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Our school also pays for the college classes high schoolers take. So, my oldest is doing a couple, one doubles as English 4 and 101. A business 101 will just give her an elective credit, but she will have those if she so desires going to college.
 

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Discussion Starter · #342 · (Edited)
We hauled them to our first trail ride! It was a bit hairy at times, but no one died! I ... think ... I had a good time. Yes, now that I think about it, I did. I wasn't quite so sure in the middle of it, but now I would say that it was nice. My daughter and husband definitely had a good time! Everything went pretty well until literally the very last minute (you can skip to near the bottom to find out what happened). Pony got a NICE working walk pretty much the whole time, LOL. Overall I was quite pleased with how he did. Moonshine generally did as expected except (see below).

I'm setting out all the details for posterity.

They loaded fine. Pony self-loaded as usual. The drive was OK at first. The trailer definitely felt heavier (BTW I got 11.5 MPG for the trip, and most of it was on the highway going 60-65 mph; surely that's just abysmal?) but not unsteady. I had one moment where I thought I felt sway, and I used the trailer brakes, and it was fine.

The bad thing is, at the highway juncture I took the wrong way. At this interchange, whether you want to go to 71 E or 71 W, it's a left exit. I guess I was pretty stressed from driving them, and I just saw "71" and took it. So, I was going in the wrong direction. I needed to exit and make a u-turn, but as soon as I got on 71, two more lanes merged in. There was a LOT of traffic, really heavy, lots of big trucks, moving fast, and I couldn't get over to make an exit for a couple of miles. But once I did, everything was OK.

What I anticipated as the worst part of the trip was the left turn lane into the park. When I drove out there last week, it seemed like it was really short and I wasn't sure the trailer was going to fit into it. And the speed limit on that highway is 70 mph so you wouldn't want someone to not see your butt sticking out into the left lane until the last minute. But it turned out that it was fine.

So, we get there. Pony is super up. I know people said don't use the pens, but I wouldn't have trusted him tied to the trailer. We put them in the pens and got some hay for them. Pony settled down a bit at that. Moonshine was like, "Who cares that we're in a new place, gimme food!" She couldn't have cared less.

We didn't forget any tack! Well, except the saddle bag I got. So no water for the ride. And I left the hoofpick in the truck. But we didn't end up needing them.

What I thought was, Moonshine will be in front, because she likes trails and she has a faster walk. But she was balking at lots of stuff, so we went in front. Pony was snorting and blowing and snorting and blowing, but I got his mind back on me by reverting to our training thing we do where I ask him to stop on voice command and then give him a treat. Pony is generally poky, but I'm glad we spent time rewarding stopping. Every time when he seemed like he was about to lose it, I'd ask him to stop and give him a treat.

Moonshine wasn't wiling to go into the lightly forested area that I had picked for the start, so we made our way through some buildings to the wide gravel trail. There was tall grass on either side, and I decided to let Pony take a bite every now and then. I generally don't think this is a good idea, and honestly we'll probably have to deal with the repercussions next time, but it really helped him settle. By about 20 minutes into it, he was still very alert and still had a very working walk, but he had stopped snorting and blowing at everything.

We walked down to where my husband took a picture of us at an overlook, then headed back. All the sudden, Moonshine stopped dragging her feet and started feeling very peppy. That's when I took the pictures of us in the open area. I really wanted one of those "horse ears on a trail ride" picture, and I got several, but when you ride a Pony with a short neck and low head carriage, it's not actually easy to get such a picture. I basically was holding the camera in front of my chest to take them. He was still a bit "up" so his head was up for once.

