Sunday, January 25, 2009

I FINALLY understand the meaning of "flat out" gallop. :)

Got to go on a trail ride yesterday. I'm going to tell the story like I told it to a friend of mine. :)

So, arrived at the barn and hurried out to the pasture to get Tiki. He saw me coming and was like, "Oh please, not AGAIN!" The peppermint almost didn't work, but his desire for sugar overcame his desire to run away. I caught him with the lead rope around his neck, put the halter on, and took him into the barn where I tied him up to groom him. I debated my tack choices as I brushed him; the usual stuff, or my 'trial stuff' (a figure 8 nose band and running martingale; neither of which I've ever used on him). Luckily, common sense prevailed, and I used his 'usual' stuff since I had no idea where we were going.

Decided against longeing him. So, I got on a nice, fresh horse with the biggest group we've ridden with yet (6 horses), and decided it would be super smart to trot over and hop over the little rail road tie before heading out. I LAUGHED when he cantered in to it with this lovely little snorting collected canter. We then proceeded to jig up to the top of the hill. Sat still through a few weird little spook jumps, I have NO idea what those were about. Jigged out the gate, down the road, and into the woods. Upon entering the woods, he decided a little buck would be in order. I growled at him to cut it out, and rubbed his neck in the hopes that he would settle down. Was walking down the big hill dodging tree branches heading into the trails where he decided to JUMP the little log instead of stepping over like a smart horse. Hey, we'd just jumped a few minutes ago, he was just doing what he thought was the right thing to do. Leaped over a few more twigs and tree brances lying across the trail before he finally decided that was more effort than just walking over it. The front of the group took off at a rapid, working trot, and we once again practiced our lovely little collected canter, complete with a wild sounding Thoroughbred snort every stride.;)

All was well until we once again arrived at the dreaded WATER PUDDLE. Once again, the group crossed and walked away, and once again we stopped dead like a statue. This time I was smart, and had brought my crop, so I brought it down pretty hard a few times behind my leg. Think that worked? Uh, no. We stopped and stood stock still for a minute with me kicking, growling, patting, begging, and generally looking like an idiot. I brought the crop behind my leg again, but this time did several small, encouraging smacks behind the leg, and stopped the SECOND he took a step forward. One of the ladies with us shouted at me to take my time, the others could just WAIT. I slipped him the reins completely when he stuck his nose down to take a gander at the water. I could feel him shore up his courage to go across. He was aimed RIGHT at a huge tree branch. "Please don't kill me!" were the final words I uttered before he LEAPT into the puddle and galloped through before jolting to a stop and narrowly missing planting his head up Star's butt. I praised, patted, and cooed over him as everyone continued on their merry way.

It was interesting! He is definitely a prissy boy. It was fairly muddy, and at some places on the trail, he felt like a gaited horse picking his way through the mud. We had a few little minor looksies, but no more bucks or other mis behaviors. Trotted at 100 mph a few times, his little legs pumping like pistons, but it was ok. Made our loop and got back to the puddle, and I had to HOLD HIM BACK this time from just charging on through. He was like, "LOOK MA! I'm BRAVE!!", and once again galloped through the water, splashing me, himself, and the horse in FRONT of him, lol. Threre were no crazy mountains this time, just a nice fairly flat trail with lots of mud. We made it back to the barn in about an hour or so. We'd started out at 3:30, so didn't have a ton of time anyway. So, once we got back into the back pasture, heading down to the barn, Joyce (the bo) offered up the back 15 acres to go ride in for a bit. I took her up on it because I'd never been back there.

Of course, there were boys in a pickup truck loading wood for the bonfire, and the neighbors at the top of the hill were target practicing with a cannon. The 2 ladies that like to RUN were somewhere in the vicinity of behind me, running, and I figured it would be a good idea to trot around the pasture. Well, we did, with a little cross canter added on the end. Came back down to the walk, trotted some more, rode fairly near the cannon fire, decided that was a bad idea and headed back over to a nice, inviting hill that was just begging for a little gallop ...

I thought my gallop across the pasture had been fast. I thought my little schoolies galloping up the "galloping hill" at PWF were fast. I thought riding my 4 wheeler in 5th gear was fast. No, it wasn't. When you're galloping on a RACEHORSE at full speed, his back is totally FLAT, and you don't feel his legs pumping under you at all. It was like flying. We got close to the top, and I lowered my seat into the saddle, said "whoa", and put gentle pressure on the reins. He came RIGHT back to me, no problem. He snorted his happiness, breathed out a big breath, and nosed the reins out of my hands. I made him walk to cool out, and WALKED up that same hill so he wouldn't get it in his little pea brain that we would GALLOP every time up a hill.

Bottom line, I'm thanking God for this crazy, impulsive decision I made to go get this horse. No, he's not perfect ... however, I'm thinking he is perfect for ME. I pray he stays sound for many more years, and we are able to continue growing and learning together. So far, I'm really enjoying the journey!!! :):)


  1. Ah Jen, welcome to the Flat Out Gallop club. Your official merit badge will be in the mail shortly.

    Now, my responses to your post.

    - Yay on the foregoing of untried "trial tack" for venturing off into new frontiers. I've been less sensible, including using the "racing bridle" to take Be to the beach for the first time. Can we say SHIT No brakes!? I did, however, learn why the rubber goes so far down the rein. I was all the way up them, steering and trying to stay on.

    - Ah the fresh horse! You're brave. I'll be honest, I've been giving a calming suppliment when I know we're in for a potentially interesting ride. Be works well on the powdered Quietex, and now I'm trying Calm and Cool as it comes in a nice pellet. This time of year she just doesn't expend enough energy in 3-6 hours turnout in the snow covered pasture.

    - Is the collected canter one where he's balancing off your hands? That's the "safe" canter I can get Be to do across a field, but it's taxing on my arms. It's also the one used to exercise them in the mornings, and very heavy on the forehand. I'm picturing the snort, as it's very audible as they go around in the mornings. They have amazing lung capacity.

    - The water. Can anyone in the group pony him across? He might get braver, and not surge through it, with a buddy to cross with. They kind of flip a mental switch to go along with the horse next to them when ponied.

    - Target practicing with a cannon?? Wow.

    - And the gallop. THE gallop. THE GALLOP. It is indeed your horse lending you wings. TBs are so amazingly smooth and sure of their strides too. I bet you were "making time" as we say on the track.

    Remember, TB racing speed approaches ~45 MPH. My husband's favorite horse can run 2 furlongs (quarter mile, same as QH racers do) in :21 and change. QH racing speed, which of course they can't sustain the distance a TB can, will approach ~55 MPH.

  2. I'm so glad I've figured out how to comment! I was blog challenged there for a bit!:) I KNOW that we were faster than my fourwheeler in 5th gear. It was SO amazing. Not something I'll do every day, but I think the baby needs a good gallop to clear his mind every now and again.

    Yup, the "collected canter" is that one where he's all round and up in my hands, very heavy on the forehand.

    He was ponied through the first time. His problem is he is so NERVOUS in close proximity to other horses. Neither of the girls he goes out with go on the trail since one is 45 and the other has seizures and isn't ridden (they're literally just baby sitters!). I just need to go out with ONE other person that is fine to just wait around and let me train on him a little bit. The horse is dang smart, he just has a small stubborn streak.;)