Saturday, March 12, 2011

Blazing a New Trail

Today Jaz and I went down the other road in our development, which we have never done before. I drove it yesterday to get the lay of the land. It isn't connected at all to our road or any of the offshoots of it, so I never have any reason to be over there. It's much different than the road we live on.

Our road has 5-acre lots, while the other has 2-acre lots. There are more houses, more vehicles, more people, more dogs. The ride is shorter and the hills steeper. To get to the road, we have to ride several hundred yards on the easement of a fairly busy highway. As soon as I pointed him in that direction, Jaz started acting up. I couldn't get him settled, so I got off, only to discover that the reins were crossed under his chin. Oops. How did we do that? Fixed it, got back on, and off we went. He was on high alert, so I talked and sang to him the whole time. He didn't like some of the (to him) unusual things on the side of the highway, like mile markers, flood markers, etc., but we did a few circling moves and got past them.

We met a little girl named Crystal who was obviously enamored with Jaz. She was thrilled to feed him an alfalfa cube.

We didn't take one of the side roads off the main road because when I drove it yesterday, there were no less than 5 dogs running loose. Man, I hate when people let their dogs run. Spaniels and Yorkies don't have a lick of sense.

On the way back, along the section of highway I alluded to earlier, there was a group of about 6 horses pastured on the opposite side of the road from us. They had ignored us when we went by before, but this time they came charging toward the fence. They were far enough away that there was no excuse for Jaz to start calling, backing, spinning, etc. I was afraid he'd take us out onto the highway and get us killed! I got off and popped him about three times until he stood still and shut up. I mounted again and we went on, but the other horses were running and bucking, happy for the distraction, and for some reason, Jaz felt compelled to react. I ended up having to walk him to the entrance to our road. We are the first property and the honey hole is just across from us, so we stopped there before heading in the gate.

Mr. Fry said Baby D ate his grain and never called out. Good boy.

Last week when we rode at Iron Ridge, Kris's gelding Voodoo was out in the pasture inciting the other horses to riot. Jaz and I were in the arena, far, far away from the drama, but he acted up nonetheless. It's crazy to me that we were walking down the highway with motorcycles and semis whizzing past us and Jaz was fine. Horses far enough away and separated behind a fence should not be causing him to act like an ass. Any ideas on how to work on that?

I remember now why I'm tired: I must have dismounted and remounted 6 times.

Will we do it again? Maybe. Our road is the better ride. I may do it again just to shake Jaz up.


Anonymous said...

Other horses running and bucking will get most horses upset, in my experience, even if (sometime more if) it's at a distance. Glad you both survived your outing - I also get off and walk if need be (assuming the horse leads well).

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Loose pastured horses running around are a huge distraction for most, if not all horses. With the loose dogs, motorcycles and semi trucks you were sure on an exciting ride. I'm a nature trail kind of girl....riding on a road has a huge element of danger. You're much braver than I am.


BrownEyed Cowgirl said...

Loose horses that are running and/or bucking and playing sure seem to bring out the high alert tendency. It's no fun when your horse is really freaking out. I have gotten off before too. It's so hard to tell what they are going to do.

Crystal said...

Wow sounds like you dont need ot go to the gym after that ride! Often times it seems llike the things that upset a horse are totally opposite of what we humans think it should be

cdncowgirl said...

Same situation usually causes reaction from my horses too... although not as extreme, they did get antsy.
IMO its because of the herd mentality. Other members of their species are all riled up so SOMETHING must be happening (little do they realize they are the something lol)

By the way isn't it time you consider changing the "first time horse owner" part of your tag line?

Leah Fry said...

Sounds as if there may be nothing more I can do other than be aware of these things and get off to TRY and avoid the problem. In time, he may adapt to that particular herd of goofballs. That leaves every other herd of goofballs in north Texas ...

He used to react the same way to the Labs down the road. As a matter of fact, the only time I've come off Jaz was the first time those dogs came barreling out. Now, he doesn't even flinch.

I get the whole herd mentality thing, and I get that he may think he needs to stop and check it out. What he does NOT need to do is spin and back and do stupid things that can get us hurt. Stop and look is okay. He still needs to listen.

I once told Heather that Jaz spooked and stepped on me. She asked if I punished him, to which I replied no, and that it wasn't his fault. She said he needs to be more afraid of the consequences of hurting me than anything else that can happen to him, otherwise they'll think running you over is an option in saving themselves. I believe the same principle applies here.

That hairy part with the traffic is only a couple hundred yards between our road and the other half of this development. If I do it again, I'll walk that part, but like I said, our road is the better ride.

Believe me, if I had another place close that I could ride without having to trailer him, I would. The guy across the road has a hundred acres, and I've asked him, but his answers are always vague. I assume he doesn't want the liability, so I let it go.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Could you ask that landowner if you could sign a release of liability form?

Right beside our neighborhood is about 400 empty acres with pastures, a ridge and quite a few trails. Crossing it will get us closer to the National Forest trails, too.

When I used to lease out his land to pasture Baby Doll over there, I asked him if I could ride over there anytime I wanted. He didn't mind at all, but asked me to sign a release of liability form, which I did.


Rising Rainbow said...

Leah, I think horses are just like dogs in that kind of a situation. It's an instinct thing. They need to be desensitized to it so they will quit reacting badly. It would be hard to do that safely where you are talking unless there is an off time for traffic but there would be other ways you could work on getting Jaz responsive to you while other horses are loose and playing and even while others are running under saddle near him. Working on those kind of situations will help.

Think about the cowboys herding horses or even cattle on horseback. A good cow horse has been taught to ignor its herd instince in that situation and do what they've been trained to do.

Endurance riders deal with the same issues when races start. They don't want their horses to take over control and running with the pack. They need control not only for safety but to keep their horse going at a rate suitable for it so they don't mess up their vet checks etc.

You can fix it. You just need to be creative about setting up safe situations to school him through.

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