Thankfully the miserable, wet weather subsided just in time for my birthday on Remembrance Day. I had given Annie a very light lunge a few days prior to that, just to shake our non-existent routine up a bit. The re-addition of the neck-stretcher seemed to confuse her at first, but she quickly relaxed into the contact and even offered some nice stretching despite the ground being quite wet and slippery.
In fine Annie fashion, she was quite at ease with the exercise - so much so that every time a "good girl" or "ye-ES" left my lips, she slammed herself back into a very quiet and... leisurely-like walk. I had half-expected a lap or two of mach 10 trotting... or at the very least some sassy head shaking.
Truth be told tho, Annie has never lunged or ridden out fresh as a porpoise surfing the waves. She can be giddy and quick, but it typically never amounts to much more than a slight head wag or glee-filled squeal.
|About as excited as she got, lol.|
I'm pretty glad she doesn't feel compelled to test her wings tho, because I don't know how talented my sticky-seat is anymore. We have had our share of several bucks, and mild rearing tantrums tho, so I can't say it is all peaches and roses... and for all of those occasions I have managed to keep my breeches firmly seated in the saddle. Of course the time I didn't double check my girth in my first clinic of the year, I fell off due to equipment malfunction vs misbehaviour. And when I broke my nose not even two weeks before that (oh yes, I broke my nose... one day I will blog about that), it had everything to do with ground conditions and nothing to do with the horse.
So for that, I am thankful.
Thankful for my (mostly) earth-bound horse, haha.
I started off my birthday weekend right - playing hooky from an afternoon at work and instead, heading out to catch a ride on my mare! The air was cool and mild, and despite an evening's worth of rain, the skies were clear and held a promise of sunshine throughout the weekend.
As we set out for a ride, Annie wandered out quite content and relaxed. We hadn't hacked out since Hallowe'en, which meant things that had (very mildly) changed (and some things that had been there for years...) were scary. One or two spooks and then she settled into the routine with ease.
It was a nice quick ride around the block, and I was able to throw in quite a few walk-trot-halt transitions. She feels weak, but willing, which I'll take any day of the week. A nice long, strung-out canter down the dirt road and I felt on top of the world, hah. Of course, that canter came to a screeching halt when the new playground they had just built came into view.
Several kids were out playing and at one point, I contemplated hopping off and leading her past. She stood and stared for a while before being urged to continue on. A large hunk of machinery (painted a very offensive red color to Annie's mare mind) gave her the heebie jeebies, but we stealthily passed it before it could reach out and grab us, haha.
|Surveying her kingdom - in search of things that have changed.|
Once we passed the threshold of the machine, Annie snorted loudly and blew out a long sigh. It's tough being a flight animal around inanimate objects.
Three days later it was my birthday, and N excitedly texted me that she was ready to ride.
I headed out to the barn and tacked up a very quiet mare before heading out. She has been pretty good about leaving the barn - once or twice she has reverted to trying to drag me down the driveway, but the addition of treats when I mount up and whenever we stop has mostly curbed that habit. It's a silly thing, I guess, but it works for us.
I hop up, feed a treat, adjust myself and turn on the Equisense. Ask her to walk out. Ask to halt, feed a treat and then we head out. Sometimes I ask her to stop again randomly along our route, and other times I let her reel the reins out of my hands until my fingers stop at the buckle.
This ride was a little more animated than the previous, as Annie was very
happy to see AJ. I had brought Spud along to pony, since I hadn't gotten any kind of indication Annie would be bad. I was right, and she was a peach.
|As evidenced, two peaches!|
Unfortunately, the day was so nice that the subdivision was abuzz with activity. Early into our ride, we had to pass the super scary playground - on this particular day, one of the moms had sent a message out on the subdivisions facebook group that there would be a scheduled playdate. Right for when we wanted to ride, haha.
No biggie - I see it as an opportunity for desensitization anyways.
What I did not expect tho, was the absolute hoards of kids, dogs, strollers, parents, wagons, cars... oh my goodness. A young girl furiously biked up behind us with a wagon attached - it bounced and ricketed along the asphalt before she slowed and asked kindly, "Is it OK if I go past you?" I smiled, nodded, and watched as both horses surveyed the contraption with mild curiosity.
They were, however, much more interested in the playground. A few dogs came darting over, barking and carrying on. Their owners were quick to contain them tho, so no harm no foul. Several young children sprinted from the playground, shouting, "HorSES!!!"Their parents rounded them up before they could get to us, which I wholly appreciated.
|Unrelated media. This is Annie running away from the gaggle of children, lol.|
Annie was tense and nervous, her muscles flinching and her eyes wide. I just nudged her onwards and let her stop to look when she needed to. The bustling activity in what was once a very quiet part of the subdivision will take some time to get used to, I imagine.
