To ride dressage is to dance with your horse, equal partners in the delicate and sometimes difficult work of creating harmony and beauty.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Real trail practice

We had a great weekend horse-camping trip last weekend! Three families from our Christian trail-riding club stayed at Santiam Horse Camp outside of Gates, OR, enjoying its great trails and top-notch facilities (I call this "Cadillac camping").

Lance took to horse-camping like an old pro. When we got there Friday evening, a couple people were preparing to go on a ride, so as soon as we set up camp, I tacked up Lance and off we went with them. Lance was interested and willing, even leading our small group of three fearlessly much of the way, careful with his feet and not once calling for his buddies from home.

The next day five of us went for a ride together, including my son and husband on Lance's pasture buddies from home. Again Lance was stellar no matter where in the line-up he was; but with the longest legs in the group he worked best as leader. He did stop and stare at the first bridge he'd ever seen (the one the dogs are crossing, above), and although I think he would have crossed it on his own eventually, I let Brian lead on his been-there, done-that pony so we didn't hold everyone else up. (On our last ride Sunday morning, Lance and I did lead our group across it; what a boy!) He also crossed various wet spots, and waded into a small pool to get a drink.

Towards the end of our Sabbath ride we were climbing, climbing, climbing. Not only was the riding there the most hill work Lance has ever done, this was at the end of the longest ride we've ever done. He started breaking into a trot and when I checked him back to a walk, He Just. Stopped. After it happened the second time I got the hint that my youngster was tired, and led him the rest of the way back to camp. He had earned a break. :-)  (A note here on equipment: Lance wore his Cavallo Simple Boots both Friday and Saturday. At the end of the long Saturday ride, there was considerable rubbing on his hoof walls, so I didn't use the boots again. I've been very happy with them for shorter rides; was disappointed that they wore on the hoof walls so much on the longer ride.)

The only other trouble we had was standing still; as here at home, Lance needs something to do. On Sunday morning while we were waiting for everyone to mount up, he started fidgeting and sashaying about and managed to get hung up on the campsite marker post cutting his inner left thigh. It is a superficial wound, but still ugly and hurts me to see it. :-(

There is a facility not terribly far away set up with three levels of trail obstacles. I'm going to see about hauling Lance over there for some schooling. It would be a good training opportunity, and would also be good preparation for the trail class at the State Fair!


Mary said...

This is great news Michelle. You probably already know all this, but `LSD is the mantra of endurance training. Long Slow Distance. I walked Woodrow for 2 weeks when I started training him for short endurance rides, and then added in trot, then canter. If Lance is this steady on the trail, you might want to consider doing some distance riding with him. It's great fun to out for miles and miles and miles with just your horse.

Theresa said...

What a great post! Big pets all around that Lance handled it all so well on his first (of many I'm sure), camping trip.

Michelle said...

Thanks, ladies! Mary, I used to ride for miles and miles, just me and my horse . . . but that was B.B. (before Brian). Now that I have a son, I am not at liberty to take off like that. Brian doesn't want to go with me, and no, I don't trust him at home alone.

Mary Ann said...

I loved this post... Lance became a Real Horse to me in it!

Anonymous said...

Lance is proving himself a true multifaceted horse! Looks like a wonderful time was had by all.

The day will soon come when Brian can be trusted to mind himself for several hours on end. Or he has a part-time job to keep him occupied as a teen. :)

MegF said...

Why do you have a religious oriented trail riding group? I saw someone at a trail ride advertising on their business card "Christian horse sitter" for pet sitting. I asked him what did that mean because "My horses aren't religious". I hope you also are willing to ride with non-Christians because trail riding really doesn't need to be a religious event.

Michelle said...

You're absolutely right, MegF; trail riding doesn't need to be a religious event, and yes, I ride with all kinds of people when I have the time and opportunity. (I haven't taken a poll, but my chosen sport of dressage seems particularly populated with non-religious folks.) I do enjoy our group's weekend camping trips, though, because we worship as well as ride together. There's a common bond among us because we are deeply grateful to our Creator for all that He has made, especially the horses that we love so much. And we're not "exclusive;" anyone is welcome to join us!