It had rained a good bit the night before so I decided to skip the part of the trail that is in the river bottom. The path down is full of large smooth rolly rocks, and I was afraid with them being wet that someone might slip. Plus I figured it was probably muddy at the bottom. So we turned around after the overlook and headed back. But my daughter didn't want to be done, so we crossed the grassy area onto another trail. This one was going to be a bit challenging because it was partially to fully forested, but like I said Pony had settled down so I thought it would be OK. Actually, I thought Moonshine would go in front but she wouldn't have it. She didn't want to get off the first trail, balked after about 10 steps into the grass, wouldn't walk next to a bench (to be fair Pony didn't like them either) and just generally refused, so we went first. Here's the thing -- Pony was "up" to one degree or another the whole ride, but he went where I asked without asking questions. I expected Moonshine to be a lot calmer, and she was, but I also expected that we'd have to follow her the whole time, because she would be more confident going into unknown places or next to unknown objects, but she was't.

Here's something I learned about being first in a forested area -- you get all the cobwebs. Bleah. Anyways, we walked down until the trail started heading down, then turned around. Once again, at that point Moonshine was happy to be in front. That's where I took the foresty pictures.

Pony got a little snorty when we got back to the built up area of the park and were walking back through the buildings. Also he had gotten into the mindset that he was just following the trail, so when we left the clearly marked trail to walk over the grass, he was confused. But again, he went.

Ah. So this was when he started swishing his tail, a lot. I looked to see if I could see anything that was bothering him (and we had fly sprayed them before) and there wasn't. He just kept swishing. I assumed he was ready to be done. Then he stopped and... shook himself all over, as if he had just gotten a bath. I almost fell off LOL. I've never had to sit out one of those. It was a FULL shake off. But after that he was fine. So I guess it was something bothering him.

---SKIP TO HERE--- OK, so now we are back in the parking lot. We can see our trailer up ahead. Familiar territory! And that's when the giant horse-eating rock attacked. It was a small boulder that was lying hidden in a clump of tall grass, and as we walked past it jumped out at Pony, so he spooked (I say spooked but I really just mean shied; just that sort of sideways jump / run they do). I turned him back toward it and he spooked again!

Moonshine came up behind us and --this is something she hasn't done in the 3.5 years we've had her and I never would have thought she would do it-- also spooked at the rock. I don't know if she spooked hard or if my daughter was just caught off guard, but she fell off. She ripped her pants, but that was the worst of it. It was a gravel parking lot, not pavement. I get why she'd fall off -- she's never had to deal with a horse that spooked, or jumped, or wonied, or all of the antics Pony used to get up to. He spooks, and I'm like, OK, back to work. Nothing to see here.

I did get off after that. We walked back to the pens and gave them some alfalfa pellets and hay, which they appreciated.

Pony didn't want to self-load back into the trailer. Well, he half loaded and then unloaded. So I walked him in and he was fine. Definitely something to keep working on. I don't know if it was my driving (I really hope not -- I tried so hard!) or that he hadn't entirely enjoyed himself, but it was fine. No problems with Moonshine, of course.

I have four air vents in the trailer, and it was hotter on the way back, so I flipped the front ones to bring in air, and neither one of the horses was sweaty when we got back, so that was good. I let them graze in the front area after we got back. Teddy was very glad to see us! There are a couple of other ponies in that pasture but they aren't "his" group; he notices when his friends leave.

In short, I think it overall went as well as I could have hoped. Pony was very willing, which was a pleasant surprise, even if he was also on high alert for the first third of the ride. He settled in after a while and I suspect he enjoyed it after that. Moonshine, of course, hates everything and every one. For her, it's just another place where annoying hoomans make her work.

Pony and I are definitely a ways away from being able to go out alone into the forest. I hope we can get some more trail rides in with Moonshine. Even if she was just in the back, he knew she was there, and her calmness helped him a lot. But, I am really happy with him. The lady I got him saddle broke him and used him on trails rides at her place for maybe six months, and then I took him. He hasn't been on a decent trail in a long time, and he didn't have that much experience on them to begin with. And this was his first time being on a trail away from home. I know some people scoff at the whole "bond" thing, but we have a relationship that has been forged through a lot of difficult times, and that has developed through compromise to mutual trust. I don't know, maybe he would have been fine out there for anyone but I felt like he was really trying for me, and I really appreciate it. He's a great Pony!
 

