Saturday, February 7, 2009

Riding Alone

I may come as a shock to most of my readers, but I almost never ride alone. In fact, I can count the number of times I have ridden out alone with Brego on one hand. Although I am not the bravest person on earth, when it comes to the Brego human projectile probabilities, the reason is not one of safety. It's because my SO rides, same sport even, so I always have a fun, competitive, wonderful riding partner.

I've been feeling a bit like it's a hole in our training, the riding alone. On cross country day, Brego always does well once we hit the course and he is focused. And the one recognized overnight event we went to, Brego went without the old mare, and again he did fine. But still, the long solo rides, where you rely only on each other, are important. So I have tried to formulate how to diplomatically say, "Honey, I am going to go out on a fun ride and I think you should stay home and comfort your hysterical, herd-bound mare."

Turns out, I need not worry. Riding alone is an undeniably good skill, so it took little convincing. Brego and I would set out alone.

I could tell the heat of the day (38 F, 3.3 C) was affecting the big boy, he was unusually agreeable as I tacked him up and left the property, the old mare screaming for him in the background. We went out into the woods and the deep snow was definitely an asset. No matter what Brego wanted to do, he was obligated to work hard walking forward. I even rode him in the loose ring snaffle, preferring if he got naughty, that he pulled instead of reared. We had a great ride, tough going, but magnificently beautiful. He was great, never offering to misbehave.

When we finally turned for home, Brego tried to run back. Every time he got quick, I would turn him around and make him trudge through deep snow AWAY from home. He's a smart boy and quickly learned the fastest way home was to go slow. Even when we got within ear shot of home and the old mare was calling to him, Brego kept his cool and delivered me safe and victorious after our solo venture. One of many to follow.

Wanting to capitalize on this glorious day and the equally good mood of my horse, we tried some skijoring. Brego barely glanced at the skiis as the SO took a few passes by while we watched. Finally, I attached the tow rope and tossed it over. I urged Brego into a walk and he pulled the skier, noisy skis and all, over the pasture (the only place around with moderately packed snow). He was completely nonplussed, never thought about it, maybe a bit amused at the clumsy, flat boards tripping up the human. Complete fun.

A terrible picture, but proof nonetheless...

A week's worth of riding, and two goals accomplished, in a single day. Nice.


sidetracked said...

Thats cool that you ventured out alone. I happen to board at a large barn and usually there is no shortage of people to ride with. But sometimes I love to just go out with Possum and have a relaxing ride or go exploring. Possum is wonderful to take out alone and we use that time to chill out with one another.

EvenSong said...

I love the pic of skijoring--but I have one question: what kind of wax do you use one skis for poopy snow?

Good job on the ride out alone. My experience of these kinds of rides, especially in the winter woods, is of the complete PEACE of the environment.

Andrea said...

Oh no! Skiing in JEANS! Faux pas! *Runs up with snowpants*

I miss having my own SO around to ride with. That being said, it's definitely BETTER when Polly's not around because Gogo can actually concentrate. In fact, sad to say I've eliminated Gogo's friends from her life... she just has good ol' me. This way, 1) she's totally chill whenever we hack out alone, which we do ALL the time and 2) she doesn't send any horse to the vet clinic for emergency head reattachment surgery.

dp said...

Of course I always ride alone, having a non-riding partner and no friends who ride. Raven is fine going out by herself and Tonka is fine if not thrilled about being left home alone. Tonka is also fine about going out by himself, but I have never left Raven alone because I am afraid that she will seriously injure herself.

How bad is Hobby when you leave her behind? I am wondering if I am being too soft-hearted with Raven.

Anonymous said...

Teehee! <3

I agree with Andrea--JEANS?!

You people are crazy. :P

Daun said...

You guys are rough. Here we have Brego, for the first time in his life, pulling a crazy skiier in jeans across rough poopy pasture, overcoming his terrible fear of things making noise behind him, and you can only comment on the jeans?? ;)

Ha! I um, coerced the SO to put skis on so it was kind of an unplanned thing. You should see the usual skiing outfit, very prosh, and not denim-based.

Hobby calls and runs around and I do worry about her straining something, but she needs to learn. The worst episodes I have ever had with Brego at shows are when Hobby is tied to a trailer and screams out about a cougar or something attacking her and Brego, from a quarter mile away, decides he needs to go save her NOW. He bucks and rears and carries on, completely distracted from, I don't know, showing!!

But leave Hobby at home, and Brego is all business at shows. So I know it's not his own insecurity of being alone, it's his response to the obviously dying mare that makes it hard on me.

So if the mare would stop pretending that she's being ripped limb from limb by a tiger whenever Brego gets out of sight, my life is much easier. Plus, if we can establish this at home, where she is arguably more secure, then I can ride out and get my work done and she can enjoy some quiet time.

As it was, I rode for about an hour and the SO had to stand in the pasture and monitor the mare to keep her from falling in the water trough or otherwise breaking a leg. Fairly unfun.

EvenSong said...

I don't know, Daun, but back when I skied ( a long log time ago, in a universe far away), and my brother was a professional ski bum, all the hard core, really good, super cool guys wore jeans--just showed they didn't have to worry about falling down and getting snow-covered/wet.

serensk said...

(Hi, I found this blog by the oddest road, but I love it, so here I am!)

Like you, I hadn't tried riding alone because the SO always came with me. Not only does he ride, but his horse is my mare's big brother. We bought the horses together, and big bro was definitely the brave and experienced trail masher, and there is a definite comfort level between them.

The first time we ventured out... far... alone was when we had planned to hack over to our first ever horse show, just for a few baby classes, just to say we did. But the big brother gelding was sore on his feet, and what did I do? Cancel? No. I went alone.

I am pleased to report that we survived, despite some interesting moments. The big bro continued to be on and off lame for a few months which gave me more time to wander around the large property on my own, pushing the boundaries of that invisible force field that seems to hold horses to the barn (but, strangely, not when they've busted out a fence and have a headstrong appaloosa to lead the way).

I don't think I'm about to add skis to the mix though.

Bev said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bev said...

Does Hobby ever go out alone? If so, is her reaction the same as when Brego leaves her behind?

Daun said...

Hobby has not been ridden out alone in a few years. She used to be boss mare and very self assured. When I showed her in college, she would ride out alone just fine.

I don't think she sees as well these days and as she ages, she definitely relies on Brego more and more. Since they've been exclusively housed together, she's become very dependent on him.

We've taken Hobby in front of the house with Brego in the pasture, so he can't see her, and he looks, but doesn't call or run around hysterical. If I had to guess, I would say you could ride Hobby out pretty successfully, but she would stress. Brego would probably be fine, definitely fine if you gave him hay or something.

When we took Brego to the overnight show last season, Hobby was in a pasture with 8 other horses, that she'd known for 5 months, so she was like, Brego who? Now that it's just the two of them, she sticks close. Even though our pasture is small, it is rare to see them apart, maybe halfway across the field, but never out of sight.

dp said...

I'm glad to hear that Raven isn't the only hyperdramatic TB mare in the world. Unfortunately I can't leave David to supervise her because he's just not that experienced yet. And I can't let him take Tonka out alone because he's just not that experienced yet. Clearly I need to make some horsey friends.

Lizz Bishop said...

Go Daun and Bregon.
Love the skijoring picture. Haha. Cheyenne would kill me if I ever did that to her.