Sunday, November 9, 2008

First time out

Ginger and Ketah have been in the same turn out together for two weeks or so now. While Ginger still has respect issues with me (she almost knocked me down a couple days ago while freaking out over nothing) she respects Ketah quite well. She's been working better on a lead line daily and I thought we should give her a trail lesson today if the rain let us.

I got lucky, today it was not raining (first time in a week it felt like) and at this time of year you have to take every chance you can get. I tacked up Ketah, put the rope halter on Ginger (that was a lesson too, rope halters work much better than flat nylon halters right now) and ponied around the property a bit. She followed pretty happily and I thought we'd do a short trail ride. Right now the gate out the back of the property is locked while they work on the fences so we have to go out via a paved road. Ketah was feeling much more energetic than she has in weeks (though she still needs to gain weight) which promised an interesting ride if she didn't calm down. Ginger was great though, she didn't pick up on Ketah's mood at all. Both of them were in heat though, so I was taking a chance! We walked past other horses, had cars pass us (and people around here are so dang rude, won't slow down even when I'm flagging them), mountain bikers ride past us and dogs run out and bark at us. The only thing that bothered here was having cars come from behind us. She danced a bit, but that was all.

I think the paved bit is about a quarter mile, then we have to walk on a hard pack dirt and gravel road for maybe another quarter. No problem. Then the fun part, trails! The trails here are not like what I grew up with. For the most part they are single track (only enough room to walk single file) trails that started out as deer trails. They aren't maintained trails so they can get very muddy and after this past week the mud was well up over their ankles and sometimes nearly halfway to their hocks. Ketah is still a pain about the mud. I don't really blame her but it's difficult when her attempts to avoid the mud involve taking us through a tree. My knees don't really need that. Ginger was much better about it. Thankfully not taking her cues from my supposedly steady, older horse she went right through nearly all the mud.

So, I took her on the shortest loop trail I know. Again, these aren't easy trails. There just aren't any here. But we went out a single track trail with lots of mud. Up a hill (this is the foothills of the Cascades) then looped around to head back down. We'd been out for maybe 45 minutes (total) at the halfway point and Ginger was getting tired. Ketah on the other hand, would have gladly run a race (literally, first time in weeks!) and I was constantly fighting to slow her down so Ginger could keep up. Yep, first Arabian I've ridden with who didn't keep up with Ketah. But probably as she gets in better shape she will.

Well, I haven't taken any youngsters on these trails before and I made a small mistake. I took Ginger out the easier way, leaving a somewhat more difficult route back. This involved going down a slippery hill, around a couple of hairpin bends, back up a hill and finally a large step over a downed log. She worked her way through all of it! She stopped twice, I think because she was tired and didn't want to think anymore. The first time she stopped was at the top of the hairpin (downhill) bends. I couldn't blame her, it's hard work! She got a little confused by the turns but eventually managed it. The second time when we came to the log. At one point this had been a fairly large tree, but half of it had rotted and Ketah steps over it easily. We were going uphill at this point, and Ginger needed to stop to figure it out. She is still not quite graceful at the moment. This was probably the first time she really had to pay attention to where her feet were and she did a lot of tripping. She did finally step over it with very little urging from me. Then back down the road to home.

Honestly, she did far better than I expected her first time out. Especially with Ketah being her old self (for those of you who know her...). Next time however, I need to do two things. Ketah will be exercised either in the round pen or by riding her the day before (I am glad she's feeling better though)! And Ginger needs horse boots of her own. At least on her front feet, she was pretty ouchy on the rocks.

All in all though, a very successful lesson and a good step on the way to being a good trail horse!


  1. I don't know what to say because I don't know much about horses, but just wanted to let you know I'm reading and entertained!

  2. That's what I was going for. I expect no one other than my mom to anything about the horses out of it :)