Thursday, November 11, 2010

Better Day

Today was another beautiful day for riding.  Pie and I had a much better ride today, thanks to Jill (of Buckskin and Bay) and Scout.  We did two nice loops away from and then back to the barn.  We mostly walked, although Pie had to trot quite often to keep up with Scout's big walk.  Pie mostly wanted to fall in behind Scout, and that was fine by me today - I just wanted him to have a nice, calm, enjoyable ride. On the first loop, we were passing through one of the few wooded areas on our trails - most are pretty open - when there was a crashing in the woods to one side.  Both horses were alarmed - it was some boys off from school playing in the woods.  We called to them to come out on the path, and the horses were much happier. Pie gave one head shake as we turned back towards home, but I told him to stop and that was the end of any barn-bound behavior.

As we were on the trail heading back to the barn, there was a piece of children's clothing lying in the trail.  Scout was a bit perturbed, but Pie was happy to walk right up and sniff it.  On the second loop, there were some small boys riding bikes fast down a hill towards us, accompanied by their mother and a leashed dog.  When we called out to them, they stopped and pulled their bikes to the side - very polite.  Both Scout and Pie walked up to sniff the bike of one boy - he was giggling with delight.  I think this may go a long ways to making Pie more comfortable with bikes and small children.  On the way back home, there was a small child riding down the street on an extremely noisy small bike - both horses stared but were OK.  When we got back to the barn, Jill took Scout inside to untack and, although he didn't really want to leave Scout, he trotted and then loped up the grassy slope behind the barn when I asked - good boy!

The ride was delightful and very comforting to Pie and me.  Although I feel like it's an imposition, Jill has said that she'll ride with me from time to time so Pie can be more comfortable.  I really appreciate it and told her so.  I don't care that we didn't directly work on his buddy-bound issue - I just wanted him to have a good time today.

This afternoon I rode Dawn briefly.  Before we rode, I fed her an apple, and then she had to spend several minutes licking my coat - she always does this after eating a treat.  She was what my younger daughter and I call a "feist mare" - revved up and raring to go.  But she did well, listening to me and actually getting a bit calmer as we rode.  At the end of the ride, we stood on a loose rein for her to survey her domain and watch the horses being led into the barn - she didn't move a muscle and seemed to enjoy herself.

Pie was the last horse out, still eating from the round bale, and it was starting to spit rain.  I went into the pasture to get him with his halter and called to him.  He came trotting towards me . . . and then trotted right around me to the gate!  It's pretty clear what his priorities are!  I fed him an apple anyway since he's a good boy.

Pie's going to get two days off (or more if the weather requires).  He deserves a break.  We'll pick up our work again after that.  I got a phone call from Pie's old owner, who was checking to see how we were doing together.  I told him that Pie was a great horse, although of course at his age there were still some things to work on, and that he was a little barn-bound but that wasn't surprising.  I think the old man was pleased to hear that I was happy with him and enjoying riding him - he was surprised by how much I'd been riding - his comment was "you must like him if you're riding him that much".  He's right about that!


  1. I'm glad you and Pie had a better day today. I really think you don't need to dwell too much on the one ride. He's young, in a new place and overall I think he's done exceptionally well. It is almost like he set the bar too high to maintain right off the bat. No horse can be that perfect all the time.

    I envy how you have such wonderful access to trails!

  2. I'm sorry I missed commenting during that tough ride you had because I've had those days with Smokey.

    We are taking our time dealing with going out alone, I only feel that since the trip we took Smokey finally feels like we're together. And this is after a considerable amount of time doing other things.

    This is the one thing I notice with young horses - or at least what I generally hear. With an older horse you get more consistent behavior. With a young horse it's almost like they go through a bit of a mood swing. Not a mare thing, more of that pre-teen helpful one day, put upon the next.

    I did the same thing with Smokey, in a way. I didn't ride the horse I had one day and I extrapolated a good deal - which wasn't fair to him.

    Time builds trust. In both directions. I'm really glad you and Pie had a better day and took it easier. I know you'll continue to build his confidence.

  3. Sounds like that ride was just what you both needed, and Pie earned his few days off. It's possible that he's not used to being ridden this much given his prior owner's comment (though I'm just guessing). Overall Pie is showing some really, really good signs about the kind of guy he'll be once he's fully settled in, gets comfortable with you, and as he continues to grow up. Despite the tough rides you had this week, he's still a fabulous horse in my book.

  4. Isn't Jill your friend?

    Remember that friendship is all about reciprocal imposition. You do a little something out of your way to help her, she returns the favor later. It sucks to be the one with the horse that needs "help," but that's constantly changing. :)

  5. Hooray for you good ride. I love the image of Pie and Scout sniffing that boy on the bike and he, giggling with delight! And, the thought of Dawn standing silently with you on her, surveying her kingdom. Wonderful!
    I am glad you are letting Pie rest and regroup. You could still graze and groom during his off from riding days. That way he learns that there are times in the pasture with his buddies, times on the trail and in the ring, and times that he grazes while his person massages him with the brushes. Brushing a horse while they graze in a fresh, new grass patch goes a long way toward bonding I think.

  6. What a great previous owner to call and check =)

    Bring Pie down here and I'll walk ride with you every day. I don't like, nor do I think it's a safe thing to do much beyond that. I trot a bit in open flats beyond that it's a marching walk on loose rein.

  7. I bet he WAS surprised about how much you're riding Pie! Like Marissa, I think that's an indicator that Pie wasn't being rode that often before--which explains a lot of his souring behavior as the rides progressed.

    I agree with the other commentors about riding with friends--I ride with different kinds of horses all the time and never consider it an imposition. I enjoy watching the process between new horses and riders--and sometimes the shoe is on the other foot and it's my horse that's causing the delay. She sounds like a great riding buddy for you.

    Enjoy your time off! I love those days when instead of going out and getting him for a ride, I surprise him with a treat and some back scratches--really throws him off! ha ha.

  8. Hello kate,
    catching up...I will go back too, and read.
    Sounds very familar to me...a good ride and a not so good ride.
    My sis always says, after the bad ride, "The next will be better". Hopefully because of how you worked through some of the bad, on the bad ride...they digest it all overnight and into the next day!

    I am happy to hear that Pie settled and nicely surprised you, by concuring obstacles out and about!

    HAHA! I loved how the previous owner much you liked him =to ride that often!
    Well yea!
    Give that beautiful Pie face a rub for me, will you...he is such a good boy, he'll enjoy the time off with only ground atention...mine sure does!

  9. I am so glad you had a better ride. Pie sounds like such a nice boy. I certainly wouldn't mind having him :-) I think sometimes just riding with a buddy helps just that little extra in the confidence part. As he gets used to the places you ride and you go out a little more -- going by himself should be easier.

  10. Hi Kate - Just catching up on how you and Pie are doing. I think you're right on target about what's bothering him and how to help him become more comfortable. He needs to get to the point where he enjoys being with you as much or more than he enjoys his herd buddies. It will come in time. Silk didn't really trust me until we'd been together about 5 years. In the beginning, I was too needy, wanting her to care about me as much as I cared about her. When I let go of that expectation and just learned to be okay with whatever she was feeling when we were together, we both relaxed and the trust grew. That's why I love sitting in the pasture, reading a book with Silk and Siete just grazing next to me. They seem to accept everything else we do together more happily just because i have spent the time being with them doing nothing. It makes all of us feel like we belong together. You've got a wonderful horse, and he's learning to feel safe enough with you to be able to express what he feels. He's very lucky that you "get it" and are patient and kind and want to help him be secure in his new world.


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