Monday, November 15, 2010

It's Nice to Own a Good Horse

I don't know how you decide what a good horse is. My horse is not the most athletic, or the most sensitive to cues, but she has a good head on her. That doesn't means she doesn't do stupid things...she does. It's what she does after she does something stupid that tells me I have a good horse.

Yesterday was a good case in point. We had ridden pretty hard on Saturday and were looking forward to a steady ride on Sunday morning. It was a beautiful, cool day as we headed down the same canal bank we almost always head down. Ranae and I are talking, the horses are looking around. Every once in a while one horse may balk. Just stop for no apparent reason. It's annoying, but the other horse is charged with going forward and the stopped horse has to get their stuff together, get over whatever alarmed them and catch up. Now, if they balk at something once we are out we really make them work. This one area of the canal is about 1/4 mile from home and has been a problem going out never coming home. We decided it was their little way of protesting going for a ride (I left a perfectly good flake of hay and a nap for this?), so we've been ignoring their behavior (it's really not that bad)

Okay, we are riding along Dusty stops, Jessie and I keep going. Jessie is no dummy, she likes Dusty right up there with her because she knows whatever horse-eating plastic bag, tarp, bicycle, etc is up there, they are going to eat Dusty first and give her an opportunity to escape. Without Dusty she becomes hyper-vigilant because she thinks she's the main course. "OMG!(No really, that's the way she talk's) A tarp or something is in the canal!" Yes, it was there yesterday, but that's not the point.

Now, to set this up properly, it's important to know that kids ride their bicycles up and down the canal and recently created a big jump by digging a large, deep ditch. This ditch was, you guessed it, right across from the scary tarp in the canal.

Jessie is not spooky afraid of the tarp, she is just giving it the evil eye and hoping Dusty comes up so he'll be eaten first IF said tarp should decide to charge at us. I turn Jessie to face it, because that's what we do - we face our fears. When I urged her to go forward, like an idiot she stepped backward. Yep, right into the ditch.

Everything that happened in the next 5 seconds was in slow motion. As we were tipping backwards slipping into the ditch I was thinking "Are you doing this?" and I could see her eye and she had a look like "Are YOU doing this?" I've trained myself to relax the reins and grab some mane when she trips or stumbles so I don't pull her off balance by yanking on the reins. But, now we're stuck in this ditch. It reminded me a little of the feeling of sitting on the toilet without putting the seat down - a little stunned and "What just happened?" running through my mind. I asked myself "What would Clinton say?" Well, I think he would say she has to be responsible for her own feet. If that's the case, honey you got us into this mess, you need to get us out. I laid forward on the saddle horn, Ranae said she was on her front knees and she calmly hoisted us up and out of there. Once we were out, we stood there for a one Mississippi then walked by the scary (not so scary) tarp. Once we were well past it we stopped and checked for injuries. There were none.

I think it may have helped that on Saturday's ride we had practiced backing up and down some hills, or, maybe not. She is just so cool under some circumstances it's scary. I know there may be times when we get stuck in it and things might not end so well, but I'm certain if I need to put my trust in her, she'll take care of us.
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