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You two look great! Too bad your daughter fell off, but it's good she is OK.

Unfortunately, that's the kind of gas mileage I've ended up with when hauling two horses as well.

We used to joke, "My horse needs to go second," in order to make the other person go in front to clear the cobwebs. My friends would complain when I was on my Arabs, because the front person is supposed to have to eat the cobwebs, but my horses were short so they'd still run into the higher webs. I'm sure your daughter hit some on Moonshine that you didn't clear out, LOL.

I'm sure it was stressful driving and dealing with nervous horses, but it will get easier from here on, and you'll enjoy it even more. How nice to be able to trailer out on your own!
 

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Hey that's great you had a successful ride. I do get it about the cob webs and the horse shaking, had those things happen often.
I have found over the years that a horse loads pretty well at home and then loading to come home they are not so willing but Pony did well with you going in first. I don't think it has anything to do with your driving as you were most considerate.
I'm glad you posted about this ride as I was wanting to know how it went, We all feel part of this ride as we have been following your post.
My gelding hates rocks as well, there are a couple on the rides around and he know where every one is but after three years has finally accepted that they are there and nothing to do about it.
Another horse I had hated blackened tree stumps, this horse never shied or spooked at anything else but would skitter around a stump.
Another horse also one that rarely ever shied at anything hate piles of cut wood beside a trail, don't know why but she sure didn't like them.
The more rides you do you will get to know Pony and how he feels about different things.
 

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Discussion Starter · #349 ·
Rocks get my horses all of the time. Lol. Big rocks in the middle of no where are very scary. They might be monsters you know.
Yes, I figured the scariest thing about lone rocks it that they may be desperate. You know, maybe they were exiled from the pack, or injured, and possibly starving. They might attack anything with four legs, even if it's bigger than them.

I didn't see this, but after I wrote the original post my daughter said that my husband saw her fall, and she told him that Moonshine had spooked at the rock. So my husband went and got on it and jumped up and down on it to show her it was no big deal. Apparently she was really snorting and blowing when he did that. I can't imagine WHAT she was thinking at that point...
 

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I am so glad you went, and so sorry your daughter fell off. For my horse Tillie, its not rocks its fallen trees or stumps! Your rides will get better and better the more you take them out. For inspiration I would read @egrogan journal and see how very far she has come in her riding and trail riding. It is truly inspiring. The one thing I tried to teach my daughter when she started riding "out" was to keep your eyes open for things that may look like something your horse may not like. Not to avoid them but to ride more confidently toward them to give the horse comfort and support. She was 10 when we started taking her on real trail rides (steep ravines, muddy trails, technical trails) She started her own horse 2 years ago (age 19) and she said she uses that advice a lot when her green horse gets unconfident.
 

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Discussion Starter · #351 ·
Thanks I will check out her journal!

I forgot to mention one thing, which is actually quite important. We took them barefoot, and it was quite rocky in places (e.g. see the trail in that group picture), and they seemed to be fine. The trimmer told me that Moonshine's boots were a tight fit and they might not fit a few weeks after a trim, but I rasped her pretty well (I thought) the day before and thought they would fit. But they didn't. So we had to take her barefoot. The wide trail was rock-free in places, and in others my daughter was able to ride her in the grass, mostly. But she did have to ride on rocks at some point. No one acted sore afterwards. I mean, I expected Pony to be fine, but I'm glad Moonshine was as well. My daughter asked, "Next time can we go some place with fewer rocks?" but I told her, this is as good as you're going to get in this area.

Changing subjects, the more I think about it the happier I am that Pony was fine being in front on the way out, especially since Moonshine was being so balky. I really didn't expect that. He really has the makings of a fine trail horse: brave, confident, obedient, great feet, great mind, calms down quickly. And short LOL.
 

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that sounds like a successful day. That kind of a fall is usually not a big deal, although certainly no fun to land on gravel. I remember the spiderweb issues, in the Fall. I used to have a stick in hand that I moved around and around out in front of me to break the webs before my face did. the webs would be round around the stick like spaghetti!
 

