Yesterday there was achange in my schedule and I had an unexpected , but welcome gap of time available. So, when given the choice of what to do with a free afternoon, what would one trying to condition two horses for endurance do??? Boogie home, change and halter up Maggie for a ride, but ofcourse!
She was not expecting to see me and I interupted her afternoon nap. I don't think she was all too pleased about it either. I had to halter her while she was laying down and it took some coaxing to convince her to get up. Eventually she groaned, stood up and looked at me as if to say.."thanks alot"
I decided that I would put the saddle on her today and see about actually making her carry me for today's ride. I hand walked her until I got to the gravel road, about a 1/8 of a mile, tightened the girth and proceeded to try to climb on. Maggie decided right about then that maybe it was time we turn back to the calling companions we had just left. As I was in mid swing with my right leg, she did a nice quick turn and pivot. I managed to land fairly squarely in the saddle, keep myself from plunking down, and got her stopped and turned back , all in one not so graceful motion. My saddle was also turned.
........... "All I need now is someone to come by with a truck and scare her" I thought to myself.
I got everything situated, took a deep breath and we set off at a brisk walk, pondering how it would be riding this mare over distance. She has absolutely NO withers. She's as table backed, mutton withered as they can come.. Getting on her without twisting the saddle is nearly impossible, even with an athletic leap to launch myself, and a good handful of mane.. the darn thing still comes over. "Deal with it...."
Up ahead was our first obstacle to get through. A truck with a flatbed trailer parked in the middle of the road. Its occupants were mulling back and forth, trying to fix something on the trailer.
.................Walk, stop, look, head up like a Giraffe, step, step.. stop...look... blow....
This is how we proceeded towards this horse eating monster, while I tried to gently talk to her , encouraging her it was okay. As we got closer, I decided, based on the tension rippling through every muscle in her body, and remembering the saddle rolling issue, it might be best if I just hopped off and led her through this. I didn't have much room to squeeze by them and the last thing I wanted was for her to decide to stop and spin and potentially running into the truck or trailer. Ofcourse, I had to really think twice; was it worse to get off and have to fight the saddle again or take my chances I could get us both through this while staying mounted. The logical side of my brain won out, wanting to make sure I do everything I can to build her confidence in sticky situations. I reluctantly hopped off and we walked by, said hello and made it through with no incident. I've learned that pride will often get a person hurt.
Shortly thereafter, I did the mounting dance once again, using a snow bank as an assist. As we made our way down the road, she began to settle in a bit and I took a deep sigh, which in fact prompted her to stop holding her breath as well. (funny how that works). This was our first ride away from home afterall. So I was a bit tense.. ok I admit it...
We got to a long straight stretch of road and I asked her up into a trot. What started out as a nice quiet easy jog started to build into a bigger, more impulsive, famous Morgan road trot.
......."damn hard wired genetics..." I was really hoping she would be reluctant to get into that big trot that is so bred into her, atleast for a little while!
As much as I was enjoying the impulsion and burst of effortless speed, I realize this mare needs to be contained a bit. She needs more encouragement to stay quiet and relaxed at this point. Forward is NOT a problem with her, the total opposite of JB. She can tend to get "caught up" and has way more go than I need or want with her at this point. I must say though, I think I'm in love!!!
The rest of the ride went fairly well. There was one other point in the ride that I opted to hop off again, as we were passing a narrow section of woods , woods that were making crunching sounds, which were apparently alarming. Nevertheless, she is much more brave and confident when I am out in front and I have no problem letting that be the case for now.
We managed to go four miles and she had adequate (ok more than adequate) energy at the end of it. She got warm but did not sweat, which was good since it was only 32 degrees out and she has a coat like a big brown bear! She got a good rub down, a mud removal scrub and a couple carrots.
Mission successfully accomplished.