Saturday, November 20, 2010

A different trail ride.

While yesterday Cici was flighty online she was great on the trails. Today the online pre ride check went quietly. She was responsive and listening. But on the trails...well this was the first time she's spooked with me in quite some time.

Went out with M and her Friesian bulldozer and her dog. Cici and this dog have an ongoing conversation. We've all been out together and everything went fine. Today the dog went running off and when M called him it took a while for him to come back. And when he did he crashed through the leaves behind us. Cici spooked but quickly stopped with one rein. But after that she didn't want the dog behind her. And the dog was leary of passing her! So we would stop and "pull over" for the dog to pass.

Okay that was one thing going on. Everything settled down as we continued along. Cici was swinging her hips as we walked and I had a casual rein. We walked through the leaves crunching under foot (or hoof). Then we turned up the trail where we planned on bushwhacking. M started off the trail but quickly stopped as the going didn't look so good. Cici walked off the trail and I asked her to wait. She did for a bit then decided this was taking too long and she started across a pile of branches.

I don't know what happened next except we were now canter up the slope on a very narrow trail, with a steep dropoff. I turned her up into the hill, one rein stop and turn. She was clearly on alert. So I dismounted - on the uphill side which meant a right side dismount.

By now M has come out of the woods and asks what set Cici off. I really don't know. There was background droning of a leaf blower, the wind was blowing, she got tired of waiting?

She just was not her normal calm collected self. Walked her to some stumps to remount and we headed back down the trail toward home. Walked through the puddles and mud again. Friesian decides to avoid the water and climbs up on the bank and then looses his footing and almost goes down. Cici decides that she too should avoid the water and tries the opposite bank.

M feels she needs to school her horse through the water. Cici is not standing quietly and then spooks again. Now we are talking maybe 3 strides before I lift one rein but she is not happy with contact. And I'm not happy with this. Emotional fitness is coming and going. Safety first. But I am thinking as I write this that I could have dismounted and played a while on the ground before getting back on.

We do some bushwhacking and Cici likes to choose her own way. I have shortened my reins. And she is listening when I ask her to go down a slope slowly, and up the opposite side also slowly. But she is not feeling relaxed. She is following the Friesian but her ears are saying she is leading. They are pointed to the front, with only an occasional flick back to me. I'm trying to keep my seat deep and swinging. I'm trying to maintain a feeling, and not hang on the reins. Emotional fitness. Hmmm.

Looking at the video I remember remarking how open the woods are now that the leaves are all gone. You can now see much farther into the woods, see the all the tree trunks. No leaves creating a tunnel and blocking the open view. Look at the sunlight and shadows! In the months with leaves the trail is completed in shade. Wonder if this change is what Cici is responding to. And listen to the sound of the leaves!

When we get back to the barn and I untack her she is wet. More than what I would expect from the ride. Wet from nervous energy. Wondering why I didn't see this in our pre flight check. What did I miss?

Very different from our usual trail rides. Hmmm how interesting. Wonder what I can do differently next time. I need to lick and chew on this for sure.

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