Friday, April 9, 2010

Aidol's Story....... the Girls Ride part 2

Part 1

Colleen's "issue" with Aidol was not the only problem we faced on that ride. Lindsay's gelding wasn't happy either and Lindsay was NOT the cause. Mark was doing a fair amount of jigging and at first I couldn't figure out what the cause was. The only time the horse had behaved like this on the trail was that first trail ride with Dave when the horse was stung by bees. but this was early on in a very cool morning, too early and cold for bees. Once again I was the one on the green horse and it was the only one behaving as expected.

This was the first time we had gone on a ride with more than two horses from our farm. Up to that point we had never taken more than two horses at a time from our herd.

All three horses had been on the trails, just not all three of them together. Each horse, however, had been on a ride at one time or another with the other two horses. Every one got along fine. There seemed to be no issues with "buddies."

Yet, "buddies' was exactly what Mark's issue was about. With three horses from home, herd dynamics had kicked in, at least in Mark's mind. The gelding thought there should be a particular order in how those horses "should" travel down the trail only I didn't know that. I'd never seen this side of the gelding before and I had no clue "order" was the issue.

For me the order was always determined by the experience of the riders. I like to have the less experienced rider in front of me so I can see a problem coming to give directions on what to do. Having them behind me makes for a mighty sore neck by the end of the ride because I'm always turning to be sure things are going as they should.

On this particular day we'd started out with Mark in the lead. Lindsay had ridden poker rides before and had much more experience riding than Colleen but Lindsay still needs to be coached sometimes so I wanted her in front of me too. I expected she wouldn't need help often so two horses up would be ok for Lindsay. Being in front is a place Mark has always been comfortable too.

Then I had Aidol directly behind Mark with me bringing up the rear on Dandy. That way I had the "greenest" rider closest to me. Before we even got onto the trail that was the plan. Once it became clear that Colleen and Aidol were having issues it seemed like the right decision.

All three of these horses were used to the horse following being in that position so it wasn't Aidol following Mark that bothered Mark. It was Aidol and Dandy both behind him that the horse didn't like. However, it took me a while to figure out that was his issue. All I knew was this wasn't the norm and something was at the root of it.

With the horses not respecting that order Mark thought was important, the horse was jigging his protests. Up until now Mark had always taken great care of Lindsay. She had never had to deal with him jigging but back before she was sick she had dealt with a jigging pony on occasion. Lindsay knew what to do but her frustration was growing. This wasn't the type of ride she'd expected from Mark. She really didn't want to be working that hard.

The beginning of the ride was a bit chaotic. With Aidol jogging for Colleen and Mark definitely jigging for Lindsay, I was going back and forth between the two riders trying to help them get things settled.

Due to Lindsay's brain damage she has her own issues whether riding or on the ground. Those issues can definitely affect Lindsay riding sometimes. She can be slower to process so fixing an issue can be trying but that's not the biggest problem .

Like many who suffer brain damage, Lindsay has a short short fuse. For whatever reason at the root of this, frustration can quickly lead to rage. That's the last thing anyone needs when riding a horse so Lindsay's issue with Mark caused me a lot more stress than Colleen's with Aidol.

I was worried Lindsay might get pushed farther that she could handle before I could figure out what to do to "fix" Mark. The last thing I wanted was Lindsay to erupt on the trail. Getting off the horse and running off into the woods wasn't beyond her when caught in that state.

I "fixed" everything obvious I could think of the get Mark to settle in for Lindsay. I had her adjust reins. I think I even got her off the horse and repositioned the saddle to be sure he wasn't being pinched and we checked the bit to be sure that wasn't the issue.
Still every time we started back off down the trail Mark went into that annoying jigging trot. The only thing left seemed to be moving the horses around in their position on the trail. I didn't hold much hope that would help because none of these three horses had ever seemed to care about order or location of the other.

I put Mark in the middle and Colleen in the front but that didn't work. Mark did slow up some but he was still rushing and Dandy reacted to the change in order too. Now Dandy was doing some jigging of his own.

That's when it dawned on me maybe this whole thing had something to do with pecking order. It didn't matter the horses hadn't seemed to be bothered by it when there were only two horses from our farm on the same ride. What mattered was it bothered them now.

I moved horses around a few times trying to figure out what worked. The final solution to this problem was Dandy out in front (and me with that very sore neck). Mark went in the middle and Aidol brought up the rear with Colleen.

Colleen had to do a lot of holding Aidol back to maintain her position but it wasn't because Aidol wasn't happy in the back. Colleen was still squeezing with her legs at this point and pushing him forward so she'd hold him back and let a space grow between us before she'd let him go. I suspect that helped wear her out quicker so she finally got to that part of the ride where she was relaxed and her horse walked.

The last half of the ride went off without a hitch. Once I got to the bottom of Mark's "code" he was fine for the rest of the ride. Aidol was perfectly happy bringing up the rear when Colleen finally stopped squeezing. Dandy was fine being out in front even though he really had never done that before. Both girls settled in well enough there actually was some giggling and joking going on for the rest of the ride.

We got the opportunity to show some "non Arabian people" that Arabians really can be great trail horses. We got to a creek with about twenty horses backed up refusing to cross. We asked if we could come through and the whole group laughed thinking no way were our horses going to cross when theirs wouldn't.

Given the word it was OK to pass, I pointed greenie beanie Dandy at the creek. As we reached the water the horse dropped his head down and blew in the water on his way through but never missed a step. Mark and Aidol followed right on behind him. We could hear the voices behind us, "There's no way!" and we just chuckled.

Later on in the ride we even took our horses out into the river where another group of riders were stopped. Colleen was the first to take the plunge and she did it just to show off to those riders who thought the Arabs would never go into that rushing water. By now she had figured out all of Aidol's buttons and was feeling pretty comfortable about the whole thing. If you ask her today about taking Aidol in that river, you'd see a pretty big grin. She's still proud of her accomplishment to this day.

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

A Little Bit Country

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  1. The crossing the creek part is the best! Don't you just love it when they do what they are suppose to do when others think they won't? Have to admit I don't always get those moments, but when I do, there is no prouder moment.

  2. Sounds like quite a ride! Glad you figured it out in time for everyone to enjoy it!

  3. I'm glad you got it all figured out and everyone wound up having a great time. Love the creek story.

  4. Good deal that you figured out the order they were happiest in.
    It's so wonderful that Lindsey can enjoy her horse. That is quite the accomplishment, too.
    Do you still do these Poker Rides?

  5. Hard to fugure out where each of them would be most comfortable, sounds like it went well in the end

  6. I wonder if it's a west coast thing for people to think of Arabs as bad trail horses. When I was competing in competitive trail rides in NY most people were riding Arabs.

    My own trail horse was an Egyptian Arabian, he was worth his weight in gold and then some. Nothing fazed him, except poop, he didn't like to step in poop. I couldn't blame him for that.