Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Monday, September 28, 2009

Riding Backwards...

...well, not literally, this time! ;)

On Thursday, my mom and I switched some things up. She rode Mercy and I rode Starlett. I had a few things to remind Star of and I wanted to watch how Mercy interacted with people, other than myself, riding her. Additionally, we rode the creek trails 'backwards,' the opposite direction we usually ride them on.

This was a neat experience. By riding the same direction all of the time you can miss so many interesting details of the trail and surroundings itself. For example, I have ridden on this creek trail over a dozen times over the summer. This is what I missed each and every time we passed this old growth tree stump:

There are so many super cool fungi and mushrooms on this trail, being so close to the cold water. Every year we search the trail edges for wild edible mushrooms, but we are never lucky. Oh well, at least the inedible ones are pretty!

Mercy was wonderful for my mom. She listened to her even as she rode away from Star and I on one part of the trail. Star was the one that needed reminding on how to stand still until I say so. It didn't take much to correct her, just the pull of one rein to straighten her out.

We continued on our way and made it off the creek trail. We headed up the service rode and rode around in the woods for a while, then we headed back down.

Once past the creek, we loped up the road to the trail to take us home. The day ended much better, weather wise, than it had started:

(Yes, that is Mercy on the left hand side of the barn)

Then, on Sunday, we rode again. We headed out at half time of the Seattle Seahawks game (sad day). We got up the rocky hill and found our ourselves at the apple tree. A few of the smaller apples looked good so I side passed Mercy to the tree and picked a few. After enjoying their snack, we moved the woolly ones on to the tracks. No one was there, so we slow loped for quite a ways.

I wanted to ride in the woods and run up the 'steep curvy' hill, so we took a side trail off the track named by the bikers 'Plan B Trail.' This trail isn't the most horse friendly as the branches on many trees are way low. Even though it's challenging to maneuver, it is a lovely trail, something unlike the other trails in the area. Something unique.

After winding around in the clear cut, we entered the old growth forest. To get to this 'steep and curvy' hill, we had to ride through another trail that is not maintained very well. Since both my mom and I carry pruners, we slowly made our way through the trail, working on it was we went. Mercy knew we were at that hill when we started heading down into the gully. At the bottom she tried taking off, but I put a stop to that. I hadn't even put my pruners away yet! After TrailridinRN made it down with Star we blasted off up the hill. It twists and turns a few time before I ask her to slow down to a trot to make a more dangerous corner. On the other side of the corner is a cliff, which would take us down to the creek, if we were lucky. But after making the corner I let her go a little further.

Making our way home, we find a few more opportunities to lope a little. I'm glad we had such a good ride, cause coming home to the news about our beloved Seahawks drained me. Dang.

At least I didn't have to see their 'new' hideous green uniforms for the second half, lol!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Meandering Along

Yesterday, Mercy and I headed out for an early morning ride before the temperature soared too high. We saddled up quickly and headed out after tossing Star a flake of 'guilt hay.' I really wanted to go for a decently long ride to see if I would come upon any issues in our training, so we headed straight for the old train track. Mercy was poking along the whole time, which has become her new speed of choice recently, for whatever reason. We met a biker on our way up the rocky hill and since it was easier for us to move and allow the biker to continue down the hill, we moved to the side, where Mercy quickly grabbed a snack....grrrr.....

Mercy waddled down the other side of the hill as slow as she could. She has never liked going down this particular hill. I do allow her to stop and listen (for bikers and animals I suppose) so I can do the same. After making it down the hill we stopped by the road to check on the status of the 'wild' apple tree. The fruit this tree produces is super delicious, for me and the horses! Only a week or two more to go!

I was finally able to convince Mercy to continue down the trail and head up onto the train track. We always walk this stretch of the track, which is elevated on both sides, until we clear the wetland area. My plans to lope Mercy the rest of the stretch was, unfortunately, cut short when we spotted a hiker up ahead. I could have jogged her up to the person and passed easily, but I really wanted to lope the whole thing to practice focusing on me and my cues and not on what may be on the side of the trail. Hmmm....

We had closed half the distance between us and the hiker when I turned Mercy on to a side trail. Mercy was focusing way too much on the hiker and not on me, so we took this side trail and eventually looped back onto the track, giving the hiker plenty of time to move on.
We only stayed on the track for a short while, since we had missed our loping opportunity. I guided Mercy onto another trail we don't usually take, but that was no bother to her. It starts off with a pretty steep hill down into the old growth forest. I asked Mercy to jog halfway down the hill to shake things up. We continued to jog out while passing through the old growth. I tried taking pictures, but the lighting wasn't the best. And jogging and shooting isn't my specialty yet, lmao!

