Saturday, November 15, 2008

Greenland Trail Riding AKA Biting off more than I can chew...

So, I'm battling this stupid sprained/fractured ankle. I'm laying in bed A LOT, and my husband has taken my son to Seattle for the weekend. My oldest son is driving and has plans of his own, so really I've got Kendall to myself all weekend. Kendall and I together with no boys means horse Time! I wanted to trailer out somewhere and have a great adventure with her.

We picked Greenland. Tons of trail mileage, plenty of parking, not too far to drive, a good deal. My neighbor and good friend, Marcy, came with us. About 3 miles from the trailhead, we got a flat. Doh! The adventure begins.

I'd worn my air cast all morning while I got the trailer ready and horses loaded, thinking I'd keep my ankle happy as possible before riding. I was feeling good and ambitious (the best and the worst thing about me) and decided to bring Gemini and pony him off of Z. Kendall would ride Rain.

We decided to fix the tire after the ride. A good move - let's get the party started already. As soon as I get on, my ankle starts cussing. Then, I grab Gemini's lead and we're off. Ouch! Darn it - I'm not ready for this! So, being who I am, I forge ahead.

About 1/2 mile in, there's a huge herd of buffalo about 1/4 mile away. My trusty steed decides that's is NOT OK! They made her quite worried. For the first time I realized, I can't be the horseman she needs me to be with my ankle. Gemini was a little up and excited and Z was thinking we were facing sure death by buffalo. And my ankle was cussing. I'd officially bitten off more than I could chew.

Luckily, Rain was being everything Kendall needed and Marcy was happy as a clam on her horse. Then, the trains started coming. Loud, long trains about 1/8 mile from the trail we were on. Z thought less of the buffalo because now our lives were threatened by the train. And again, I was reminded that I was vulnerable and not being everything my horses needed me to be. Finally, I asked Marcy and Kendall to let me stop and rest.

I tried to play some with Z on the ground and then I mounted and tried to get her calm. She was calming down and doing better, but my ankle was not. She was not happy about having Gemini at her side while were going down the trail, so losing him and just riding in some circles was a good thing. Being who I am, I forged ahead. Marcy passed Gemini's lead to me and we kept going.

Another mile or so, and I realized I had to admit defeat. I finally dismounted and asked them to take off without me. I wanted Kendall and Marcy to have fun. I felt bad for thinking I could do more guilty that I was already such a pain of a trail partner. Luckily, I convinced them to go. Gemini thought that was the worst idea of the day.

I was on the ground with Gemini, Z, my very sore ankle and my carrot stick. Marcy and Kendall disappeared over a hill and Gemini lost it. He reared and demanded to go with them. I tried to maintain, but he got the rope between his legs and was able to start moving forward. That was it. I had to just let go. He ran after the others and luckily they hadn't gotten far yet. Marcy grabbed him and I hobbled my way up to take him and try again. Ugh... I was in a bad place.

Z had gotten a little upset when he broke away, but luckily she settled fairly quickly. I took Gemini back and he tried to reenact the previous episode. This time I was ready. He soon realized he was stuck with me and I worked on giving him a reason to think that didn't suck so bad. I had Z, so it was tough to really do any serious ground work with Gemini.

Luckily, he began to settle and resorted to simply calling in his high-pitched winnie directly into my ear. I can handle a whinny. I was worried that he might rear and get me in the head with a hoof, so I kept him positioned so that I could be ready. As we walked, he got more and more settled. We came up to a bench and I had him do some things with it. That seemed to really settle him some more. He wasn't really calling anymore.

After about another 1/2 mile to mile, he was calm enough and I had walked far enough that I decided to mount back up and pony him home. I still had a tire to change and my trailer was a little dot in the distance. I felt a moment of hopelessness, but fought it and moved on. We had an uneventful ride to the trailer from that point.

We got back, I started to get the tire changed and after a bit longer, Marcy and Kendall were back. They had a great time and I was so pleased. I learned a ton about feeling like you've got more horse than you can handle, about how seriously scared Gemini gets when the herd is split, how Z doesn't trust a herd of buffalo or trains and about being sure I'm fully capable before I venture out with a pony horse. I can't be at all vulnerable and try to manage scared horses. I've got to be 100%.

Gemini demonstrated that he will eat grass very dominantly when he's nervous. He has a ton of brace that I need to correct, he has confidence issues that need to be handled, he has a lot of dominance that will really get out of hand when he's afraid. I look forward to getting him through L3 eventually. I know I'll look back on this someday, this day when he told me he didn't think staying with me was the right idea, and I'll think about how much he's changed and how I don't think he'd act that way again. We have some serious time to put in before that.

A last note, Rain is in heat. Could it be that he was especially upset with Rain leaving with another gelding? Could it also be that it was a bigger deal to him because she's in heat?

I'd like to take Z back there again... alone. We have some things to work through as well.

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