Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Up on the mountain

and down in the valley...it was a wonderful trip with our horses.  Overall, I'm so happy with our rides.  Me and my horse.  Yes, he really is starting to feel like my horse.  

From the first time I saw him, I fell hard.  Lurked on the internet for well over a year, kept tabs on him.  Called the rescue gal and talked about him, asked questions...wondered why, if everybody who met him loved him, then why didn't anyone ever take him.  ???   Then one weekend the rescue was having an adoption event in Central Oregon - several hours drive away from us.  I inquired if Eagle would be coming?  Kate said, "yes, I'll bring him for you, so you can meet".  Heart palpitations...  my hubby or likely nobody else either, believes me, but it's the truth - I went there with the intention of getting this horse out of my head.  You know, move on and realize there wasn't anything special about this horse in a plain bay wrapper.  We didn't need another horse!  Weren't even looking for one.  But it's all history now, you know that's not what happened.  I was smitten.  Totally in awe - just couldn't live without making this horse mine.  He felt like mine from that first moment we made eye contact.  Among a sea of bay horses, I recognized him the instant I saw him.  I was staring, likely mouth hanging open, and he turned that direct gaze now so familiar to me, directly at me; like what are you looking at?  With such intelligence.  Such feeling and depth in that gaze...aahh truly gone.

You know what I believe?

He was waiting for me - even then.  Call me crazy, whatever; but I believe that we were meant to be together.  I don't even begin to understand it.  I just know it.  He is proving to be my best teacher ever.  He takes no crap, he's very opinionated, has a very wide stubborn streak, knows exactly what he wants, and doesn't want to do.  Makes no bones about letting you know his wishes...in a lot of little ways and has the most balanced sense of justice and fairness of any horse I've ever met.  And he does it all with kindness. He's all boy and that's not necessarily a good thing.  I think maybe I understand mares better.  I don't know...

But I'm learning that he is honest, this horse can be trusted.  If I'm there for him, all there mentally and physically, he's all in.  Whatever you say, we can do...confidence and relaxation is the ultimate key to the comfort of this horse.  Not different from most horses, but this one in spades.  Is this a Mustang trait?  Are they wired just a bit differently?  I have no idea, but I've never had one before so I have no comparison.  I just know he is more than any horse I've ever known.  Just more horse, in all ways.  Can't really explain it.

See this picture down here?  We were a little busy to take many pics, but of the ones we have, this one really means a lot to me.  This is me sitting in my chair being absolutely overwhelmed.  This is me realizing my dreams of the past 5 years with this beautiful horse are coming true - have just come true!  It was right after our Saturday morning ride, and it was just perfect. Seriously, just the sweetest ride I can remember, ever, I couldn't even wrap my mind around how amazing it had been.  I just had to sit, with my hands cradling my face, overcome with emotion. Never in my wildest dreams had I expected what he had given me that day.  He had given me his all.  Talk about a Sabbath blessing!  I felt so thankful and so humbled.  Words just can't explain how I felt right then.

Words like awesome, solid, steady, relaxed, safe, sensible, perfect, true...keep coming to mind.  He deserves every single one of those descriptive words and more.  Truly.

But, all our rides weren't like that.  I had my moments where I got kind of scared, felt like getting off, even did once because I couldn't make Eagle move.  We were just going along, okay but not totally at ease and I heard something in the forest up on the hill above us.  I know he heard it too, because he flicked an ear and just barely glanced upwards, but because he reacted so little, I didn't worry.  Within a minute, he stopped and abruptly tried to turn around.  Leaving the other 2 riders and horses, he just wanted to go back.  Nothing I did would make him go forward, instead he started backing up or kept trying to spin around.  I had to have my hubby ride back and plant his horse in front of me so I could get off.  I checked his bridle thinking something might be wrong, nothing.  He wouldn't even lead for me.  My friend (thankfully) had brought her halter along, and I pulled his bridle and put the halter on.  It was better, but still quite the struggle to get him to go on down the road.  I have no idea what that was about.  After a while, he stopped trying to go back and just led quietly.  So, after we got back to camp I switched bridles/bits and Alicia and I rode a little loop just to check things out and end on a brighter note.  He was perfectly fine.  Hmmmm...