Taking another side trail to head back home, we finally slowed to a walk. We made it to the service rode and headed down the gravel road toward the creek. About halfway down we heard some women and a dog heading away from us. After listening to them leave, we continued down the road and into the creek. Mercy just wanted to eat the creek vegetation, so we headed out pretty quickly, but not before snapping these wet fall colors. Wish it wasn't so blurry, but that's the way it goes on an impatient appy...
Picking up an easy lope, we headed back up the service road and through the 'grassy area.' Walking through the woods and into the clear cut, we once again broke into a lope. It was so easy to sit and effortless on her part. Before heading onto our trail, I asked Mercy to walk. It took a while to slow down, but it wasn't a fight either. I think she was just that excited to lope finally! Me too!
When we reached our property, I let her eat a few mouthfuls of grass while I observed Star in her paddock. She called out a few times, but as soon as she stood still and settled, I urged Mercy home. I try to reward Star's calmness by moving closer to her (with Mercy, of course) and it seems to be paying off. I think Star if finally starting to realize that I am not taking Mercy from her forever. We will return. I promise.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Ride Along the Creek

Last evening, TrairidinRN and I headed out for a short ride. I guess the impending sunset decided this, not us. We rode on the creek trail, to the left, which is a nice short loop. We rode along for a while and found a neat scene where some young maples had slumped over and had been taken over by tons of bright green moss. I passed my camera over to my mom and tried to position Mercy so we could hit the light just right. Well, after quite a while of taking pictures, we moved on.

At some point I decided that Mercy's cinch was too loose and jumped off to tighten it. Of course, this became a photo op, lol! I was pretty much unaware of this until I went to get back on. Thank goodness I can turn away quickly! No, really I don't mind that much. I'm just not use to someone else holding the camera. After scolding Mercy for trying to eat the ferns, I jumped up and we continued down the trail.

I'm not quite sure why I am leaning to the left so much here but I would take a guess that I was avoiding a floating spider. I do that a lot. Dodging spiders strung along and in the path of the trail has almost become a crazy game. Can't deny that I usually win... ;)
After leaving the creek trail we swung back onto a trail that would take us home. After attempting to run up a pretty steep, but short hill (Mercy trotted the whole thing, lazy butt...) we took a detour to get one more shot. The vine maples in the area are just spectacular right now, so Mercy and I posed for the shot. Turned out quite nice. The trees should have even more vibrant color as the fall season wears on, so we will be back again.

Today, the girls had it easy. Eat. Sleep. Poop. Eat some more. Poop some more. Misting from the hose by mom to keep them cool in this unusually hot fall weather. Eat.

Tomorrow they won't be so lucky! :)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Catching Up (again)...

It's been quite a while since I've updated you all on our riding adventures, so here we go with a quick update:

Star's knees seem to be responding nicely to the injections.

So far so good. She has been staying in the upright position and her knee and shoulder jerks have stopped for the most part. I have not ridden her myself yet, but she appears to have a longer stride and smooth gaits. Being able to reach and drive has really freed up her front end, allowing her much greater mobility. She is a new trail horse, ready to take the lead again.

Last week, my sister and I decided to head over to the creek for some photos. Unfortunately, on our way there we encountered some very rude individuals with their pack of dogs, most off leash. I tried to get them to talk, to acknowledge us, but they walked right on by without a word. Since they were so unfriendly, we didn't want to follow (of course they were going to the creek...) so we headed to the lake. It was a wonderful decision!
When we got there, the horses were very distracted with all of the long green grass. Usually we bring them there to eat, not stand around, so they were very fidgety. We walked around to find the perfect photo spot, when I spotted some geese resting on the grass near the water. Tee hee! *evil smiley* I pointed Mercy toward them and hoped she would take the hint. They all stood up when we got about 20 feet away and waddled toward the water. I asked Mercy to walk faster, to which she happily complied. We tracked them to the lake edge and then they took a short flight into the water. As they splashed down, Mercy got a little nervous. The noise was a lot louder than what I thought a couple dozen geese could make, oops... Now, only if we had some cows... ;)

We got some awesome shots! The lighting was much better for me to take pictures of my sister than for her to take some of myself, but that's fine. I like working on my photo taking skills. It took a while to get Star to stand still and as soon as she did a new group of people and tiny dogs walked by. This was where my better pics developed. Star loves little things, so her ears were forward, her eyes glistened, and she stood very still.
Mercy was not as cooperative, but Kimberly was able to get a couple of really good shots. I like this one the best because the goose in the back is raising it's rear out of the water as if to say "You didn't get me, nah nah nah nah boo boo!" Plus, her ears are forward!
There were a couple of other short rides since then, but this is the one from last night. We did the train track loop and tested out the new flank cinch for Mercy. She could care less, she's had them on before. Star was a little spitfire, so while on the track she took the lead. This gave her the chance to move out comfortably and Kimberly a chance to relax her hands and arms.

