OK, so I haven’t ridden Finn since the last time I wrote about riding Finn. Let’s see… (scrolling through my previous blogs…)
Yup. The date was May 8th. Two months ago almost exactly… (You can read that post here. Weird how I titled that one with a song, too.)
I HATE that I haven’t ridden in that long. Bad for my soul…
But, as I type before you, I am running through all the excuses as to WHY I haven’t ridden… It’s hot, I was on a hell job for a month, I had no boots for him, all the weekends were rainy, the weekends that weren’t rainy were too hot, we had weekends out of town, the Herpes Virus was out there… the list goes on and on.
But you know what, there is only ONE reason that I haven’t ridden when I could have ridden…
The memory of Aladdin.
RIDING WITHOUT ALADDIN
You all may have heard me mention Aladdin. He was my riding partner for 15 years. I miss him terribly.
Aladdin was easy, he knew my every move and I knew his. He was game and sound and smart and totally trustworthy. His cadence was easy and he always had tractable spunk. He loved me and I knew he would do his best to take care of me.
I rode him all the time because it was easy to ride him all the time.
I know that Aladdin wasn’t perfect, but I have to remind myself of that every time I sit on Finn and compare.
I should know better than to compare Finn to Aladdin because my in-laws cannot seem to get over the fact that their son/brother, my Hubby, has married someone other than his first wife. I just don’t cut it in their minds. I don’t really exist. I’m not good enough. She was the first and the only. The best.
Those sentiments totally crush me…
And I’m doing the same thing to Finn.
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH
I finally took a long, hard look at the Aladdin/Finn situation and chastised myself for not appreciating the wonderful, goofy horse I have in Finn.
Sure, we don’t click exactly like Aladdin and I did… but I haven’t ridden Finn near enough to have the rider/horse telepathy.
So, I decided to set my alarm, get up really early before the heat, and ride.
LITTLE RED BOOTIES
One of my plans for Finn was to remove his shoes and let his feet become the feet they should be. I don’t want to get into it here because his story is long, but suffice it to say that most people don’t breed their horses to get “great feet”.
Well, Finn’s feet are very strong but he has always been, and will always be, a ‘tender foot’. Stepping on a rock practically sends him into tippy-toe conniption fits. So, I decided to get him some boots.
The red ones were on sale…
I figured we could ride a short way and see how it went.
We set out on the regular trail but this time it was very flowery!
Poor Finn stopped at every blackberry bramble, expecting me to hop off and harvest a few berries for him – we did this often during the Fall and obviously it made quite an impression on him.
Sadly, he didn’t get the concept that there was no fruit yet. So, he was greatly disappointed when I didn’t honor his request.
Alas, we carried on…
Back to Aladdin for a moment.
One wonderful thing about Aladdin was that he would stop at any branch that was in his way or mine. I loved that about him. He knew exactly where to place the offending branch so I could easily reach over and snip it.
I have no real memory of how Aladdin learned this, but I was determined to teach Finn. Today was the day.
Every time we ran into a branch or blackberry vine, I’d stop Finn, place him exactly where I wanted him, snip the branch and then praise him.
He would whip his face around and ask for a treat which I gave to him – like a numbskull.
So, the game began.
Finn would veer off the trail just to brush up against any wayward vine or branch.
Finn: “Here Human, trim this one and give me a treat!”
Me: Finn, this branch is not even on the trail. We don’t need to trim it.
Finn: “Sure we do! Owey Ouch, it is hurting me, trim it now!”
So, we zig-zagged down the trail for a while as he looked for potential treat-trimming opportunities.
But, it was kinda funny… <smile>
THESE BOOT WERE MADE FOR WALKIN’!
Wow! I was really impressed with the boots! Finn was, too!
He walked out very strong and seemed to be quite excited that the rocks didn’t hurt.
In fact, he was able to track downhill much easier than previously. I’m not sure the science behind this but I do know that before, he would race down hills. It was as if he wanted to get it over with.
His back is fine. He isn’t out of whack… so I couldn’t figure it out.
But today, with the boots on, he walked calmly down every decline. Nice.
Perhaps they have better traction than his bare feet. Dunno.
I have mentioned before that I train all of my trail horses to halt to the zipper sound.
Actually, I never trained any of them… they just do because they know what the zipper sound means.
The zipper sound means that either Human is answering her phone, or that they get a treat.
If the zipper sound is not preceded by the phone ringing sound, they KNOW they are in for a treat. So, they stop really, really fast.
I hate this and love it at the same time. Truly, there is no greater joy than bringing your crazy or wild horse’s attention back to you by merely zipping your pouch. It works every time. I swear.
I remember when Finn and I met up with 35 llamas in a llama trail-packing class. He freaked. I zipped. It was all better.
RED BOOTIE MARKS
We got back to the trailer after a very pleasant and successful ride.
Finn was proud of himself, I could tell. I praised him highly, I rubbed his face when I took off his headstall and he got to lick the bottom of the treat bag.
All was good…
Until I took off the boots.
The red dye had come off on his heels. This made me think that they were too small or rubbing.
The area wasn’t sore, but I was concerned so I took these photos and sent them to the company for analysis.
I’ll let you know what they say. I’m hoping there is a simple solution because the boots certainly were helping him.
Yes, Finn is not Aladdin.
But, Finn is here and he is willing to go with me on trailrides.
And, to be honest, his horsey mind totally cracks me up. His goofy nature is far more entertaining than Aladdin’s stoic self.
Aladdin would never go out of his way to stand under a branch that needs trimming – just to get a treat – then turn his head around and look right at me as if to say,
“Hey Human, what are you waiting for? Cut the darn branch so I can get my treat. Sheesh. Do I have to teach you EVERYTHING?”
Now THAT was funny!
HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth… if you like this, please pass it around!
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I love your story’s about Finn, and I know the value of a horse such as Aladdin. And the comparison too. I compared Libby to Sissy all the time for the first year. Now I don’t. Libby is unique as well as Sissy was unique. Once I stopped comparing, Libby and I bonded a lot more. It is amazing how that happened. When I was in the comparing mode, it was like she knew it and knew she could not live up to Sissy, and she kept her distance. Now that I do not compare, and 100% of my thoughts go to Libby, she is a lot more tuned into me. It takes a while, and it takes a horse to wake us up! I hope you and Finn have many more trail riding experiences….Love the zipper training! LOL I need to try that! LOL Oh, and I want to get boots for Libby too, where did you get the red ones?
Would LOVE to hear more stories like this. It was entertaining, helpful (zipper stops) and it would mean you are riding!
Finn is such a sweetheart. How lucky you can go out on the trail alone, and not have him jiggy or terrified because he does not have his other horsey buddys to protect him.