Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Don't Fence Me In

Sunday, I was asked to join Sarah and her horse BayBay on a trail ride.  Even though I was completely nervous, I said yes.  We decided to go to a local park that has an outdoor arena to ride in first.

It was pretty hot by the time we got there.  I'm from the Pacific Northwest, where anything over 70 qualifies as hot and Sunday at noon it was about 79 degrees.  Sarah's trailer is a small two horse trailer and it took Tessa few minutes to decide to load.  All we had to do was wave a dressage whip at her hindquarters and she stepped right in.  Good pony!

With my nerves going full force, I took one picture right as we arrived at the park.  Hopefully I will have more outings and be able to relax enough to snap a few pics.

We got there and got tacked up.  Tessa munched contentedly on her hay while I groomed and tacked her up.  Then it was off to the outdoor arena.  I brought a lunge line and did a few circles with her.  She was very looky and up, but no bucking or other explosions, so I bagged that idea.

There wasn't a mounting block, so I led her to the arena fence and got on there.  She stood like a champ!  First time mounting from something other than a block!  Go pony, go!

The arena had scary bleachers on one end, some scary barrels and assorted other scary parts.  We trotted around and she was VERY FORWARD, which kind of scared the crap out of me.  We cantered a bit and she shook her head and grabbed the bit.  I got nervous and wussed out and asked Sarah to get on.  Sarah got on and gave her a good canter around the arena.  She also made her go by the bleachers.  It required some strong riding to keep here there, but as soon as she cantered by without protest, she got lots of pats and praise and got to walk.

By this time the pony was sweating and we thought it was time to hit the trails.  I got back on and out the gate we went!  The trail was perfect for this outing.  It was a nice, short loop and there were no bikes allowed.

Sticky spot number one was right when we got started.  There was a bit of a marshy/muddy/wet area.  BayBay went right through it, but Tessa said no thank you.  I actually stopped being nervous after a little while because I started getting frustrated instead.  I was kick, kick, kicking and tap, tap, tapping and my pony was stuck, stuck, stuck.  I turned her head this way and that way and tried to disengage those hindquarters, but she was not having it.  When she got tired of me kicking and tapping, she would kick her leg up at her belly and shake her head.  But she wouldn't move.

I finally got a few steps out of her.  Then she started sinking and decided to just stop.  Sarah ended up getting off BayBay and leading us while backing BayBay (BayBay is not a fan of other horses so ponying was not an option).  This worked out fine and thankfully, Sarah is still young enough to mount BayBay from the ground.

The next sticky spot was the sweet, old couple in their sun hats taking a walk.  They saw us coming and decided to step off the path BEHIND A TREE.  The horses hadn't spotted them yet, so they had no idea until we rounded the corner.  That was Tessa's only major spook and it involved jumping three feet to the left.  She gave those people the look that someone gives you after you've jumped out of a closet and scared the bejeesus out of them.  It was kind of cute.  She went "AAAAHHH"  and then "Ohhhh, damn you!"

The trail then opened up into a field.  On our left were play structures, children, picnics and a random little farm.  On our right was a field with a horse in it.  Tessa marched right along.  BayBay stopped to chat and had to be goaded forward.  There may have been some cursing involved.

The last sticky part wasn't so much sticky as it was a little scary.  The end of the loop, the trail opened up into a wide gravel road going down a steep-ish hill.  The wide open made Tessa high headed, snorty and suddenly forward.  Luckily, Sarah is an instructor and just calmly said "If she wants to leg yield sideways down this hill, let her."  So, I  did.  Tessa really wanted to go sideways and there was plenty of room so we went down kind of sideways.

After our ride, we hosed both of the ponies off.  Tessa was not a fan, but by that time it was over 80 degrees and both horses were drenched in sweat.

We had parked the trailer in the shade, so it was nice and cool when we got back.  We went to load Tessa in and she said no.  Fifteen minutes later she was still saying no.  We put BayBay in first to show her that it was all good.  She still said no.  We did finally get her in, but it involved a lot of tapping, tapping, tapping.  She kept going off to the side, which was annoying.

At one point, Tessa was clearly hot and tired (and so were Sarah and I) and I had been tapping her on the hindquarters and Sarah had been putting pressure on the lead.  Tessa put her front foot entirely in the trailer (past the ramp and right in the trailer) and Sarah and I immediately let off pressure and praised her.  Poor Tessa put her little head right down next to her foot and just laid it there, breathing.  Sarah scratched her forward and told her she was good girl.  Tessa stayed there for a good minute or two.  Five minutes later, we had her loaded and got her back home.

Hopefully the trailer issue will get better and not worse.  She's fantastic about bigger trailers, but this was her first experience in a little two horse.


Yes, folks.  That sound you hear is called Progress.  And it's a good, good sound.


  1. Oh, how Iove the feeling that accompanies taking a solid stride forward! Way to go!!

  2. Yaaaaaaay trail ride!!! Well done - ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED

  3. Trail ride??!! Unfamiliar outdoor arena??!! Yay, you! Yay, Tessa!!

  4. Go Tessa, go! Trail riding is SO good for their brains, it really is. And it's good for you, too. I hope you have many more successful rides in the future. And yes, it was a very successful ride. Balking at icky ground is normal, and not being quite sure about what to do about something other than flat ground (a hill), is typical, too. She'll get better and braver the more you take her out...and you will, too.

  5. Good for you girl....you have come so far and have so much more in your future!