One of my favorite things to do is go on a trail ride with my friends. It seems like we get everything discussed in just the right amount of time and we come home feeling fulfilled and caught up. I’m not sure how the horses feel about us chattering away while on their backs, but so far, no horsey revolts.
I also like to trail ride by myself. I guess I’m not by myself because I have my horse there… but you know what I mean. I usually go by myself because most people cannot go when I call them at the last minute. But, my wonderful steeds are always available for last-minute rides and that is what happened today.
I went on a trail ride alone, again. I decided to bring my camera and document it for this blog. Of course, I totally forgot I had my camera half of the time… but I did manage to take some highlight photos. It was a short ride, but a nice ride on a beautiful day.
I took Finn because he is the one I’ve chosen to ride consistently. He was a great choice for this ride because he prefers NOT to go where we were going. For some reason, he just doesn’t like this particular venue. He much prefers his regular place. So, whenever I bring him to my friend’s nearby ranch, he lets me know his discomfort. Anyway, we drew straws and he lost. So I got to pick the venue and I picked my friend’s nearby ranch.
Here is my friend’s ranch. It is really nice and not at all spooky. However, there are many spooky things there. It is a great place to take a young horse to desensitize him. Or, if you are like me and have a horse like Finn, it is a good place to come and hopefully… someday… he will become desensitized to it. Ahhhh Finn… he just doesn’t like surprises and this place has many…
We park and I unload Finn. I barely get him out of the trailer before he dumpster dives his head straight down and lickity-split grabs a dead squash and chows down. Ugh. I couldn’t even get any of it out of his mouth for fear he would chomp my fingers. I had no idea he liked old vegetables.
GROOMED AND READY
Here is Finn all groomed, sprayed and ready. He is wondering why I am taking his picture when I could be feeding him the rest of the banana he knows I have stored in my trailer (or the rest of the dead squash). Yes, this boy has odd tastes. He likes old squash and bananas. Really ripe and kinda black bananas…. which is good because those kind just sit in the fruit bowl until the fruit flies carry them off.
Of course, I have to be ready as well. And, I am! Here is a photo of my ridiculous neon tummy pack. It is almost thread bare and about to break so that’s a good thing. But, sadly, I don’t know how I will ever replace my tiny, water resistant, glow in the dark, ugly fanny-swung-round-to-tummy pack. It is only large enough to carry my phone, the car keys and a granola bar. It is perfect for me and I’ll be sad to see it go. No one else will be sad… but I will be.
PHASE ONE – THE OUTDOOR ARENA
Now, I see no reason why the outdoor arena is so confusing and complex to Finn. I wonder if the horses in there become lost to him in the shadows and then they reappear in the sunlight and that confuses him? Or maybe he is shopping for alternate tack options? Maybe Finn is trying to read the dressage cards… I have no idea why the outdoor arena fascinates him. But, it does. Here we are, stopping to stare at it, as usual.
PHASE TWO – THE ARCADE SHOOTING GALLERY
Do you remember those arcade games that were shooting galleries? You’d put in your coin, set your gun and then these things would come out from all sides at odd times and scoot across in front of you? Your job was to anticipate them and shoot them? Well, this is what it feels like when we enter this alley. I call it Arcade Alley. The first thing he does is stand there and prepare himself. Then, we walk forward in baby steps. He is snorting the whole time, looking left and right and up and down. He is on total ALERT. If anything breathes, he hits the deck. All fours splayed and me wondering if I am in an elevator going down…
It is really ridiculous. Yes, there are deer and wild turkeys in this alley. We have tons of deer and wild turkey at our place. I’m sure Finn know that they won’t eat him. But, I think what throws him off is that for some reason, these odd deer and strange turkeys wear the Cone of Silence or something. They just don’t ever hear us so they come darting out from all sides and it is really weird. I mean, usually deer and turkeys go away from us. But these in this alley seem to jump out as if they are daring us.
Sadly, Finn is no good at this game and he isn’t getting better at it either. So, I just go up and down like a lowered car on main street on Saturday night…
PHASE THREE – THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ALLEY
Once we make it to the other side of the Arcade Alley gauntlet, Finn always feels rather proud of himself and he gets frisky. He is also afraid of all those crazy deer and turkeys behind us so he gets goosey and HAS TO TURN AROUND AND LOOK BACK. He cannot stay on the trail. He swings around and looks back at the Fire Swamp.
As you can see in this photo, the trail is in front of us at a 90 degree angle. We are totally off of it looking back from whence we’ve come.
