute ride), and Nala's rider said the horses had probably trailered many more miles than either of us had. Nala raced in New Orleans, went to California, and then up here. Hero was born in Washington, raced in Arizona, and then came back here.

When we got out at the parking area, there were other horses there too. Hero was a bit hot to start out, but manageable, just jiggy/joggy and a bit sideways. He sweated for the first ten minutes and made faces at Cheyenne behind him. He wanted to look back at her, but also couldn't quite figure out how to stay in the narrow trail groove. A lot of the time his hind end came out and was off the trail.


The other horses were saddled when we got there and headed out a few minutes before us, but we soon caught up and asked if we should pass, which the other riders agreed to since we were going much faster.


The trails were beautiful, shady in spots and out of the wind. We came across a big elk herd, which crossed the trail a hundred yards in front of us uneventfully. Hero's heart was pounding so hard I could feel it between my legs but he stood quietly and waited for them to head off.

On the beach it was very windy, the sand was great and Cheyenne's rider was willing to go faster with us. We cantered for at least a mile, and at four miles into the ride, Hero was able to pick up the canter smoothly. He loved it! Nala went ahead but Cheyenne stayed right on his tail and for once he was the fastest. He stretched out finally, far and went faster than he has with me. I just let him go for awhile because he felt stable and not about to buck. Eventually I felt him take a big breath as he tired, and I was able to take hold of him and let Cheyenne pass. Right when she went by he did a goofy gallop to protest, then slowed after several strides for me. When I slowed him, the others slowed ahead.

Hero is getting fun to ride. Whenever he felt insecure he'd look to Nala for guidance. He's such a more solid build than Nala.

His 11th birthday was Sunday, and I realized he's still younger than my other two horses were when I got either of them. It's great to feel like we may have a lot of time together, and especially I'm happy that he is feeling so strong and capable. I felt today like his hind end issues were less than 10% of what they were when I first started with him. He kicked out a couple times, and had a wobble/slip out back there twice. Other than that, he was handling the narrow trails, the hills, the deep sand and all just fine.

During the last two miles, we put Hero in front (Nala had been leading before) and he not only figured out how to stay in the narrow trail groove, he really enjoyed taking charge and leading the other two horses. I let him trot out and he was zooming around the tight corners, taking cues from where I was looking when he couldn't see the path. It was some great teamwork.

The only problem Hero has is that he believes he cannot back out of the trailer. I tried and tried, but finally just let him turn around. It's a tight squeeze in a straight load, but he can just make it.

Nala did something very silly which I'd never seen before. When we got home, she was still tied but tried backing and hit the butt chain. Instead of crouching or going forward again, she sat on the chain and lifted her hind legs off the ground. This popped the chain, it dropped, and then she just stood up, tested to make sure she was tied again, and then just walked forward and waited to be untied. She is very tricksy sometimes. It was quite hilarious seeing her sitting on the chain like she was a kid on a swing or something. Makes me wonder if she's done things like this before during her miles of travels...
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post #2867 of 3052 Old 04-30-2019, 09:11 PM
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Happy birthday Hero! Phin turned 11 last Thursday. Here's hoping they both have many, many years and miles left!
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post #2868 of 3052 Old 05-01-2019, 11:41 AM
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Bandit turned 11 a couple of months ago. He's 50 years younger than I am!

Riders ask "How?" Horsemen ask "Why?"
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post #2869 of 3052 Old 05-01-2019, 03:25 PM
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Don't think about stuff like that, @bsms . It's bad for your blood pressure!

SueC is time travelling.
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post #2870 of 3052 Old 05-08-2019, 09:24 AM Thread Starter
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Nala is really a beautiful horse. Her owner thinks about breeding her sometimes. I love her spring dapples.


Hero and Nala had a lovely 8 mile ride today.

After our last ride, Hero had minor back soreness near the back of the saddle, so today I used my dressage saddle instead of the endurance one I've been riding in for quite awhile now.

After the ride today his back did not seem sore, so I think the dressage saddle is sitting just a little closer over his back and moving less, especially since it can be used with a shorter girth.
For awhile I was needing a shorter stirrup to keep from getting bucked off his back, so the super straight flap of the dressage saddle wasn't working. Now I'm able to ride with a longer stirrup, so it was fine.

I'm learning that Hero is able to canter much better after a long warmup, so we did a little cantering during the first several miles but it wasn't real smooth. Then after we had gone about four miles, he was able to get into a nice canter and sustain it for about a half mile or so.

I tried riding without gloves today since I noticed there was a lot of slip with my woven reins on the last ride. My fingers got a little sore, but I was definitely able to moderate better when the reins were giving and when I was gripping well to pull Hero's head up when necessary.

There's a lot of managing to do, since Hero would love to canter along with his head quite low, and although I can usually ride the hind end elevation with the head up, I'm not so great at it if he's already going along with his head down. So I pull him up, because every once in awhile, this stuff happens.


I did lose my stirrups today, because I took Hero over a log, and it was fun except on the other side he hopped right, and I lost the left stirrup, and then he hopped left immediately after, so I lost the right stirrup. Then the "jaws of life" in my thighs kicked in and I managed to get everything sorted and my stirrups back.

We went down a wooded trail we haven't been on in a long time. I think I've had Hero on it once. We used to take Nala and Halla on it a lot, but I haven't had Hero fit enough to go that far until now, since it's at least three miles just to get to the start of it, and then a mile or so down the trail before we can turn back for home.

What I thought was interesting and funny was that it was much easier to navigate the narrow spaces between trees on big Hero versus little Halla. She just zoomed so fast that even though she was smaller I couldn't react fast enough to adjust her trajectory before we were super close to the tree trunks. I used to wince a lot riding down that trail. But both Halla and now Hero liked to try breaking into a canter, even though that is too gnarly for a rider trying to avoid getting knocked by trees overhead and on either side.

Hero still can't canter if Nala gets too far ahead. His anxiety makes him just hop around in place so I have to get him trotting out instead. But I'm getting very comfortable with him, and he is with me too, so even when he gets upset I'm telling him he's all right and both of us think it's going to be OK. My body is getting used to his hopping and the galumphing that he does.

The elk were ranging over a hill in the neighborhood where they usually never are, so Hero was looking at them when another sound came from the left and he overreacted. He ran three steps sideways, then half reared and spun back, but my body didn't have any trouble following that so I think my neurons are beginning to get attuned to his movements. At first I think I was having more trouble because my body was following him (subconsciously) too fast, and I was "jumping in front of the horse" so to speak. When he'd dart, my brain expected "Halla" which was a different sort of lightning. His streaks go longer and farther but not quite as fast. Bigger horse.

Do I think other people would enjoy riding my boy? Probably not. I'm having a great time.
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