Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Hitting the Trails..........

Part 1

With Dave all set with instructions for pictures (I thought), lytha and I turned our horses around and headed off toward the trees. Lytha was in front on Dandy so I could monitor how the two of them were getting along. While Dandy is a baby sitter, he will only be such if it is called for. The horse knows what level his rider rides and can test that sometimes. To be honest I've learned I should judge a rider by what I see and not by what I've been told or read. I wanted to be on top of things just in case something developed.

Dandy walked off with a fresh happy look in his eye and a brisk step. The horse's head was high and he looked from side to side taking in his surroundings. The pace was reasonable and not anything a rider might take as pushy, a nice comfortable four beat gait from a happy horse.

I think that Legs was as happy to be out there as Dandy. Usually Legs tends to walk a bit slower even with another horse in front on him. But on this day Legs was keeping up with Dandy just fine.

Within a few strides I was right alongside lytha, hoping I was setting up that shot I'd asked Dave to take. I glanced over to see Dave and Lindsay leaving in the car so there was little chance I had the pictures I wanted. It was time to focus on the ride and quit worrying about pictures for the blog.

I pointed out to lytha the direction we were going to travel to get back into the trails at the park. She and Dandy moved ahead in that general direction and I followed behind on Legs moving him back and forth in a zig zag pattern making use of the time to do a little work.

As we got closer to the access I could see lytha was heading Dandy straight for a chain that goes across the road way. I knew she probably couldn't see the chain because she wasn't really looking for it and it's at an odd height. That road did look like the sensible place to go but they have it cordoned off to keep cars from going back into that portion of the park so they cannot get away with illegal dumping and such.

I headed lytha off to the left and through the trees before the two of them were surprised by how Dandy decided to deal with that chain. With it being a slight decline, I'm not sure if Dandy would have jumped it, or just stepped over it but I knew he'd cross it as long as lytha kept him pointed in that direction. I didn't really want to see how Dandy would deal with it and I'd just as soon he not get it into his head that chain IS just another trail obstacle. Dandy so does love his trail work.

As lytha and Dandy moved away from the chain and toward the route of least resistance, I noticed Dandy was watching that chain out of the corner of his eye. As it became clear he wasn't going to "get" to cross it, the horse's head dropped down just a bit and I heard a sigh. Dandy was disappointed he didn't get to "try out" this new obstacle. I'm pretty sure lytha would have been relieved had she known what the horse was thinking.

Dandy watched closely where he was putting his feet as we walked through the trees. This was a route the horse hadn't taken before. The last time he was on this route, there was no chain crossing that roadway. I was good to see he hadn't lost his trail horse sense and was watching where he was putting his feet. There was going to be a lot of this trail that had changed since his last outing. The horse was going to need to be paying attention so he didn't get his rider into trouble.

Once we got through the trees and back onto the little roadway, Dandy's head went back up and he once again was taking in his surroundings. The way he was carrying his head, I'm sure he was looking over the fences into the neighborhood, maybe even checking if he could see the barking dogs he heard. Dandy was a happy horse and from what I could tell his rider was just as happy.

In the far back corner of this section, the road takes a ninety degree turn to the right up a steep grade. I watched as Dandy and lytha rounded this corner to see if the horse would walk that grade or push through it at a trot or a lope. While I had told lytha I expected we'd just walk, I hadn't really thought about these places on the trail where the horses prefer more momentum. I don't know if lytha had to correct Dandy to keep him slow but the horse just walked the entire grade.

The usual dog that charges at the horses at the top of the grade wasn't there that day. It wouldn't have mattered if he was, Dandy doesn't care about dogs even if they're sounding aggressive nor does he mistake the charging dog for a preditor like Legs. Lytha was in good hands and Legs was taking his cues from Dandy so we were both good.

This whole section we were on is much like an old logging road. It's grooved some and a hard surface and there are rocks, lots of them. Dandy has been barefoot for this last year. This is the first time he's been shoeless since he was five. I didn't know if these rocks were really going to bother him or not but from what I could see he was doing just fine. About the time I was thinking about this fact, lytha mentioned it too.

Lytha and Dandy were still leading when we left the road and moved off to the left onto a narrow trail leading into the main section of trails. We came out of that trail right up next to the perimeter fence for the park into a wide path that goes clear to the far corner of the park.

Not far onto this portion of the trail, there was an old rusty radiator leaning up against the chain link fence. Dandy walked right over to that thing and put his nose on it to check it out. Lytha burst out into a big smile, laughing at the horse's antics. I remembering saying that's the kind of thing that makes him such a great trail horse. He has to look at everything. The horse didn't miss a step but he saw what he needed to see.

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

More Time on the Trails

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  1. Stopping to look at a radiator close up is way more desirable than what Lostine did when I took a different trail. She saw a boulder, spun and took off up a hill off the trail. When I tried to take her back to face the boulder, she ran backwards down the trail. Sheesh. And she's 22-years-old.

    I stopped asking my husband to take pictures of me riding, because he does things like takes pictures of the fence instead of leaning over the fence or climbing the fence to get the shot.

  2. Sounds like a great ride .And Dandy, well... just that, a real dandy!

  3. A good trail horse is priceless!! Lytha seems to have been in very good hands!

  4. So far sounds like a great ride! Dandy sounds like a wonderful trail horse. I am getting there with my Arab, slowly but surely!

  5. Wow that sounds like fun and she had the ride she was looking for.

  6. Sounds like Dandy is a keeper. I wish that I could find a trainer around here that I was comfortable with to take my Sirocco and myself too, as it is I try to use the resources of Pat Parelli and my own instincts and practice, practice, practice.

  7. Aww. I bet Lytha was grinning from ear to ear. Sounds like a fun ride.

    I rarely ever ask John to take photos of me on horseback because his "focus" is a little off. When I look at the photos he took afterwards, they tend to be weird angles of just my face, with the horse's head cut off, or a full butt shot, with no horse at all. They also tend to be blurry because he doesn't hold the button down long enough and moves the camera while he's shooting. Oh well. lol!


  8. so sorry that i have not written the story of our ride yet - it will take me at least a couple hours to do it properly and i have not had that much time at a computer.

    today is no different but it sure is fun to read this!

    that radiator experience was something else. i just told my husband about it - most horses would avoid a scary monster like that but he went right to it!

    the chain, *lol* i saw a little path around the chain that i was heading for, but maybe it was not big enough for dandy.

    i have a few very blurry pictures of our ride but more cute ones of the two of them at the trailer making faces at each other.


  9. That is a great description of a trail ride. I know all about watching for the usual dog that barks and all the other hazards, and how horses expect things to be there that were there before.

    Dandy sounds like a great trail horse. I like your description of him walking along with his head held high.