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Good idea about the stick to catch the spider webs. I sometimes hold my arm up vertically in front of my face to catch them. Helps me but does nothing for the horse and they will snort and shake their heads some.
If you can convince someone else to go first that's a good idea, unless it's Sis riding the pony, leaves the high ones for me.
I remember some early mornings in the fall when if was a bit frosty and the sun was just coming up, I would go for an early ride and in some trails the spider webs would have moisture on them and the sun shining through make them look like diamonds, I loved that and one place I have named Spider Alley for that reason.
 

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Discussion Starter · #354 ·
unless it's Sis riding the pony, leaves the high ones for me.
Yes, I was in front on Pony, and I turned around to complain to my daughter about the spider webs, and she was like "I'm still getting some back here!" You wouldn't think a few inches of height would make that much difference...
 

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The one thing I tried to teach my daughter when she started riding "out" was to keep your eyes open for things that may look like something your horse may not like. Not to avoid them but to ride more confidently toward them to give the horse comfort and support.
I started with this approach recently, and it was a revelation! Instead of looking for things for my horse to spook at, and then feeling scared and shut down and defensive, I instead looked at them as things for us to "Attack!!" like we were going to do battle with it. But like... very quiet walking battle, haha. Still, the change in attitude and focus made a huge difference for both of us! It started with some sandpipers who had decided to take over the arena. I decided we could either avoid them and worry about them, or we could "attack" them by chasing them down (with no real possibility of hurting them, I should clarify). And then I started applying that attitude to everything, within reason. Horses like the calm, assertive guidance forward, rather than hesitation, quite a lot!
 

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I agree with the riding confidently forward. My method with scary objects is to act like they are the most amazing interesting thing I have ever seen. It helps my confidence as well as I am going "wow, look at that rock, isn't it beautiful" so I don't have time to feel worried about anything. I found it worked with my puppy when she was going through fear periods too. Like "oh look at this amazing [insert scary object name]" and then start oohing and aahing over it, and the puppy would be going from being scared to like "hang on, I want a bit of this amazing thing too" and would run over and start sniffing and interacting with the scary object.
 

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I’m glad y’all had a successful ride…it will get better and better and the hauling will too.

The last ride I went on alongside the road I live on, Skip and I encountered a big green tractor with front end loader,
a four wheeler, four mini donkeys who rushed their fence, Longhorn cattle, a truck and trailer hauling round bales, and the wind was blowing 20 mph per my weather app! I was second guessing choosing to ride that day

The cobwebs are awful here too


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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Discussion Starter · #358 ·
What we did on that trail ride was whenever he got super looky at something, I just told him, "We're not going to worry about it" and moved him along. Usually I do let him stop and consider things when he's concerned about them, but (1) there were too many things he was concerned about and (2) he probably would have actually spooked at them, and I didn't really want that.

**

Yesterday Teddy got put into the wrong pasture. What happened was, one of the gates to the back pasture was open, and he was in the "front" area in front of it when apparently all the horses from that pasture found the open gate and got out. The barn owner just shooed everyone back into the pasture, Teddy included, and then let me know. He knows all of those guys from over the fence, and he's a pretty level-headed guy who is near the top of any pecking order but not a bully, so I figured I'd leave him in there until I had time to get him out.

It's funny, just glancing over there every now and then, he seemed fine. His body language seemed calm, and he was alternately grazing or just hanging out with one of the other horses. But when I came to the gate to let him out and saw his face, it was almost comically worried ("Help! I am in the wrong pasture! Things are DIFFERENT!"). I called him over and he came RUNNING. I made him stop at the gate, then opened it to let him out, and he cantered away.

Pony and Moonshine definitely have no lingering sore feet from the trail ride, so that's great. I want to take them out again this weekend (the weather is supposed to be perfect), but my daughter doesn't seem like she wants to go. I was thinking about asking someone else if she wants to ride her. I don't know. I guess I need to make up my mind pretty soon. We'll see...
 

