Monday, June 1, 2009

Magical trails, Poker and Horse Deals

It’s been a while since I have posted much about JB. Mostly, I have been riding him at home in the arena, working on dressage. He is really coming along well and getting his transitions and lateral work better each week. Two weeks ago, I started him over fences. He seems to really be catching on and enjoying it. It's been nice for me as well to get back to jumping a bit, although, I can tell I am rusty!

This past weekend, I took part in a Poker ride with JB. It would be the last ride I got in before JB would have to switch gears to his other job, breeding stallion. Two mares were arriving Saturday evening.
When I pulled in to the parking area for the ride, I was wondering if I had made the right decision in bringing JB. Over the last few years, I have been attending these poker rides regularly to help support the Foys to Blacktail Trail Project but usually, Tom and another familiar horse are along for support. This time, we were flying solo but I was meeting a friend with her horse who was relatively quiet.

These rides have always had a good turnout but this time? I had never seen such a turnout of trailers. There were horses and people running here everywhere you looked. The energy in the air could be cut with a knife. There were trailers from Nevada, California, and even North Carolina. Deep breath.. This is good experience for both of us to deal with in preparation for large endurance ride turnouts, I though to myself. Nothing we can’t handle , right?

I found a parking spot right next to the friend I was meeting and unloaded JB. He let out a few whinnies to see if there were any girls around.. Well, I suppose he IS a stallion and it IS springtime…Guess that is to be expected. Overall, he was more interested with the knee high green grass. I let him graze for a few minutes and then tied him to the trailer so I could saddle him. He was well behaved. The lady I would be riding with was riding a mare but luckily, the mare was just out of her cycle last week! With JB saddled, easy boots strapped on , I finished a bottle of cold water, bug sprayed both JB and myself and headed out. I realized I forgot my camera..again.. so no photos.. (I really have to get better about that)

These annual rides always have their fare share of "yay-hoo’s" attending since they are open to the general public. You never know who will show up. As a result, I always try to find a “ pocket” in the crowd and stay there. Last fall, three people got bucked off before they even made it to the trail head. Elise and I were successful in finding our pocket, but only after having to pass a large crowd first. The first few miles were uphill and JB was feeling full of energy. The first mile of the trail was uphill and rocky but the boots seemed to be doing well for him.

The first couple of card stops were a little tricky as everyone tended to bunch up. With a stallion, the last thing I want is to be crowded around so I always try to hang way back. I have found that generally, one can’t rely on the other riders to keep their own horses safe.
We arrived at the half way point and I was anxious to get off and stretch my legs. I was drawing a bad hand anyways. ( I never have done well in gambling or card playing) I jumped off, loosened the girth and let JB graze for a bit. I chit chatted with a few familiar faces who all inquired as to how JB was doing this year , if we had sorted out his hoof issues and the array of questions about what we did to solve the issues. Lots of questions about the easy boots as there aren't alot of people that use them here. Ofcourse, he also got his usual array of compliments on how well behaved he was and he even managed to sweet talk a few suckers out of a treat or two.

After about a 10 minute break, we mounted up and headed out, another ½ uphill pull. Then a long gradual downhill ride back to the parking lot. Along the way, someone's treat bag or pocket must have had a hole in it because suddenly we were on a magical trail with baby carrots along the way. JB couldn't believe the luck!! JB gobbled them up as we went and now he is wondering when we can go on another ride with a magical trail.

All things were going well. We had one last card stop and this was the only time during the entire ride that we had a bit of an issue. I had gotten my final card and had stepped aside while I waited for Elise to make her way through the pack of riders. As I was waiting, there was another rider who was on a Jenny . We had passed them earlier and ever since, much to my irritation , had been riding right on our tail. The rider would allow his Jenny to get her nose practically right under JB’s tail. I finally turned around and asked him , politely, to give us a little space. JB, bless his heart, never offered to kick, although that would have been my preference at the time! Anyways, I was waiting for Elise, like I said, minding my own business when mule rider shows up again. JB nickered to the mule again and I turned to face him to other way and get after him for talking…For WHATEVER reason, this particular individual on this Jenny decided that it might be cute to let his mule come over and “get to know “ JB . He walked her right over to have her go nose to nose with JB. I was able to veer that off before we had a situation. At this point, I had lost my patience with this rider so I proceeded to say that it was absolutely not ok to do that with a stallion. His response was “oh really, even though it’s a mule?” Apparently he thought it would be ok because it was a mule. I wish someone could explain that one to me!! UUGGGHHHHH!!

So , that once incident aside, we had a great ride. I couldn’t have asked JB to be much better. He walked out very well and had plenty of energy when we finished the ride. (Must have been those baby carrots!) We finished 9 miles of the ride in about an hour and 38 minutes. Better yet, no rubbing with the easy boots.

The mares arrived late Saturday night and ever since JB has switched to his other job. That makes riding him fairly unproductive which makes me a little sour. This particular breeding was a deal that dear husband made, a deal that I wasn't too keen on but sometimes you choose your battles....

Once the mares are bred and settled, hopefully by the end of the this week, JB will be getting gelded. It’s a decision I have been bantering with for some time and have finally decided it’s the right thing to do at this point. Honestly, I can’t wait. The management of our 5 head will become that much easier and better yet, no more husband horse deals… I better go and make that appointment!!


Mel said...

I love your desciption of the "magical trail of carrots".

Stephanie - Siouxzeegirl Designs said...

sounds like you had a good time. I have never even heard of a poker ride before! Seems like fun!
Glad JB was such a gentleman for you.