You can see how I'm pitched forward that I wasn't totally at ease here.  We had 4 rides total.  Friday evening was about a 20 minute jaunt just to stretch our legs and see how we both felt and even though it was sweltering hot, I was thankful for Eagle's energy level was low.  So short and sweet, ride #1 was pretty good.  Then that blissful ride of Saturday morning that I hope I can always remember!

Last night after feeding the horses, I just sat there and watched them eat and tried to recall exactly what, if anything, I'd done differently that morning that I didn't do the other times.  (Ray used to ask us if something really good happened, "what did you do right b4 that good thing happened?") All I can come up with is my level of relaxation was good, we were on a single-track trail that had lots of ups and downs, which kept us both busy.  Busy watching where we were going, picking our speed and stepping over small logs or rocks.  We both had a job.  We weren't just plodding mindlessly down the trail...trying to relax.  

Looking back, I think I'd probably mentally left Eagle.  I wasn't doing anything to really ride him, just walking down that little road like that.  I had let my horse down.  I'd left him alone and he knew it.  I could be wrong, but I was preoccupied with trying to maintain my level of comfort, or focusing on being relaxed and just wasn't doing a good job of any of it right then.  My horse said, I'm out and just wanted to go back.  Make sense?  I wish I would have just taken a break, stopped and spent a few minutes reassuring him and then tried moving along again, after he felt good again.  At least if this kind of thing happens again, I have something to try.  Something that might make a difference.

Me and my friend Alicia riding her horse of 18 years now, Tess.  They're a good team, have hundreds of miles of trail riding experience, and about the best riding buddies anybody could ever hope for. Just having them along with us, gave me a measure of confidence that was appreciated.  I'm hopeful we can get together again this summer and ride another trail.  We had so much fun.

I really hate that helmet.  But I wore the blasted thing every single time.  Better to be safe right?  *sigh*

Missy as usual, was a very good girl.  She does quite well on the flat, but does suffer a bit from the ups and downs of the mountains.  She is always a fun little mare to ride, no worries, just prefers that amazing little jog of hers to walking most of the time.  Another calming influence and great riding partner.  Even so, my hubby dearly missed his riding buddy, Ladde; who we all know had a long and lonely weekend at home without his "woman".  When we got the horses back home, he wasted no time herding up his little gal and whisking her off to the far end of the pasture.  Last seen, they are still grazing nose to nose.  True love...  :)

So each ride got progressively a little bit longer and farther out, nothing bad happened, all returned safe and the weather was great.  Wonderful memories were made, saddle pads were sweaty, trails were good, skies were blue and the camp ground was fantastic. Seriously, whoever imagined water faucets at every single site?  This place is close to home and they have showers.  I want to come back here again!  The first thing I remember saying when we got in the truck to head for home was, "I can't wait to do it again!".

A very good sign.

Blessings all,


Annette Mickelson said...

Big, big smile!

DJan said...

I love to hear all about your riding. I'm not a horse person, or at least I've never had one and have only been on the back of one a few times. But I do remember how sore I was after a short ride. My thighs were really sore! :-)

Kate said...

Your post brought a big smile to my face - congrats to you and your fine horse!

fernvalley01 said...

Just wonderful! I am so happy for you

Michelle said...

Wonderful; congrats are in order! Especially for doing it all with helmet secured; did you read in the newsletter about the OTHER concussion sustained by a member of AHA? It's just not worth the risk....

T.L. Merrybard said...

Woo hoo! So pleased for you, Lorie! You have no idea how pleased!

