December 9, 2013

A Slow Walk in the Woods

It has rained almost every day this week. Like down pour making everything soupy rain. The good news is that it has been in the 70s (in December...I love the South :) I'd bet the Dynamic Duo was happy for the rain. It probably kept them cool.

This Saturday I was determined to get out on the trails again. Sunday was supposed to be a hunter pace, but it was on private trails and they postponed it a week to hopefully have things dry up. I am not too optimistic though because this week is supposed to be equally as rainy, but colder so things probably won't dry up all that much. We will see. The other problem with next weekend is that the hubs has signed himself up for a 54 mile race up a mountain on Saturday. I'm not so sure he will be up for a pace on Sunday. We will see what happens.

Anyway....the hubs worked in the morning and W's nap schedule worked out that he woke up as the hubs was getting home so we made it to the trail head about 3 pm again. Not enough time to do the entire loop. Some day we will do that darn loop!

I used the old fleece Ovation girth on her that's 22". I have no clue how, but it fits on the same hole as the 18". It has a ton of elastic in it - runs the entire length instead of just the ends - so I would have thought it would be way too big. I kept it a little looser and it sat pretty nicely on her. I decided to give it a go.

I have a tiny worry in the back of my head that I'm asking her to do something she hates - riding in general. She is such a tough cookie to figure out. She is very aloof but if I miss seeing her for a while I can definitely tell she is unhappy about it. Well, once I started to tack her up her ears pricked forward and she started to paw which is her way of saying "lets get going here!!" Its a good signs that she is enjoying herself. She remembered to pee before I got on. She hates going with me on her and I think she may have only done so a handful of times in 4 years. If she forgets she ends up holding it the entire ride and as soon as I get off she goes for a very long time.

We headed down the hill to the trail head and entered the woods over the same wooden bridge of doom as before. She hesitated but got over it much easier than the last time.

Last week the hubs had turned left almost immediately into the woods and said the trails were very nice. Knowing my time was too limited to make the entire green loop, I decided to head left and check it out. We stayed a little ways in front of the hubs, W, and the two dogs and wandered through and over a road crossing.

The trails after the road were really nice. Double wide and open. The only issue was the footing was rocky. It was an access road and while it wasn't gravel it had quite a few rocks. Normally Gem doesn't mind that type of footing, but it has been very wet out and her feet looked a bit soft when I cleaned them out pre ride. I think she got a little foot sore for the first time.
Sorry, all my pics today are blurry. She didn't want to stop for picture taking

There was a big, long hill that had me thinking about hill repetitions once things dry back out. We wandered up it with the rest of the crew not too far behind us. She wasn't really wanting to stretch out much and the trails were wet in enough spots that I didn't mind taking it easy. There were sections that had no rocks and were fairly dry and we trotted those.

There was a lovely looking side trail at one point and I headed down it. No rocks. The footing was mostly pine needles and the trail was single track and winding just like Gem like. But it was very, very soupy and this Carolina red clay gets slick, so I quickly turned her around before we got hurt and went back to the double wide trail. The boys caught up to us at this point, but the trail got less rocky, so I let her trot again until the top.

Once at the top of the hill we came across the greenest patch of vegetation I have seen in a very long time. As I got closer to it I found out it was a patch of clover. Gemmie had her eyes on it so I let her wander in and have a quick bite and waited for the rest of the crew. It was very hard to get her to leave her buffet.

We travelled down the trail some more, but it started to go sharply down hill and got rocky again. My saddle slid all the way over her shoulders and she got cranky. I slid off and jogged her down and then we waited for the crew again. Once they caught up to us I noticed we had been out for about 45 minutes so we decided to turn back around and go home. I adjusted her saddle back to the right spot and got back on.

My boys

Hero - the best dog ever. 14 years old now.
Well, I don't know if it was the footing, her soft feet (made me really, really, really wish for that money tree so I could get a pair of boots for her to ride in) or the saddle sliding forward and pinching her shoulders, but she was done. She slid in behind the hubs and just wanted to follow him the rest of the way back..

