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post #91 of 126 Old 10-16-2018, 11:30 AM
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Sounds like things went well. We used to have games at the local shows we went to. All kinds of things that you'd think a horse would have issues with but most were up to the challenge and weren't spooked silly by our antics or what we asked them to do.
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post #92 of 126 Old 10-16-2018, 04:40 PM Thread Starter
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I think Toby enjoyed it - it was something different. My hope is we could set up an empty trashcan and I could toss the ball in, stationary or in motion. Depending on what he tolerates of it.

I thought briefly about trying to fire a toy long bow at a target but that seems ill advised on a lot of levels. 😉
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post #93 of 126 Old 10-16-2018, 05:29 PM
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We used hula hoops hanging from posts.
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post #94 of 126 Old 10-19-2018, 05:21 PM Thread Starter
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So, my usual Friday lesson was cancelled (well in advance) because my instructor is taking some folks down to the Cape (Cape Cod) for a beach ride. (It's about a 3-4hr trip down and an extra-long ride along the beach, they only schedule them on weekdays. It is also a walk/trot/canter ride, so not for me yet.) But we rescheduled to a trail ride yesterday.



At first, I wasn't going to get to ride Toby, because his leaser was supposed to ride, but they cancelled, so, when I got there my instructor said I could ride him I just had to tack him up quickly. Sweet! Can do. (I was going to ride Nugget, who is perfectly lovely to ride, and I would've had no qualms on him).



For some reason, several of the other horses remain hopeful that I have treats. I don't know why. I have never given anyone treats. I don't think I even smell like treats? Jasper, who I've ridden once, and Chief, who I've never ridden AT ALL, both seemed to think I might have snacks. Weirdos.



The ride was going to be Instructor, me, and two people who've gone on trail rides before. Then there were two walk ins, which necessitated fetching another couple of horses and tacking them up. That made six. The walk-ins said they'd ridden before. The trick with larger rides (or any ride, but the larger ones in particular) is making sure everyone's personalities match up. Jasper is very forward, but Baby doesn't like ANYONE up her butt, and Nugget chisels away at the ride at his own pace. So Baby went behind Steel, the lead, and then Nugget behind her (because Nugget will never get up on anyone's butt), followed by me on Toby, and Jasper, and Louie behind Jasper. (I don't know Louie well).


So the woman riding Jasper is a large woman and Jasper is basically the only one suited to carry her. Like I said, he's forward, but also kind of a weenie and is one of those horses who won't trot/canter if their person is unbalanced. Unfortunately, while she's ridden several times on the trail before, she also can't/won't correct him when he decides it's time for a snack or he tries to sneak up in line. (a little of both?) So my job on Tobes was to keep Jasper in line - Jasper tries to sidle up, Toby flat-ears him, and Jasper slows down. As my instructor also explained, she didn't really trust the woman to trot on Jasper, and said that she trusted me to have control over Tobes enough to slow him down and keep Jasper from plowing ahead, and also to keep Toby to a walk if necessary and prevent Jasper from speeding up. Basically, my job was like a middle-of-the-line drag - make sure everyone is still there, and keep an eye out for trouble. (When she's guiding, she asks if people want to *try* a trot - there's a limited number of sections you can trot on, and if the first patch doesn't go well, she'll keep quiet about any other good spots.)



Everyone had a good time, which is the important thing. I try to take trail rides as an opportunity to practice things like balance, and to apply things I learn in the ring about controlling a horse over and through obstacles. I do like a nice, quiet ride (and my god, the scenery on a crisp fall day is just outstanding - especially as the sun is tilting in the afternoon), but I also like being trusted (even assumed) to be responsible and give help when it's needed. And spend more time with the horses, of course.
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post #95 of 126 Old 10-30-2018, 03:12 PM
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It sounds like you have found your sweet spot. Love reading your updates! I'm with you on riding on those glorious fall days.
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post #96 of 126 Old 10-30-2018, 09:29 PM Thread Starter
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Well, I've been feeling off-kilter the past couple of weeks (brain kind of wants to cry about my mom, kind of doesn't, kind of stuck, rather antsy), so I decided I needed to have some extra horse-time today and went for a trail ride (a nice walk, just me and my trainer, exploring some less-used trails for damage and condition) and accidentally spent like 6 hours at the barn (by accidentally I mean "I didn't drive out here with the intent of spending 6 hours at the barn, but we all know that's what'll happen") and helped Toby's leaser. He's a nice guy, takes his girlfriend out riding several times a week, and he's even newer to horses than I am, but obviously has a lot of fun and cares a lot for Tobes. (I'm glad. Toby will certainly not suffer from more attention.)