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Give your daughter time. She fell off and she is maybe a little scared to go now. She went from having the calm horse to the one that was not calm and that can be scary. BUT I think you should continue to go or ask your daughter if she wants to just walk the horses on the trails until they seem calmer. Baby steps - riding outside of the safe arena can be scary
 

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Discussion Starter · #360 ·
Well, Pony has definitely regressed on the loading. He didn't want to self load today. He let me lead him in, and in fact he'd follow me in at liberty, but he didn't want to self load. And once I got him in, he'd stay in just fine, even without the lead rope, until I left or tried to move back, at which point he'd back out. He did have alfalfa hay in the feed bag, but after our recent rains there's a lot of green grass around and I think he made the calculation that he'd rather have the green grass and be free then be sitting in the trailer with hay.

It was also a fairly windy day, but I don't think that's really an excuse.

What I ended up doing was standing there with him for a minute, then leading him out the side ramp. I thought maybe we could get "forward" in his mind, so he'd stop thinking about backing up, but it didn't work. Again, he'd lead on just fine, and he'd come off just fine, he just wouldn't self load. So we just did that like 10 times, at least to reinforce the idea that he DOES need to go on the trailer. I'm not sure if I want to bring the truck out again tomorrow to work on it or not. I am hoping to get him back to self-loading before I take them out again. Even if I don't need him to self-load every time, the fact that he's willing to do it, to me, shows a high level of comfort with the trailer. And one thing I DON'T want to happen is to have loading problems on the other end.

He did really well in the lesson today, and in our lesson Wednesday also. I realized, after what happened with me taking the wrong exit on our trail ride, that I freeze up when I'm (worried, anxious, scared, stressed, etc.). Mentally as well as physically. I'm realizing that that's what's happening with me with working more on cross-rails. My instructors want to be like, "OK first we will canter over these two rails, then we'll add another half dozen in, no problem." But all I can think about is that I'm going over rails and hoping to not fall off, and I can't remember more than two things at a time. I can TROT a course just fine, but ask me to then canter the same course and I have no idea what I'm doing. So today while my daughter and Moonshine cantered all kinds of stuff, I just cantered big circles with cross-rails in the middle. I'm also still working on judging distance -- Pony wants to speed up and then take the long spot, which, especially as he is a Pony, involves him launching himself up and over much more than he needs to. On the bright side, I'm no longer wanting to fall of (so much) when he does this. This instructor, who also puts training rides on him, says he's "attacking" the jumps. I'm getting a little better at judging when he needs to slow down and get in an extra step, but I'm still not at all GOOD at it. Also, he needs to know that his rider is committed to the jump -- if you are, he will happily go over it; if not, he will himself start having second thoughts. I'm trying to go with "fake it till you make it" here and it's going OK.

My daughter fell off Moonshine again today. The instructor was having us canter with no stirrups, and Moonshine has a vicious downward transition. Daughter was fine, but she put a hole in her shirt. The vet said that Moonshine shouldn't do jumps, but she really seems to be enjoying these low cross-rails, much to my surprise. I mean, as much as she enjoys anything.

I did everyone's feet again, at least a little. This new trimmer is supposed to come out on a four-week schedule, but she's got something going on the week she's supposed to come, so she told me it will be five weeks this time. So I trimmed Teddy's fronts, trying to stay ahead of his flares and general wonkiness, and I trimmed Moonshine all around. She had an imbalance on one of her fronts, which I'm not sure is due to the farrier or the way she wears her feet. I always did her feet every week or two so I never let anything grow out to that point. It's been three weeks since the trimmer came. I rasped Pony's just enough to get the imbalances off his fronts where he toes in, but left him otherwise. I may do him tomorrow.

The weather was gorgeous today but the ragweed is vicious. I'm so ready for that to be over. I'm either sneezing and blowing my nose every five minutes or I'm zonked out on antihistamines. Or both. It's just a couple more weeks, most likely. And then we'll have both nice weather and low allergens, at least for a couple of months.
 
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