From there, we wandered up the dirt road and Annie fell into pace quietly as we left the screaming kids behind. It did not last long tho, as two young girls on an ATV came absolutely fucking screeching down the road. I took to the wider bend of the road, ensuring that they would see me in time. They saw me, but they did not slow down.
The horses both flinched as water from potholes sprayed and the machine roared. I called out angrily, "Hey!" but neither seemed to look back.
For the most part, recreational vehicles are very respectful of us and I wasn't so sure where these young girls' manners were. I was glad they had gone past though, and carried on quietly before the soft roar of the ATV motor started back up the road....
|This was taken literally a few minutes before she came|
barreling up behind us...
This was after she had passed us the first time.
They had turned around and were headed back my way.
This time I KNEW they knew I was there. They had passed me a few lousy minutes before, they saw my horse's reactions and they KNEW I would be on the road.
A family of four had started to walk down the road as well, and I groaned inwardly as we closed the distance between one another. We had just passed eachother as the two girls on the quad squeezed in between the distance, cranked the ATV over to the side of the road /I/ was on, and proceeded to splash through the remaining puddles.
I fucking lost it.
"What the fuck?!" I called after them.
Annie fidgeted beneath me and shied, which I don't really blame her.
The one girl turned her head back and laughed, continuing to blast away.
The horses calmed in a matter of seconds, which I was grateful for. But I more or less was pissed because had it been a young child on a horse (or perhaps me on a younger/greener horse??) it may have not ended well.
|A very dirty Annie to break up my wall-o-text-rage!|
I work hard to desensitize my horses to noises, a variety of engines, and strive for positive interaction between myself and recreational drivers. I have only had a handful of instances that left a sour taste in my mouth, and this was one of them.
If you want to splash through the puddles, and I happen to be on that side of the road, why not give me 60 fucking seconds to move?
Horses, as trained as they are, are unpredictable and stupid. It was a cold, crisp Winter day and I was riding a young horse that hadn't been out in a while. It was the perfect recipe for a disaster.
And while I understand there are inherent dangers, there is no need to be a blatant jackass. There have been situations where I was trying to ride a very hyper and excited Suzie down the road and as I was trying to dismount (for safety), a car rocketed past me as she was fucking cantering sideways. Like... what?!
I have been known to purposely walk in the middle of the road, to discourage drivers from speeding past or weaving around us as we ride.
The instances are few and far between, but holy cow that made me mad.
|Annie on auto-pilot.|
I met up with Nicole not long after, and the first words out of my mouth were "Where did the fucking kids on the ATV go?"
We did attempt to find them, but a lot of the homes aren't build close to the road and I had no desire to wander up long, winding driveways. I posted a scathing message on the facebook group and most shared my worries... although no one seemed to know who the kids were... so maybe they weren't from the subdivision.
I managed to calm down and forget about the stupid kids and soon N and I settled into an easy flow of conversation. Annie was quite animated, as I mentioned before. She wasn't naughty, but certainly more hyped than usual. Her steps felt bolder, quicker, and stronger. Her head was set higher, her ears more attentive.
There was one part where she spooked hard at something and nearly tripped over her own feet. Once recovered, she seemed quite embarrassed. I told Nicole, "I thought for sure we were going down." Oh, mare. (as a sidenote, our equilab tracked the spook as a canter, haha).
|Our whole red speck of canter, haha. You can see it on the lower|
portion of the map.
It was a pleasant ride tho, and as we headed towards the dirt road to split off in our respective directions, N asked if I wanted to split up before the playground. I shrugged, declared it a good desensitizing experience and pursued onwards.
Of course, AJ was quite hesitant to walk past the playground, as he hadn't passed it yet haha. This in turn made Annie also unsure. "We passed this before, but my BFF says it might be dangerous soooo... I'll just wait thanks."
Both horses did eventually wander on by and much to Annie's displeasure, we turned around and walked passed it again to get home, hahaha!!! You would think with each pass, the kids would get used to us walking by but no... each time they ran frantically towards us, arms outstretched like zombies. The parents did a great job at containing them tho, and we didn't end up with any squished toes.
It was a great way to end the weekend and I was very happy I had the opportunity to ride, as most years it has already snowed and the roads can be quite iffy once ice forms, or I am working and unable to make it out before nightfall.
This year, I got lucky with a day off and good weather!