I'm really going to try and record EVERY ride from now on, no matter how small or ridiculous. It's been difficult because uploading pics are a pain in the ass, but I created this blog mainly to keep track of everything horse related as a personal history. So, look forward to more updated and more breakthroughs!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Knees and Rain

We finally broke down and did it. We injected Star's knees. After such a long time being off-and-on lame, as well as stumbly, we decided to give this a chance. Dr. DeWard came out on Friday morning and took good care of my yellow one. Both horses also got their fall RhinoFlu shot. I wasn't there to watch, but supposedly Star was really good for everything. She's on stall/paddock rest for 5 days, then we can start reintroducing her to work. Until then, Mercy and I can't go for rides unless someone is home to wrangler the crazy stallion mare. Star will run herself into a full body sweat when Mercy and I head out alone, which usually I could care less about, but now, since she's supposedly 'resting' and not supposed to be active, we have only been on one ride.

Our ride was only possible thanks to TrailridinRN. She haltered up Star and hand grazed her while Mercy and I headed out last rainy Sunday. Mercy was going stir-crazy in her stall/paddock, being all couped up with Gimpy. I think she knew what was up when I pulled her out of her stall cause she stood stock still while I groomed her up. She also willingly, with enthusiasm, walked up to the garage to saddle up. My dad held her while I got my Outback on, my mom grabbed Star, and we headed out.

Right out of our back gate Mercy was ready to go. We trotted all the way to the main trail! if you recall, the last couple of times we headed out alone Mercy has REALLY poked along leaving the house. We got to the creek in record time and ran up the hill to the wooded trails. We trotted faster than I think she can canter (and thank goodness she doesn't have a 'death trot,' no matter how fast she goes) almost to the next service road when we heard what was up ahead. Big rigs and gravel equipment. I couldn't tell how close they were, so we took a trail to the left and walked a loop back to the service road.

Instead of heading back home, we crossed the road and completed a few switchbacks. We ended up at the top of the gravel hill by the lake. After letting a biker pass, we headed down. She decided she didn't want to go to the lake so we continued our way back home, after long trotting up yet another service road. As soon as we got home it started to sprinkle. Perfect.

Since that ride, I have only jumped on bareback for a few laps around the pasture and a few spins. Oh, and I guess we herded Star around too. She needed a dose of her own medicine. ;)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Weekly Riding Report!

Last Friday, Mercy and I continued our solo rides out on the trails. She moved out REALLY slow when we left. I thought she might have been sore because of her new shoes, so I let her meander along. We headed over to the lake so we could enjoy the sweet summer blackberries. On our way there, we stopped so Mercy could eat some grass. I wasn't going to stop, but she was being real good. Good horses deserve good rewards, lol! I know this pic's blurry, but I like it: Then, we walked over to the lake. We got into the lake and she thought she heard something:

Then she went back to playing in the water:

After eating a few berries a little way further up the trail, we headed home. Of course she walked briskly. *sigh* :
After meeting a biker headed to the lake (a minor distraction, thank goodness) we found our way home as the sun began to set.
Then, on Sunday, TrailRidinRN and I headed back out onto the trail. I very skillfully bribed my mom into riding first this day. ;P Little did she know, at the time, that the creek trail was full of spiders stretched across the trail. I have to share the fun, don't I?!?
In reality, Mercy was once again very slow and not really her usual high-paced self. Star felt the need to walk with lots of life, so onto the front of the line she went! Tee hee!
On Monday, I took Mercy for another solo ride. She was again very slow and never really moved out. Since she was taking her time moving forward I decided we would go to the creek again, but this time we would go to the new trail, following the creek to the left. She did a wonderful job picking through the rocks and roots crossing the trail. On the way home she picked up some energy, of course, but quickly and quietly came back to a more easy going walk when I asked her to. While we were gone, Star worked her self up into a full body lather. That was a really bad day for her. Nothing was going right for her.
Finally, my sister and I headed out for a short trail ride yesterday. We did the same ride I had just done with Mercy. Pretty uneventful ride. A little faster, but still enjoyable.
I'm house/horse sitting today and tomorrow, Star is getting knee injections tomorrow, and then the rains come in for the weekend, but as soon as I can ride again Mercy and I will begin our log dragging exercises! Fun fun!