Wednesday, November 28, 2018

That Time I Thought We Ruined a Children's Playground

The Thursday afternoon following my birthday held much promise in the weather department. So much so that I left work early and was able to put a ride in on Annie before having to pack for Quebec. Earlier in the week we had gotten an unfortunate phone call that the SO's grandmother had passed away after a short battle with health complications following a stroke. It wasn't necessarily a shock, as we knew her health had drastically declined over the period of a few short weeks. The SO had wanted to go both for the respect to his grandmother's memory, as well as the inevitable catching up with relatives he hadn't seen in a few years. Nevertheless, it took a few tense days to arrange everything - flights, place to stay, arrangements for the animals.

Despite the unfortunate circumstances surrounding our visit, it was lovely
to meet his extended family and wander the streets viewing amazing architecture. 
Despite things coming down to the wire, I managed to get everything squared away relatively quickly and managed to enjoy a quick, but brisk ride on Annie before leaving Saturday morning.

Of course, when I got there, Annie was sweating pretty good in her blanket. Immediately, I thought the worst and figured she was colicking, so I ripped the blanket off and threw a cooler on. She was sweating along her chest, had no temperature, was bright/ alert, and was happy to eat treats from my hand. Her gut sounded normal and after taking her for a little walk up and down the driveway, I started to piece the puzzle together.

Had a taken a mental second and wandered into the paddock to check Spud, I would have noted he too was sweaty.

Mostly photos of our trip to Quebec.
This was a beautiful church.
And the paddock featured many skid marks and dug up grass/mud from what could only be thundering hooves.

The temporary termination of rain and inclusion of warm temps had both horses feeling pretty damn spry, and the leftover hoofprints made me believe they were playing a pretty good game of tag...

With that sorted out, I felt much more comfortable to ride. Especially considering Annie was bone-dry by the time I was finished fretting.

We mostly kept at the walk - letting her stretch into the buckle before picking her back up again. She has understood the concept of stretching down into the reins, but as Anthony pointed out in one of our clinic rides, she needs to get more acquainted with the idea of stretching into my hand. I alternate between stretching on a free rein and gradually taking up a feel on her mouth. The idea is to get her even on both reins (the Anthony-ism of "fear which rein you cannot feel!" ran through my head) and to have her realize weight in my hands isn't a bad thing.

This house was super cool - and for sale!
Of course, it's taken some practice, simply because my t-rex arms don't give to her in the same way a longer armed rider would. The idea of "rowing a boat" has helped to move my upper arms with her.

Mostly though, we walked. 

There was a short stint we did some trot sets, as well as a few canter loops on the dirt road. She had picked up the opposite lead of what I was asking, so we turned back up the road to re-affirm what I had wanted.

Towards the end of the summer we were working on simple changes on diagonals and straight-aways and had a lot of good success, but every now and then she'd get confused. I'm sure my lack of fitness has something to do with it as well, so I made a mental note to be more aware of my seat pressure and body positioning when asking.

The old signs are so cool too.
Like the rides previous, Annie came to a tentative walk as we rounded the corner where the new playground is. This time there were no kids, so I thought "hey, what a good time to desensitize my mare." 

We got closer and I noted the playground's footing seemed to be some kind of rubber compound. The "fall friendly" kind of stuff. I didn't want to ride around the play-structures just in case Annie decided to spook or something, so got her close enough (which took some cajoling because DEATH IS IMMINENT) and let her relax a moment before dismounting and decided I'd hand-walk her through the structures. 

It went pretty well, as the only issue seemed to be the playground footing. It weirded Annie out a bit, as it gave considerably under her weight. Truth be told, I had heart palpitations when I saw just how much the ground gave under Annie and thought I had ruined the footing. We had initially eased our way onto it, because I knew the footing was rubberized and when her hoof first sunk down I immediately backed her off of it. My mind raced with, "I wonder how I'm going to explain that I was just desensitizing my horse?" and "Shit, this is gonna cost a pretty penny."

I had to set her down in the ditch to remount.
She was skeptical of the playground still.
"I got my eye on you" - Annie
And even as those thoughts raced through, the footing just sprang back into place. I guess it's just really spongy?

Needless to say, I won't be hand-walking much around the park for fear of ruining the footing somehow, but it was still a good experience for Annie and I. When the grass grows around the park, I do intend to hack her around it a few times for desensitization's sake. 

What can I say, I put my horses in weird situations. 


  1. Hahahaha. If I lived somewhere with a playground I'd have done the SAME thing. This is great. Crazy about the footing though - and I'm glad it seems normal (?) for that kinda thing so no damage done.

  2. I love that no one cares! Around here someone would be calling the

  3. I don't think a horse could ruin a playground, kids do enough damage lol

  4. I'm glad I'm not the only one who does things like ride through playgrounds to desensitize horses. Haha. Nothing scarier than swings blowing in the wind!! And I'm glad the sweat ended up being from them running around, not a colic!

  5. I can just imagine the commotion a horse on the playground would cause my neighbours are mostly very elderly and SO nosy!

  6. The idea is that is a child falls they are completely cushioned so there’s are no concussions or broken bones. I doubt you could ruin it