Thursday, July 18, 2013

The perfect training scenario

After my horrid experience with my would-be friends a few weeks ago, I've been ultra cautious, even avoiding riding out with others. My Appy friend C cancelled on my last week and I was relieved - it was way too hot out for me - like, 80+.

I've been enjoying taking Mara out alone and hiking with her, and then riding where I feel safe.

Saturday I didn't have much time but I was letting her graze by the scary chicken/curtains-on-bushes house, and the neighbor Stefan was drilling/sawing something loudly as I walked her by. Suddenly she stopped and froze and Stefan stopped his motor. He said, "Am I too loud for the horse?" (so nice!) and I said, "No ---she sees other horses!" and behind us were the two ladies who did their first endurance ride last weekend. I had been thinking about them and was curious how it went.

But I didn't want to disturb their outing; I didn't feel comfortable just approaching and saying, "Let's ride together" so I took Mara down the hill to the woods the opposite way. I thought we might hook up at the big intersection.

I was right. As soon as I turned back up the hill, after getting on Mara and letting her trot a bit, we saw them again. I was actually ahead of them and continued on a ways as Mara kept glancing back, "My friends!"

Finally I stopped her and they smiled at me. I said, "Do you mind if I ride along with you just a little ways, just down the hill to the watershed - I don't have much time but I'd appreciate it."

They welcomed me to join them. Then I asked them all about their first endurance ride. They said they got 10th and 11th place out of 30 riders. I said, "11th! OH NO! I hate 11th!" and had to explain to them why - I don't think they have top-10 awards here.

We chatted a bit more and I paid close attention to what Mara was doing. She wasn't doing anything. She just walked along behind or beside one of them, not worried, not stressed, and no head tossing.

This is her home area and apparently it helps to be here when going out with two others.

Once we reached the bottom of the switchback trail, I said I had to go back. They were surprised but it was really all I wanted, a chance to see how Mara handles being in a group again, for a short while, and then how she handles leaving the group.

I thanked them and turned her around, back up the hill. She hesitated one moment and then obliged. We trotted fast up that hill and I was laughing at her enthusiasm.

Perfect! Riding out with others, leaving them, never getting into a situation that stressed the horse, it was exactly as if I'd planned it.

The next day I ran into another lady from Herr S's place, on her Icelandic horse. She does not want to ride with me and when we met up, she asked me which way I was going so she could go another way. I have no problem with that - she told me her horse is quite forward and others have to trot to keep up with his walk. I don't want that right now, so I was glad to go my own way.

We met up again later and passed each other, with no incident.

I rode down to the water itself, the "BIG WATER" as I kept telling Mara. She was pretty surprised by all that water. Maybe she's never seen a large artificial lake with dams, one of which we walked across. I was leading her at that point, of course. But after spending some time down there I got back on her and we trotted up the big hill toward home.

But not before that crazy guy  came out to talk to us - the one who rides full blast in traffic with his Standardbred. This time he was barefoot, walking around like it didn't hurt, with black dirt stains running down his arms, filthy hands, missing teeth, clothing so dirty he looked like he came out of a film, but he's friendly and I took the time to listen to him talk for about 20 minutes as an excuse to help Mara learn patience.

He speaks such slang I don't get half of what he says. He's apparently been making his 2nd cutting of hay and had a lot to say about the competition - who I buy hay from. Lots of gossip there. Which I don't care about. Oh wait, yes I do.

Mara seems to be OK with the calves now, but as we visited them again, some neighbors came out and said, "Is that poop all over the street from you?" and I said, "Yes, and for a small fee, I'll leave it there and you can fertilize something with it." They laughed and said they were teasing: ) Of course. This is Germany - horse poop on the street is completely normal.


Judi said...

Things are just falling in place. I have seen this happen before--as long as the riders persist, the horse hits a turning point and there is more good happening than bad.

My prediction--the good will keep accelerating, and the little difficulties you had in the beginning will be a faint memory.

Bakersfield Dressage said...

It sounds as though you are making excellent progress, Lytha! Good for you and the mare. :0)

Tara said...

I am glad you had such wonderful times!

kbryan said...

It is good to read about your positive outing with her. Hopefully, she'll continue to settle down. Will you post some more photos of her and Bellis when you have time? Never get enough of those. You have a happy weekend!

Anonymous said...

Very nice that she can join other horses and then leave them - that's very good progress and many horses aren't able to do that easily.

Oak Creek Ranch said...

She's doing great!

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Just curious... when you talk with your neighbors, other riders and people about town, is everyone speaking English or German? I know you've mentioned struggling with your German. I imagine you are more fluent now? What language does Mara speak?

lytha said...

judi, that's so nice of you: )

kay, pictures, i need pics, i know. i take them but i don't post them cuz it's such a pain to upload them now.

kate, my plan is to try to do this as often as possible with other riders. (splitting up) if it's all she ever knows....

nm, we speak german. funnily when i tell my husband about a conversation i had, i'm speaking english, and i tell both sides in english, "he said...and then i said..." and my husband will ask, "so he was speakign in english?!" i just am lazy and speak to my man in english! with animals i only speak english. it would be weird to do otherwise. i'm much more fluent, but horse-terminology is beyond me. like, the names for the pieces of tack. that's gonna take a while. and the parts of the horse. when i ask "what is rump?" or something, i get looks like "geez, what an idiot! - she owns a horse and doesn't know the parts!" or maybe i'm just projecting.

lytha said...

(oh, obviously i don't say "what is rump" cuz the germans have no idea what the english word is for that! i have to point to the body part.)

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

I like how his ride went. Sounds like you were relaxed and your riding friends were relaxed, too. It makes all the difference.

Even my Apache who is as calm as they come, and that people with green horses, ask if they can ride with us, so their horse has a calm, experienced buddy, even she can get worked up if the energy of the other horses, riders or myself are high.
It would be a good thing for you and Mara to hook up with the riders and join them occasionally, don't you think?

I'm glad things went well for this ride, and I hope they continue.

Oh, and yes, hay gossip and news is important stuff for all of us with equines. lol!


Achieve1dream said...

ROFLOL!!!! I loved reading the comments about speaking in German. I don't think I could do it. I've tried learning new languages and I suck at it hehe.

I'm so happy Mara is improving! I knew she would. It just takes time. :D Keep up the great work!

Achieve1dream said...

Eryn if you're reading this could I join your blog? Pretty please!

allhorsestuff said...

Hahaha!! Perfect Retort! "For A Small Fee"!
That Was Delightful!
She's Changed Much..And You're Confidence Is Great, Also Your Diligence In Choosing!

Loved It!