Friday, October 29, 2021

Caught in the Act

There have been a few instances of late of the horses getting out of the pasture. It has always included Eeyore but since he has been with me more 3 years with no prior offenses I stuck up for him. I blamed Hamilton since this started after he came back from the trainer this summer. I thought maybe he was running Eeyore through the fence. 

Then Gem, Eeyore and Hamilton were found running amok last weekend at o dark thirty. The pasture gate was wide open. The last person to close it was the Hubs so I blamed him for not paying attention and leaving the gate open. 

Well….I was getting ready for work this morning and received the following text from the Hubby…

Yes, Hubs calls Hamilton Hamstring. It is better than what he calls Eeyore.

I had left the horses in the barn overnight to give them a break from the cold downpour that had started in the afternoon and was slated not to end until this afternoon. I know that stall was closed and latched.

Guess I owe both Hamilton and Hubby an apology. 

Monday, October 18, 2021

Tryon Hounds Hunter Pace


This sums up the day with Hamilton perfectly 

Sunday I hauled both chestnut boys to a gorgeous private field to enjoy the gorgeous fall weather at the hunter pace. Surprisingly C asked if she could have the ride on Eeyore again and I was happy to hand her the reins as long as she rode in his Aussie saddle which she was happy to do. It worked perfectly and Eeyore was the mostest goodest boy ever. The saddle makes all the difference. Plus some monstrous hills, but I’ll get to that. 

This view did not suck

I also took her advice and instead of trying to be the first ones on the trail we waited until midway through hoping all the fast riders were off the trail before we even started. It was a lovely plan and we ended up in a nice bubble for most of the ride. Those who did pass us or that we passed were all friendly and safe about it. A much different crowd than the speedsters at the front. 

Hamilton seemed to approve of the view as well

The trail was amazingly well marked which is saying a lot as they worked hard to get the mileage in by winding through fields and small thickets of trees. There were times where the trail headed sharply left to wind around a half mile just to end up 10’ in front of where you had turned. It would have been easy to just go straight and miss it had it not been for the massive red arrows everywhere. Big kudos to whoever had that job. 

Eeyore was a saint for the entire ride. He never put a hoof wrong.  C was thrilled with him as was I. He didn’t even seem to mind when others came up behind but again, they didn’t gallop blindly up our butts either. Honestly there were several moments where I wished I had been on my Appy instead of the rage monster I found myself on. I did feel really badly for the chubster though. We were going along nicely with a lot of trotting through fields and things were going swimmingly until after the hold.

After that we entered the GENTS trail system and let me tell you…I’ve done a lot of trail riding in my day and I don’t think I’ve ever encountered hills as steep as those. I’m talking hills the horses had to slide on their butts down. At one point we found ourselves a lovely flat trail along the riverbank. All four of us eagerly hopped into a trot then a canter to enjoy the flat, easy and cool trail. Just as we all settled in the trail turned sharply right and we found ourselves staring straight up the side of a mountain with a small pink ribbon at the top. I wish I could have been in front to see the look on Eeyore’s face. I’m sure it spoke volumes.

After that poor Eeyore was done. We still had a handful of crazy steep hills to climb before the end too. Honestly that horse gave his all and then some Sunday. I couldn’t be any more proud of him. 

Then there was my Baby Racehorse. Remember me saying how much this horse LOVES the trail? Apparently one pace was enough for him to learn the game because he came out ready to rumble. Now. The bar for “bad behavior, expressing opinions” is set pretty high since I’ve been riding Eeyore for over three years and he is the King of Expressing Opinions. I’m not sure how someone who isn’t used to Eeyore would feel about Hammy. For me, I thought he was silly. 

One of his issues is that he is starting to strongly dislike being behind Eeyore. Or at least being behind a tired, barely moving Eeyore. He was perfectly happy to follow until Eeyore started to slow down at which point Hammy thought he’d help motivate him by being very very snarky and attempting to bite his ass. He got sharply reprimanded for that maneuver.

Then he got angry with me for holding back his greatness and tried to bite my leg. He got kicked in the nose for that. He was good for awhile (good meaning his objection to not racing was expressed through grunting, sighing and the occasional moment of tucking his head to his chest and blowing out a lot) until we came to a stretch that was particularly sandy for some reason. I felt him slow, paw and then his knees began to buckle as he thought that was the perfect time for a good roll. A sharp heel to the ribs got him moving before I became a sand coated pancake. He was in rare form indeed. here is where I become a Hamilton Apologist, but I have a point so hang with me. Hamilton has very long legs. He is also born to move out. While Eeyore thinks he is moving out he generally tops out around 7-8 mph at the trot and then has to canter. He cruises best around 5-6 mph. At one point I let Hamilton lead for a nice trot stretch and before I knew it we were cruising at a glorious 9.2 mph with happy ears. Poor Eeyore was cantering and still getting left behind. I’m sure Hamilton enjoyed finally getting to stretch out those long legs of his to move freely at his own pace down the trail. I sorta felt bad putting him back behind Eeyore after that as I could tell he was pissy about it. You can’t go leaving your chubby partner behind though. 

The finish was at the top of this field in the gap between trees. You can see the arrow pointing us left to hug the tree line and wrap around. 