Re that one not so good ride. Do you think maybe he smelled whatever made that noise in the woods just before? As a mustang he would be much more keenly attuned to predators because his very recent ancestors have lived or died by their alertness. Maybe when you know him better you will be able to trust him at those times and say, ok dude, some bad thing is there, let's not go on. He might have frozen because he wasn't sure where it was and scent might have been all around. I don't think it was a soundness issue, since he was ok again the next time.

Linda said...

What a wonderful update!! I've heard people say Mustangs are no different than other horses, but that hasn't been my experience with Beautiful. She seems way more tuned in to the little things--body language, horse body language--all of it. And, she also has a sense of fairness and order. It seems they would have to because of surviving in the wild.

That's interesting that he turned around, but I bet you're right about the why. The green ones seems to need a lot of support. At least Leah does. You sure look relaxed together in the pictures though. We're not there yet--I still have two busy hands. Of course, he may have smelled or saw something you guys didn't. The fact that he was willing to leave the other horses kind of makes me think so.

And, as far as helmets--it's better to be safe than sorry. They're extremely uncomfortable, in my opinion, but I'm wearing one, too.

Hope you get back to that special place soon!

aurora said...

I am SO so happy for you & love that first picture too!! Some things aren't meant to be explained, they are just meant to be. We always try tho don't we, it's part of the processing for us over thinkers. What a gorgeous campground! Glad you had another seasoned horse along, always helpful. I wear my helmet when I feel the need (I know, it shouldn't be selective) makes me feel more secure, albeit uncomfortable.

When Koda was younger he used to do similar sudden refusal to go further, turn/spin around and walk away from the others...to put it mildly, it is very frustrating. Sometimes happened towards the beginning of a trail ride when we were heading out. Sometimes in the middle. Never towards the end, because he knew we were going home. He was simply choosing not to go. Still does once in a while. We've worked through it in different ways. What works best for us is to catch "it" before it happens and keep going forward. It's much harder to change their mindset otherwise. Depending on the situation, temporarily ponying with a trusted horse works too. When they spin, make sure you aren't inadvertently pulling back on your reins (they have no where to go, so they keep turning). Easy to do when things get discombobulated. Stop, realign and ask forward. Easier said then done. With Koda, it has nothing to do with tack - it's behavioral. We all run through the list of possibilities tho. Every scenario likely has a different reason why they chose not to do it. Good to not just put them away. I am *not* saying this is what happened with you & Eagle, it is what happened(s) with us. You're reflection sounds spot on to me. Thought it might help to let you know you are not alone. Every once in a while my hubby tells me "sounds like you stopped riding your horse" I hate it when he's right, lol!

One little blip in an otherwise magnificent memorable weekend! Yay for dreams that come true!!

Bob Lundgren said...

I am VERY proud of these two.

C-ingspots said...

You are all so appreciated, love the thoughts. Thanks!!

Love you honey...glad you two were with us.

C-ingspots said...

One thing I forgot to mention about the spin and go back thing - he wanted to go back to the dead end, which was away from camp/home. We were already heading back to the camp ground. Knew it was nothing physical, except maybe a tongue over the snaffle. Interesting.

Grey Horse Matters said...

Sounds like a great riding weekend! You and Eagle are a great team!

Karen Ann said...

Love these pics.. truly, trail riding is the most enjoyable horse activity, and also better for the horses mind than ring riding, if you ask me. Handsome guy you have there, glad he's turned into "your" horse :-)

My gelding, Opie, whom we've had for about 11 years now.. was originally bought for my daughter. She had a car accident and was out of riding commission for a year, long story, but -her horse- became mine during that time. He needed the exercise and my gelding had colic surgery. I didn't bond with Opie right away, it was a mixed bag of emotions, truth be told. But something clicked at a certain point, and when the time came to decide one of the horses should be sold because there was just one of us riding, it was ultimately Opie that stayed, and I'm so glad.. he's my best buddy in the barn, wouldn't trade him. Best horse I've ever owned for my purposes.