Sunday, March 1, 2015

Hola- Hitting the Trail! (15-18

Last week, a day after our scary ride in the field I got on Hola in the arena. I was really nervous to see how she would feel. I was SO happy when I got on her and she felt absolutely solid. She guided nicely and most importantly she felt happy and relaxed. I was so relieved! I actually got a little video of our loop that day (and of me playing with her ears because they are so dang cute!)

The next day I got on Hola again in the paddock towards the end of the day. I wasn't going to because the wind was blowing really hard and she was fresh. And then I reminded myself that excuses such as those are for pussy-footing-ninny muggins which I am certainly not (*whispers conspiratorially* I  total am a pussy-footed-ninny-muggin!) So I got on and sure enough she was a little jacked. Now the real question is, was she jacked because of the wind/time of day or was she jacked because I thought she was going to be jacked? *raises one eyebrow* She didn't do anything really wrong, she was just back talkin' a little. Ha! A back talking mare, never known one of those before.

On Saturday I tacked Hola with the plan to walk her in hand down the trail near the farm with Laurie riding Ella. I thought I would take my helmet out to the edge of the field so that when we got back to the barn I could just hop on for a short ride while she was good and tired. I wasn't going to tie my helmet to the saddle as to not be tempted to get on her while on the trail because I just didn't think we were ready for that. Remember, I've already admitted to the ninny thing... Well, by the time we headed out for the trail I had decided I would take my helmet and just play it by ear.  We had been walking for a about twenty minutes when Laurie stopped and asked, "Well? You getting on." I thought for a moment and said "No. I am not ready. I think I just want to ride that last stretch from the garbage can to the hill before home." Laurie agreed with the plan and we happily continued on. Half an hour later I noticed we were nearing the garbage can that marks the final stretch for home. I stopped Hola and adjusted my girth and put my helmet on. And then I continued walking for a few minutes while trying to really key in to how Hola was feeling. What I got was that she was a little bit tired, a little bit keen to get home, and very relaxed. When we got just past the garbage can I stopped Hola and mounted. She stood quietly. I asked Laurie to stay behind me as I did not want Hola blindly following Ella. I asked Hola to walk on and she did. For the next ten minutes she walked down the trail like a broke old ranch horse. She didn't balk, spook or get tight backed even once. She whoaed when I asked. I pat on her. I got off. And then I shed a little tear. I had just rode down the trail on my sweet little Hola- a dream come true. The feeling of her striding out down the trail, solid and confident is one I will never forget. I am so grateful for this filly. For the opportunity I have been given. I am so blessed. I know it comes with risk. But I know that, even if the worst should happen, I am living the life I dreamed.

This afternoon I rode Hola down the trail again. Same trip. But she was much more fresh this evening. It was actually really nice to feel her look around a bit more. At one point she hesitated to walk past a tree stump but she never actually stopped and didn't try to bolt by or rush off once past. Riding her when she is buzzy with energy really helps boost my confidence. I want to train through how she reacts when stressed rather than avoid any stressors. Or least I want a happy medium between the two. The challenge of the day was to ride her up the hill at the end of the trail. This hill slopes off sharply on both sides and is steep enough to be blind at the top. She gave both sides a hard look and was pretty bug eyed coming over the crest but we made it and she stood for me to dismount. It was far from the quiet walk through the park that we had on Saturday but a reason to give thanks nonetheless.


  1. Okay, I love this post. You and are a lot alike, LOL! I was a bit further along with Luna than this before I sold her, but same deal. I was being a bit of a ninny. But Luna is BIG (15.1 and 1100 lbs.) When she jumps 3 ft. sideways from a walk or even a trot like she did last week in the arena (at NOTHING that my trainer or I could see) it is a stick-the-saddle-disengage-the-hind-end and hope for the best- all in a split second. Once you get her past that blip she is fine, it doesn't set her off into a spunky or a jiggy frame of mind, she would go nicely down the trail until the next scary thing. That I loved about her. But, dealing with those spooks was foreign territory to me because My Boy just doesn't do that. There was always the "what if"- the spook became a bolt, and I couldn't get her stopped? Or a buck? I mean, that could potentially be the case with ANY horse. But more so with a green one that you have limited saddle time on. And while the foundation was there from training (one-rein) it still might not work if I couldn't deliver the E-brake efficiently! ;-) I really like that you are hand-walking. I did hardly any hand walking or ponying of Luna when she was younger- I should have been doing that all along (until I got pregnant and didn't ride for a year.) My next colt will have a much different approach to ground work. I have learned a lot working with My Boy. I will no longer "lounge" him to tire him out (all that does is raise the endorphins any way!) Instead, calm in-hand work until I sense that he has relaxed and is ready to focus with me on his back. Excited to follow your progress with Hola!

  2. Sounds like you are both doing great. At least she doesn't bolt when spooked. That is a very good sign. When I first got my Divna she was 4 years old. She spooked at EVERYTHING. But she never bolted, she would do a sideways jump and sometimes would stand frozen and unmoveable. But after desensitizing by riding in lots of unfamiar territory and using tricks like plastic bags attached to the end of sticks, etc., she calmed down. She is now 18 and has been the best trail horse ever.