The lesson last Friday went well too. After reading a bit more about horses and their color vision or lack thereof (research suggests they're essentially red-green colorblind?) I bought a bright yellow ball to see if he had any more or less interest in it. I'm not sure he did - though he recognized the notion of the object. On the ground, my trainer stood by his hip and tossed it to me (standing at his head). He was like "waaait what" the first couple of times but he got used to it and was like "oh hey, the ball thing". The yellow one is actually smaller, which made putting it on the barrels (and picking it up) a bit trickier, but that meant that if he went too far I could have him back a step or two, or stop short and go up a step. For more fun, I got too warm as I was riding, and paused him at a pole in the ring, took off my vest and hung it up. He didn't so much as flick an ear. (good job). He did stop the next circle around to check it out.



He still tries to laze his way through being asked to jog, but he picks it up quicker now that I mean it when I ask. He actually went - it felt bigger than his trot, but it was just a half step and I pulled him back because I'm a wuss. The third circle, I thought "ok, fine, I won't fall, I'm not going to fall, I'll ride through it this time" but that time he behaved and just jogged. So much for that theory.



After the lesson I stayed and helped with feeding the boarders and turning out the regular horses (the boarders were staying in due to a forecast storm), and cleaning up at the barn. It's nice to stay there, especially in winter, when it gets dark early so you're putting them out under the stars or even a bright moon. And to help, of course, is nice.



My trainer was talking today about the two new horses (they've actually been there a few months) and how to test them out on the trails and ring, and I wish that I was skilled enough to help with that - if nothing else, to follow along on a trail in case of emergency. But I am good at scraping humans off the ground, not so much dealing with a panicked horse in the woods.
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post #97 of 126 Old 10-30-2018, 10:36 PM
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It's wonderful that you can help others, already.


I would think you are ready for walk/trot/canter . . but that's just me.


We do really easy canters, up a hill or such, where the hrose knows when to stop. It's easy for everyone. I bet you'd be fine.,
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post #98 of 126 Old 10-31-2018, 09:52 PM Thread Starter
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I can help others with simple things, like tacking up, or how to hold the reins and be firm but not hard on the nose/mouth (several hackamores in the barn), or grooming. Nothing too complex. And I like welcoming new people, kids and grownups, to the barn. Yes, come in, meet the horses! Come enjoy the trails! This should be a safe, fun place. (One of my paramedic instructors told me, many times, that one of my strongest points in chaotic situations is an ability to calm people and really talk to them, and to cultivate that. So I try.)


On the other hand, I still have a tendency to - if not panic - then get nervous and tense up, or lean forward (or both), which doesn't give Toby the right signals either. On a third and related hand, I need to have another chat with my orthopedist and maybe another cortisone shot or two. My leg hurt like the dickens at the end of yesterday's ride, and only felt better when I went without stirrups. Otherwise, I actually would've liked to trot in the meadow - nice, clean straightaway with no trees. Ideally, I should probably not go on the trail without stirrups (the barn is in a valley, between several rocky hillsides/drumlins, so either way you're doing a lot of relatively steep up and down hills), but my balance is pretty solid now and lately it's just been a little more comfortable by the end of 90 minutes to hold my legs under their own steam.



I think, maybe, canter may be soonish - if the climate was more temperate year round, I might say later in the winter. But we'll see. If Toby decides he's going to pick up speed, I might just have the gumption to work him through it.
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post #99 of 126 Old 11-02-2018, 08:40 PM Thread Starter
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And, of course, it rained (heavily), making the arena unsuitable for riding.


However, I asked (and received permission) from my instructor to lunge him a bit if the round pen looked ok. It did, so I took him out and tried for a bit - maybe 20 minutes. I am, let us say, not especially adroit at lunging (yet?). It's been a while since I'd done it with my instructor looking on (back in spring), and I've never done it by myself. For being by myself I didn't do too badly - I could run him through the gaits and stop him, and did an ok job moving him back onto the fence if he started drifting in. I was pretty bad at turning him (we had one or two good turns), but he wasn't balky, he did sort of look at me like "I'm trying to figure out what you want". Not being a butthead, just confused. Fair, my Tobes, I'm trying too. He walked, jogged, trotted, did a bit of canter all in both directions. Got the ants out of his pants.



