Monday, June 6, 2011

The Rehabilitation of Storm......... Horses on the Trails......

Part 1

With perfect timing for when I was beginning to take Storm onto the trails at Frontier Park, Dom did a post on Trail Riding Tips I remember thinking as I read these "Only if it were so simple." Not that they weren't great tips, but nothing has seemed to be simple with Storm since he arrived home. I was sure hoping our issues in the woods could turn out to be the "usual" green trail horse scenarios.

Each additional day in the woods, things changed with Storm. He did do some of the "normal things" for a green trail horse like spooking at a big boulder he'd easily walked by on both of his previous encounters in the woods.

Then I guess that first day with his head in Dandy's butt, Storm didn't need to see the boulder but what about the day I walked him by the thing. Still he puffed up and blew like that boulder had moved his direction. Spinning sideways and facing the thing with those bulging eyes and quivering nostrils, it was a good thing we were on one of the wide lanes or I'm pretty sure a troll would have grabbed him from behind and we'd have been in the middle of a fairly big wreck.

I took the horse on more deer trails and he would go pretty much any place I pointed him out there in the brush. I had to be extra careful where I steered him because in those winding trails he would just step right off the trail into whatever happened to be there. He didn't seem to mind being up to his hocks in Oregon grape or tickled by ferns. I think he was actually more comfortable in those tight trails than on the more open ones.

Rarely do I meet horses on those trails but walkers, runners and dog walkers with both loose and leashed dogs are a given. I come across those kinds of park users on most days out there on those trails. There are the horses that live on the little farm on the north perimeter of the park but where they will be when we go by is unpredictable.

Of course because I was trying to get Storm comfortable with the trails, the "normal" for what might happen there just did not apply. It was the second solo trip when I heard other horses out there on the trails with us. They were crashing around in the brush unaware that anyone else was even out there, let alone a green trail horse.

I imagine if there really were trolls in the woods they would sound much like these horses riding in the deer trails sounded on that day. From the instant we first heard them, Storm's head went straight up in the air and his nostril's flared with his ears locked tight the direction of the sounds. His whole body was tensed and his steps got even slower but he still proceeded where I asked.

I can imagine the whole time his eyes were working double time scanning the woods for some sight of what made that sound. It was probably several minutes before he saw anything at all and when he did it was fleeting. Like some kind of sprite running from tree to tree the upper portion of the pinto horse was there and then it was gone. I don't know if Storm got enough sight of it to relieve his fears or not. He just kept moving on through those narrow trails as I asked.

Half way concerned if we got into the open the horse might bolt, I kept twisting and turning Storm through the labyrinth that can be the deer trails. The horse did not resist but then at this time he didn't know the trails well enough to know I was killing time deliberately keeping him out there until the other horses were gone. We just kept winding around and around and around changing things up enough to make sure Storm didn't really know what to think.

Only after the woods had gotten totally quiet again did I take Storm off the narrow deer trails and back out into a more open area. The last place we had heard those horses was in this area and Storm was frantically turning his head from side to side looking for something to tell him what the noise had been.

It was only after we passed a fresh pile of p**p that all the tension left the horse's body. As we walked by it, Storm tried to pull down to get a whiff but I blocked his attempts. Even so it was still enough for the horse to know it had been other horses out here. Now instead of worried, the horse was curious. For the first time, he picked his step up and walked more like a normal horse.

At the end of that lane, I turned the horse back towards the horse arena. As we walked up to that big log Storm acted like he'd never seen that before either. We were yards away from it and I already suspected the horse was not going to cross that log for me. Two steps forward and three steps backward just seemed to be the way things went on the trails with Storm.

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

Dogs on the Trails.....

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  1. I get exasperated when they spook at stupid stuff like a pile of wood or rocks, or a port-a-potty, or blacktop patches on a gray road. The world is scary enough without making stuff up LOL!

  2. It would seem that all you need to do is place piles of poo from strange horses all over the trails ;)

    Really though, if all he did was snort and look that's not bad at all. Heck, I'd be hella proud of my horses if I could just get them on a trailer alone much less travel out to a distant trail and ride around.

  3. My first horse was like that when I started trail riding him. Some rides it was a constant fight, others my had was on the buckle at the end of the reins.

    Even still the same boulder we went past every ride, this time it may just eat him. You never know...

  4. They make me crazy when the spook at things they've seen before. It was a good idea to keep him in the deer trails until the others were gone. At least he knows it was horses after to poop clue. He'll come along I'm sure, it's just going to take time.

  5. Sounds like more walks in the woods are a necessity for him yet. But at least he is still listening to you when you are asking him something.