At one point the hubs started to jog (W loves it when he runs in the backpack) and I just stayed quiet on Gem with a loose rein to see what she would do. She picked up a nice little trot and kept up with him until he walked again and then she did too. I bet it was a little unnerving having her breathe down his neck!

I tried to get her around him, but then she spotted Hero and tucked in behind him. Literally. She walked right behind him, lowered her head to hide her nose behind his butt almost dragging it one the ground, and happily walked along. It is a very sad day when your "endurance" Arabian mare walks slower than your 14 year old 1 foot tall corgi. But there it is. My Gemmiecakes.

We wandered along chatting with the hubs. Well, I chatted. He basically spent the rest of the hike laughing at my pokey slow horse going 1 mph and taking a video to post online. I got off again down the large hill we came up because the saddle slid way too much down hill for me to be happy. I got back on and we crossed the road and made it back to the trailer on our own.

The only bad spot of the entire ride was at the very end. I untacked her and she rested a foot as is her norm. But then she absolutely, positively refused to get into the trailer. She has never, ever, ever done that in 4 years. When I bought her I was told she did not trailer well and give her an hour to get on, but we never once had a problem. The last 2 solo rides she did fine. But not this time. She reared, she backed, she stopped. We tried a butt rope to push her in. No go. The hubs literally lifted up her hind legs and butt and pushed. No go. Although her incredibly shocked expression was well worth it. Finally I opened up the divider all the way to make it a huge space and she got on into Pete's spot. I don't know what was with that, but hopefully that doesn't become a new issue to deal with. Of note, she did end up actually peeing with me on her on the trail and then again back at the barn. Maybe she is in heat. I don't know if that would make a difference or not. are some thoughts on this:

1. I think in the end Gem does enjoy these rides. She is eager to go down the trail and only acts up once I make her turn around and head back home. But not in a trying to run off back to the trailer way. More in a "but I don't want to go back yet" way. Yay!

2. She knows those trails. When we made the left instead of going straight at the very beginning she kept trying to tell me we were going wrong. Once we were headed back and we got back to the original trail and she tried turning left to go longer instead of right to go back to the trailer.

3. She is pokey. I don't know why or how to help this other than keep riding her and trying to get her butt moving. I know she can go faster for longer. With 62 completion miles as well as the two hunter paces under our belt I know she can. I just don't know how to pull that out of her solo.

4. I think she needs a break from the solo rides and ride with a buddy. I really hope the pace goes next week and that the hubs can ride after his race. She enjoys going out with Pete so much and then he could also be in the trailer with her so it would be a nice mental holiday for her.

5. I have a tough decision to make. Well, the obvious decision is probably to stop riding her until I get things sorted out, but I am not ready to do that yet. So....I have 1 girth that allows the saddle to sit farther back (not ideal spot but best I can some up with right now) to the point where she isn't sore, but causes rubs. I have another girth that does not cause any rubs at all but allows the saddle to pull very far forward and I think is why she hates the girth so much. It seemed to bother her on this ride. Which do I use if I do go on the hunter pace?? I think I will do the anatomic one and try to slather a butt load of Vaseline on her armpits to see if it will prevent some of the rubbing. I don't like how she was reluctant to move out with me on this ride and either it was her feet or her girth. Since she has hated this girth in the past I am going with that being the culprit.

6. I need new tack. Period. I absolutely adore this saddle, but it just isn't working out. It isn't made for Gemmie's body structure and I keep fighting it. I wish it wasn't so incredibly comfortable for me or it would be easy to get rid of. But here is the kicker: I have yet to find anything better. I have tried literally dozens of saddles of all makes, models and brands from cheap to $$$ and not a single one has fit as good as or better than this one. I refuse to sell this until I find one that is better, so on the hunt I go again. What I would really like to do is pick up a used saddle that works and then give mine to the hubs and Pete who has more of the body type for the saddle. That way we can keep it and if by chance my next horse 10 years from now fits it, I still have it to use.

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