PHASE FOUR – THE WATER
OK, well this is where I get spooky. I hate anything that drops off or has an edge. Now, I agree that this here isn’t a huge drop off. And, if we did drop off into the irrigation ditch below, we’d probably be OK. But, it still scares me. And, I’ve always had horse who love to walk the edge and torture me. Aladdin was a tight rope walker, I swear. He could get as close to the edge as possible before I would become apoplectic and faint. Finn is the same way. He will sidle up to the edge and then look back at me, “See, is this what you are afraid of?? Look Ma, no hands!!” I hate when he does that. “Finn, LOOK WHERE YOU ARE GOING!” He replies with that young boy devilish eye twinkle, “Hahahhhaaahahaha, I got you!”
As you can see in the photo, he is just about to turn back at me and wink.
PHASE FIVE, DEER MEADOW
Poor Finn thinks that all deer in this area are as crazy as the deer in Arcade Alley. So, he watches for them. And, of course, to feed his fear, there were two deer hiding in the trees beyond the ditch. Can you see them? Yup, they’d move then freeze, then move then freeze. Very annoying. Finn was a bit uneasy and just wanted them to stop doing that!
He continued to watch for them the entire time we were in that grove of trees. He was so distracted that he wasn’t watching his feet and we tripped several times.
Of course, tripping is an excuse to go faster and he tried to trip-accelerate-run outta there! I reminded him that he is a WALKING horse. He hates it when I do that.
PHASE SIX – TREE TRIMMING AND TRAIL MAINTENANCE
I like to train all of my horses to stop when a branch is sticking out into our trail. This is great if you are on a mission to trim every branch on the trail. It is not such a good idea if you aren’t. I learned with Aladdin to NOT give cookies when we stopped to trim a branch because he became obnoxious about it… “Hey, are you gonna get that branch? How ’bout this one? Ohhh, that one is really low, let’s get that one! And, I’ll stop here because you can maybe reach that one up there…” Yes, it became a problem. All he could focus on was trimming branches and getting cookies. So, now we just trim branches without any cookie reward. Finn is fine with it. Until he gets unfine. At this point here, I am off of him and giving him a talking to. As you can see, I’m in his face, holding his bridle.
Finn cannot stand still for very long. It is as if he has horsey ADHD. He cannot keep his mind on one thing and if he does, he gets fidgety. He hates cutting branches for longer than a few minutes. After that, I may as well forget it. I’d maneuver so I could snip and he’d take a step back. I’d urge him up and he’d take six steps and one sideways. Now, he knows better, he’s just not happy about this and messing with me. So, I hopped off and gave him the “Listen to me, Mister!” chat. He listened for that moment but then forgot and asked me my name again…
PHASE SEVEN – BOOGEYMAN OBJECTS
This Real Estate sign was a boogeyman. Finn was convinced that we would die if we went anywhere near it. Especially when it started flapping and swinging in the wind. So, we went up to it to investigate. Doesn’t it look like he’s reading it…?
We also passed this scary pile of dead wood. Poor Finn. This scary pile of wood is right at the mouth of the Arcade Alley from the other side.
He was very nervous and started looking around for those crazy deer and turkeys…
PHASE EIGHT – THE OUTDOOR ARENA – AGAIN!
So now we see the outdoor arena from the other side. There is a therapeutic riding school happening and I didn’t want him to disturb them or upset the kids. So, I get off and stood by his head so he could look from afar. All the kids started screaming, “Pretty Horse, Pretty Horse” and then started running towards him. Of course that freaked him out so we left. I guess he doesn’t like being called, Pretty. He thinks he is Handsome.
PHASE NINE – WATER AND HIS TREAT
I hardly got him to the water bucket before he dropped his head like a scubaman. He was like a camel getting ready to go into the desert. OMG! You can see the blur on the photo. He came up for air and spewed waterslobber all over me and the camera. Nice.
At the trailer, I rewarded his willingness to ride with me — and go where he didn’t want to go — with a really juicy pear. Pear schmoo was e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e. I couldn’t get my gooey hands onto the camera fast enough. I only caught the tail-end as he was slurping up the last of the delicious fruit.
He was very, very happy and pleased with himself. I had been telling him what a wonderful and brave horse he had become. I know this place is not his favorite place to ride and I told him I was grateful that he indulged me this time.
PHASE 10 – THANKING THE HORSE GODS
Hubby is always relieved when I come back in one piece after a solo trail ride. I don’t really think about it until I dismount. Then, I thank the horsegods.
As I was thinking about that, my eye caught on the glint of Finn’s saddle medal. I had it made for him. It says, “Bless this Horse” with his name in the middle. I love it. I feel protected. I got it from Sweetbird Studio. Here is the link.
Thanks for coming along! It was a short trip, but a good one. Any time on a horse, out in nature, is a good time by me…
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The October Bucket Fund will benefit Honey Bandit, the most neglected BLM mustang baby who is struggling to survive. To learn all about the Bucket Fund and to donate to this incredible foal, please click on the photo (photo credit, Trish Lowe)