One of the other instructors apparently was, ah, concerned? I gather she scolded my instructor for letting me lunge him by myself, but my instructor said she trusted me, and trusted Toby, and was keeping an eye on me from where she was working. The other instructor said mine wanted me to bring him in, and he'd gotten his ants out, was perfectly happy to come with me and get cooled down and groomed. I didn't hear the discourse about it until later. The other instructor doesn't know me well (or, really at all), and I did say (because I'd gotten the sense that something was 'off') to my trainer later well, I probably should've asked you to be in with me and she was like no, I trust you not to do anything stupid, and Toby's smart. (The pen is wet sand, but he's well in shape, and spent 3 hours on a beach ride on Wednesday, and didn't work at all Thursday or today aside from me, so he just needed to get a little run in). So that was odd with the other instructor but pleasant to be entrusted with a little work with Toby by myself.



Next lesson is (maybe?) Tuesday if it's dry. Friday, my trainer is going to the Equine Affaire in Springfield, and I am hoping to go on Thursday maybe. (My choir has concerts both Saturday and Sunday). Should be fun.
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post #100 of 126 Old 11-07-2018, 03:53 PM Thread Starter
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It's been a rough few days, my enjoyment capacity has been impaired by a spell of depression, making me not want to do really anything and stifling the things I do like. So I spent much of Monday at the barn. I turned up not strictly intending to ride, figuring if no one was going out I'd just work until I was tired in a good way, not in a "brain doesn't know what else to do" way. But there was a trail ride and the two folks had 0 experience, so my instructor put me on drag. A nice walk in the woods, just keeping an eye on the two guests.



Toby was affronted that I had to remove all of his carefully applied filth in order to tack him up - when I put him back in his stall after grooming him and getting him dressed (just to wait a few minutes) there was a horse-shaped outline of dirt on the floor. (Sometimes, I go to the tack shop and think 'is all this grooming stuff made on the assumption that your horse is mostly clean on any given day?') When we got back I was checking his feet over because he'd been side-eyeing me the whole ride like he was trying to tell me something was up, and I realized his shoes were tight. (Farrier was due to come out this week, no worries). He got brushed out and cooled down and I set him back out to coat himself in mud again.



I asked my instructor to teach me how to properly muck and clean stalls, so I helped her with that, and helped feed and water the boarders (it's so funny - they come right in from their paddock and into their assigned "rooms" to eat - at least most of the time, sometimes they forget and argue or get confused, but it all works out pretty quickly). And swept up the aisle and finally it was dark and I felt happy-tired instead of just stress-tired, and the boarders who don't stay in went back out. Mostly the ones who stay in are older. Two are younger: Shasta, a cute little paint mare who looks sort of like a mini-Toby, but she has spots on her nose and huge calf eyes, has been staying in because she sprained something in her foreleg a week ago (it looks a lot better now, so Monday seemed to be more precautionary). She's gotten much better about being in a stall or indoors at all, but she still gets upset if she thinks she's alone. Her "mom" has worked a lot with her and they seem very happy. Memphis, a possible walking horse/quarter horse cross, who was intended to be a trail horse originally, was bought by a woman who fell in love with him (and he is very lovable) and has been indoors to help put some weight on. He keeps kicking the stall door when he eats, or when he's going to eat, a habit the barn staff is collectively trying to steer him off of.



I'm slowly learning who all the horses are (I still have trouble telling Baby and Lavinia apart, and Houston and Louie) and the work helps. My instructor apologized for monopolizing my whole day and I said not to worry about it, that was my intent in coming there anyway. Aside from working helping clear my head, barn-time is good therapy, the horses listen and only judge whether or not I have snacks (which is never, but now half my clothes smell like hay).



After all of that, my instructor had a treat for me - she had me follow along to her barn (not far) and meet her horse. He's lovely. He's about 23, a red dun, arab/quarter horse cross. Has the slightly finer face but the big strong back and hips. Beautiful horse. I felt very privileged to meet him.


Tuesday the lesson was cancelled d/t The Weather (ugh), but this weekend (beginning tomorrow) is the Equine Affaire in Springfield, so I'll head over tomorrow and certainly be overwhelmed by all the exhibits and things which I can't afford and don't need. (Not that I wouldn't spruce up Toby's headstall if I had the opportunity - whether a new one or just fixing up his usual one).
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