Saturday, March 24, 2012

Harley hits the double digits and I ride 2 horses in one day!

Halawa Moon--my best boy!
Harley turned ten Friday--twice as old as our fillies. Sometimes he acts his age; sometimes his shoe size (somewhere between 00 and 0). Yesterday, he acted his age and even though we headed out on our own, he did well. John and I have spent so much time riding together, Harley has had the luxury of company on the trail--someone else to take the lead now and then and face the "demons" out there.

After our last episode with the goats, I decided that rather than start off the ride with an obstacle, we'd take the easier route and face the goats at the end, when we were nearly home and he had no option but to walk past them. So we headed out the Orris Falls trail. With the sun shining, a wind blowing, and not too much heat, it was nearly perfect. Harley stopped when a mountain biker came skidding down the mud--his first mountain biker of the season. But he moved forward easily. It wasn't until the biker turned around and came up behind him through the mud that Harley spooked. And of course, that was right at the moment when I was riding on a loose rein, listening to the birds, and singing to Harley (his favorite--Oh, Harley was a racehorse....) There's a reason he likes to watch his back trail. You never know what might sneak up on you!

With the ground soft and forgiving, we had a couple of nice trots. He was eager to go, especially when we turned left up towards Big Bump. I think he thought, Oh good, we're heading home. But rather than going down the power line, we continued on to the Savage's land where we have to pass all kinds of spooky stuff in their drive: snowmobile trailer, tractor, woods piles with blowing tarps, a canoe, and worst of all--a deer (target)! Harley's convinced it's real. At the bottom of the driveway, he pulled his stunt--pulling to the left to go home. I should have seen it coming. The only thing to do is circle him and continue on (then he's Mr. Grumpypants) until he relents and steps out.

We rode up towards North Point, but rather than heading towards civilization, I decided to keep us in the wilds, crossing brooks, watching for turkeys, etc. I rode a nice little loop which included a lovely canter and a little jump over our favorite fallen birch. Since Harley has had little schooling over fences, he sometimes heaves over things a bit awkwardly. So I reminded myself, the old mantra: Head up, heels down, look forward (not down)! He handled it nicely and then trotted through a pair of nature's cavaletti, a couple of downed birches laying over the trail--he got a big pat for all that! My good birthday boy!

Rough & Ready--our jumper girl
With the current heat wave, our horses decided they would only eat their dinner outside. We've had a hard time getting our 2 ADD OTTB's Harley and Rolex to eat up their grain. So John came up with a solution. Feed them outside! Of course there's a fair bit of musical feed buckets, but at least it's all getting cleaned up whereas before, half the feed remained. Ruffy, our big girl, never left food until spring fever hit.  But now, she's back on track, chowing down her entire ration.

Rolex Girl--our baby girl
Poor little Rolex; she wants to share. Her idea of the perfect setup is eating with everyone out of the same bucket. Harley tolerates her nose in his feed for a bit before chasing her away. Then she tries the same thing with Ruffy, who's less tolerant. And on top of that, Rolex likes a feed pan, rather than a bucket, because then she can see around herself better. Her eyes aren't deep in a bucket. So the only way I could get her to really eat the other night, was to hold her bucket waist high so she didn't have to worry--I'd watch out for her. If there ever was an "in your pocket" horse, this girl is it. She likes to be mollycoddled and is just like a puppy. She followed me around the pasture while I distributed hay, trying to tear it out of the bail. She's the baby of the bunch, and her behavior reflects it!

John met me out at the barn after work and I got in my second ride of the day. He rode Ruffy and I rode Roley Girl. This was the first time we'd taken the girls out without Harley along. For all his foibles, he does redeem himself by "jump-starting" the girls when they stop to look at things they are unsure about. Unless Harley's in terror (ie. goats), he will usually go forward without too much fuss. So there we were--trying to get our girls to move forward down the trail. It went something like this: stop--logs, stop--mud, stop--water, stop--??, who knows why?

Riding Rolex is SO different from Harley, both in build and way of going. For one thing, she's much narrower. Secondly, she has a cat-like quality going up and downhill. Her balance and athleticism is amazing on tricky terrain. Unlike many OTTB's she picked up quickly how to maneuver on steep, slippery footing. Watch and observe, Harley! She's not very keen about walking through water and would rather jump a ditch than mess her pretty toes. She caught me off guard as I was trying to get a dead branch out of the way--whoops, lost my stirrup as she leaped! Ruffy, on the other hand, likes to jump any obstacle in her path--brooks, ditches, logs, stone walls, etc. John has a jumper on his hands!

We had an awesome ride. Hopefully, we can sneak in another Saturday evening. Rain returns Sunday, bringing colder weather with night time temperatures back in the twenties. Mother Nature is reminding us it's barely spring. The heat wave was only a teaser!

The whole gang


  1. Hi - thanks for commenting over at my blog. Can't believe I hadn't been here before now. Glad we found each other. :)

    1. Ditto! Thanks for visiting our blog. I love to read about what other OTTB owners are up to. :)

  2. Your ride so so awsum! Harley doing so well with a tricky sneaky mudsliding mountain biker, that is fabulous. I wonder if you ever give your horses treats while out on the trail after they do something really great? I know there is a big controversy about treating horses these days. I love hearing about the differences between Harley and Roley. Those narrow horses can be so much fun--easier to stay on, my brain likes to think--I'm just like a clothespin on Bill's horse Glitter. And I've got a grumpypants too sometimes! Hee hee. Our heatwave is gone too. Back to 18 degrees tonight. Phooey.

    1. Do they get treats? You bet! We usually carry a carrot or two in our pockets. And that's another advantage of bitless bridles--easier to chomp on them! I love your analogy of being a clothespin on narrow horses. It' so true.


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