Friday, March 26, 2010

Aidol's Story....... Tales from the Trails

Part 1

Aidol was known in those days when tied to pull back sometimes in new or scary situations. Ever since his bad experience as a yearling this had "vice" had started. I just never knew when it might happen. Now, I was a bit worried about tying the horse to the horse trailer to tack him up. I didn't want to start off scaring the horse before we ever got out onto the trails.

I tried to get my stuff all together so I didn't have to leave Aidol to retrieve things from the trailer's tack room. I figured if I could attend to my horse without distraction I could probably get Aidol through without any thoughts of pulling back.

I don't know why I thought I could accomplish this without interruption. I was dealing with Dave who didn't really know what he was doing either. He had seen me saddle horses plenty of times and had even thrown a saddle or two up on a horse for me but he had never been responsible for saddling a horse completely on his own. Turns out in this situation Dave was a bundle of nerves and didn't remember much of anything he'd learned up until this point. Getting on a horse and actually going for a ride had Dave's brain short circuiting big time.

I had the horses tied on opposite sides of the trailer so there was no bumping and moving from side to side. I expected Dave would have enough trouble saddling a horse that wasn't cross tied without adding to the mix horses colliding with each other causing even more movement. Also, I wasn't sure how Aidol would deal with being bumped if he already saw the new surroundings as something threatening.

The only problem was to help Dave, I had to leave Aidol. Each time I heard Dave's plaintive summons I took a deep breath and hoped that Aidol would remain calm while I was gone. Then I bit my lip so I didn't take my impatience out on Dave.

Mark (barn name for Malachite) was a champ about this whole ordeal. The horse didn't seem to mind Dave's fumbling nor me correcting Dave's mistakes. The horse stood there like a rock as Dave struggled with everything from brushing to leg wraps and on into throwing that saddle on his back. The horse just never moved a foot even when the saddle was sitting more on his croup than his back. For me Mark would have been picking up his feet and swinging his b*tt from side to side showing his displeasure if I'd taken that long.

Aidol didn't know what to think about the breaks in his saddling procedure as I left him to help Dave. Although the horse did act just once like he might pull back, he didn't. The horse moved around a little but really was not bad. I was really proud of how well he handled this new experience especially with strange horses and riders walking by throughout the process. The signs said Aidol was going to do just fine on his first trail ride.

Once we were finally ready I helped Dave get into the saddle making sure his stirrups were the right length and he was holding his reins correctly. Then I made sure he remembered the horse's cues before I got up onto Aidol so we could down the trail.

I remember Aidol didn't really want to stand still for me to mount. I know some say to pull on the inside rein to bend the horse around the rider so if the horse walks off he walks around the rider. Others say to do the opposite. Pull the outside rein so if the horse walks off he doesn't walk ON the rider. BUT for either of these to be helpful the rider must be nimble and quick springing up into that saddle in the first place.

Neither of those words has applied to my mounting technique in a very, very, very long time.......... much farther back than my experience with owning horses began. Even when I bought my first horse I felt the best means of getting myself into the saddle would be the use of a crane. Second best might be a mounting block but unfortunately those things just aren't available out on the trail.

My problems getting on a horse come from various things. I can't seem to get my foot into the stirrup without using both hands to jam it in there. Then I must drag myself up from the ground onto the horse's back because there just isn't the strength in my legs to push me up there. My upper body strength is lacking as well so when I say "drag" I really do mean drag. Any horse that doesn't want to stand patiently presents a tough challenge for me because all of these things get more difficult when you add the element of trying to hit a moving target.

You might see cowboys in the movies doing those running, swinging flying through the air leaps onto a horse's back but those cowboy stunt men are NOT 40 something or even older women with the additional padding all over their bodies that comes from having babies. I know few, if any, women my age who take mounting a horse for granted. We each have our own technique but it's a given it's not likely to be pretty.

Getting on a horse who doesn't want to stand still definitely compounds the issue for all of us. Most, including me, would try to get someone to hold the horse and maybe even hold the off stirrup if possible. That wasn't going to happen in this situation. Then add an audience of strangers already primed to slam those people riding the "crazy Arabs" and we have a situation loaded with stress. There was no doubt about it Aidol wanting to walk off made me sweat.

In an arena I can take a young horse to a corner to encourage the horse to stand. Out in the open in a strange place there wasn't even a tree handy that would work as a barrier. I was afraid to use the horse trailer as such since Aidol wasn't sure how close he wanted to be to that thing anyway.

I was beginning to think I wasn't even going to make it on my horse when Aidol decided to stare at something off in the distance. I took advantage of the horse's trance like focus to get my foot jammed into the stirrup. I nearly had myself pulled up to the saddle when the horse began to move. By that time the adrenaline kicked in at the thought of ending up in the dirt in front of a bunch of strangers so I managed to get myself the rest of the way into the saddle........ and we were on our way...............

To be continued...............

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  1. I hear you on the getting on a horse with more speed than grace ! I am becoming a huge fan of the mounting block!

  2. whew, you got on! i am almost 40 and i'm starting to realize i'll never want a horse over 15 hands: )

  3. Yup. That's what I need...a CRANE! Love your story about getting up on a horse. Try a 58 year old with a BAD back and short legs! And, no mounting block! Ack!

  4. Good for you for getting on. I always use a mounting block, especially with Dusty. She might be small but mounting believe it or not is always the worst part of the whole riding experience with her.

  5. After deciding on getting a small horse so I could dismount and mount out on the trail I now realize I need lessons on getting Bella to stand still. And add to that a youngster with a very round back so the saddle is sure to slip.
    I've taken to bribing her with a bite of carrot after I'm safely on board (from the mounting block even.) It keeps her standing and bending. It's all I got.
    Have you got any good tips?