Beyond his obvious displeasure at moving slower than he liked, Hamilton was such a good good boy. He tackled his first set of creepy, rickety bridges. He navigated knee deep mud. He scooted down hills on his rear. He galloped up hills so steep I grabbed mane so I wouldn’t slide off the back of him. He did it all without blinking an eye or once saying no to anything. He even lead a great deal at the walk and a small portion at the trot. For his second pace it was a lot to throw at him. I think now the only thing he hasn’t encountered is a water crossing.

So…yeah his behavior wasn’t the best. He was pissed we weren’t flying through it all and he was showing it in some pretty naughty ways but as always he stayed safe, listening and easy to handle, if annoying. No bolting, bucking, rearing. Just a baby horse throwing some epic temper tantrums when he didn’t get his way. 

I managed to snap the most unflattering picture of both my boys post ride. Eeyore looks like a mule here  (no offense to mules LOL) and I swear he isn't this bad looking in real life.

All in all it was one of the best rides I’ve ever had. It easily ranks in the top 10. Both horses were happy, easy going (in the ways that matter) and safe. Both us riders grinned and laughed through it all. I couldn’t have asked for better. We ended at just over 7 miles and just shy of 1200 feet of elevation gain. Poor Eeyore dug into his hay bag while we wandered over to the food truck to grab lunch. Both boys then fell asleep while we ate. Not too shabby of a Sunday afternoon. 

Monday, October 11, 2021

Why This Works

 Had someone asked me a year ago if I thought I'd ever not only own, but actually ride, two riding horses at the same time, I'd have laughed and said it wasn't possible. I mean, I barely ride one horse enough to keep him sane and in a shape other than morbidly obese. How could I ever think I'd be able to find the time to ride two horses?

I would have been wrong, but only because I ended up with the World's Best Baby Racehorse as the second horse. Honestly, I'm not sure I could/would make it work with any other combination of horses. These two work perfectly because they are polar opposites of each other. Two Eeyores or even two Hamiltons wouldn't work out for me. Well, two Eeyores in the same place would probably make the Universe implode so we won't even think about that. 

How we found out the solar charger on the fence crapped out. 

Last night I hopped on Hamilton first to try out a new to us saddle. Someday I'll have all four saddles situated perfectly, but for now at least I have half the equation sorted. I think. Maybe. We will see. Hamilton HATES the arena. He sees no point whatsoever in going around the same area multiple times. He does not enjoy working on figures or figuring out puzzles. He abhors ground poles and don't even think about an actual jump. He will do it and he does it as beautifully as he does everything. But it is very, very obvious he does not enjoy the work. I probably need both a crop and spurs to ride him effectively in the arena. He tends to go around nicely in whatever gait I've coerced out of him (holy crap though I could canter him all day long it is so so so wonderful) and then stop politely while grunting about how hard the last 2 minutes of his life were. 

I've been searching high a low for this particular saddle and even ordered a new one only to be told it was back ordered until at least December. I finally snagged one on an endurance page. It fits him very well. 

I ride him with a LOT of leg, clucking, laughter and giggles. He makes my heart soar even when arguing that he will not die of exhaustion after a single trot lap of the arena. 

Get him out of the arena though and that horse will go for days. He loves to explore, he loves to look at new things. His stride is forward, his ears up and he never tires. There is a difference in just riding in the pasture versus the arena. A completely different horse. 

He looks really good in a dressage style saddle. Now for me to figure out how on earth to ride in it. I've ridden in western, Australian, endurance and jump saddles but not a true dressage saddle. I needed to let me stirrups out a lot. 

Then there is Eeyore. After I was done laughing my way through 20 minutes of w/t/c with Hamilton, I set up a single jump and hopped on my Pocket Rocket. Where I have to constantly urge Hamilton to move at all, I'm fighting Eeyore to slow down - where's the fire? Eeyore ADORES jumping. I haven't jumped him over anything since May and he tackled that jump like he hasn't missed a beat. The best part of jumping Eeyore is that he loves it so much he doesn't care how badly I ride him to or away from it. Long spot? Fine. Stuff him the next time? Ok. He will always say yes with happy ears. 

During one of Hamilton's "breaks" when he stopped moving, sighed and then grunted like "wasn't that enough boring arena work yet?"

I spent 20 minutes having the time of my life doing a figure 8 over my single vertical. 

And that folks is how having two riding horses works in my life. I can meander along with Hamilton enjoying the freedom of the trail and pasture or a floating ride in the arena feeling safe and like I'm not working at all and then hop on Eeyore and blast around and over jumps. My plan is to focus on jumping with Eeyore with maybe a return to lessons and hitting some local schooling shows. Then I will focus on endurance with Hamilton with a hope to hit our first LD in the spring and maybe, just maybe if the stars align make it to Decade Team with him in 2032.

Purchased this photo from the Scotsgrove Hunter Pace

With two horses having polar opposite riding styles, preferences and interests I can ride one and then the other without having to try to do the exact same things with both. I can ride Eeyore first and spend the time working on bend, relaxation, slowing the poop down, and jumping. Then I can tack up Hamilton and work on adding energy and steering or decide screw the arena and hit the pasture or trailer out. Knowing myself I don't think I could handle having two jumping horses or two trail horses. I don't have the time, energy or motivation to work them both the same way or deal with the same issues.

I never thought this would work out but it is and I am loving it.