Monday, June 17, 2013

Harley flies solo

Harley has been spoiled by too many rides with his girlfriend Rolex. Now that summer's long days are here, I'm trying to get in evening rides. Saturday, we attempted to head out, all on our lonesome. This proved impossible as Harley began thrashing his head and backing up, refusing to go forward, away from the barn. I had a feeling this might happen. A smack on the hind end only makes him grumpy. The answer is to get off and lead him, which I did, all the way down the road to Orris Falls. Once inside the trail head gate, I mounted up, and off we went.

I trotted along in a couple of places, expecting him to spook since he didn't have his support team along. His head was in the air like a giraffe, ears up, steps springy, as we boinked our way up the trail. I anticipated him pulling a fast one at the Big Bump turnoff--a place he's notorious for this stunt. I sat down and rode him hard and we scooched past without any problems. The brook was running high due to all the rain we've had, but nothing else looked too different. Harley gave it a good look, but stepped on through. Then we came to another little crossing that had A LOT of water moving. This did not look the same as before, so he stopped short and began to back up again. I asked him to stand and just take a look, but noooo! Again, he backed up and tossed his head. OK, time for dismount number two. Even leading him up to the water didn't work. So we took a minute to just calm down. By the fourth approach, he calmly stepped across--silly bugger!

I remounted and we headed up to the top of Spring Hill. When we reached the scenic vista, he again pulled his "I'm going home" stunt. "Oh no", I told him. I jumped off for the third time and led him down the other side. This time, when I remounted, I was ready for him to try and spin back. I pushed him forward and asked him to turn on my command, and head for home. Just to keep him reminded of who was in charge, I halted a few times and made him back up which he did, but swished his tail in disgust! I also worked on lengthening and shortening his stride at the walk and trot. He was being a little too rowdy for me to want to try a canter, heading for home, with the bitless bridle! With all that extra hiking time, I was now running late, but I accomplished what I wanted--Harley had to leave home, ALONE!

Mr. Grumpypants happy to be home!
Sunday was a day of fence fixing. We had to replace a post and 10 panels, plus cut back scrubby saplings growing up against the fencing. The weather looked like it was heading downhill, and by the time we got the truck towed out of the mud (that's another story), there wasn't much impetus left to ride. So instead, John gave Harley a summer cut, a nice mane pulling so his locks won't be full of mud balls all summer. John did it so quickly--my professional equine stylist!

Thunderstorms rumbled through today, so again, no riding. But later in the week, I will have the chance to take Harley out on some more solo rides. I will have to wear my hiking shoes in case I need to walk a bit.


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  2. Sounds like a good ride and I commend the multiple dismounts. So much better for him than smacking. The walking beside him gives him confidence. It seems like it takes years to get this but so worth it in the end. My boys never liked to go alone when my mom stopped riding, so I had to walk beside often, but it all came together and they "got it" and now go alone anytime.

    The rushing back to the barn can sometimes be fixed with figure eights. (Not so easy in the woods!!!!) Sovey rushes me back to the barn still at times if he sees something and gets nervous. I try to do the half-halts like you did.

    You and Harley will find your peace - takes so much time and patience but evening rides are the very best!


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