Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Never Break One's Own Set of Rules

So today I saddled up Wally and headed down the trail, ignoring one of my own Rules of Engagement Related to High, Frisky Horses. That particular rule would be, "When in doubt, longe first."

But Wally looked so lackadaisical there in his paddock. I thought, "How high can he possibly be?"

I soon found out.

Everything was going fine until I passed a pile of overturned trash cans. Now, usually Wally is very ho-hum about such things, but today he acted as if each topsy turvy trash container was a portal to hell. The next sign that Wally was too high for his own good-- and my safety-- was that we turned the corner and headed past an open pasture where two gals were galloping their horses around the outskirts of a recently furrowed field. I glanced down at Wally's shadow on the ground and I could see that he was holding his tail aloft, sort of how John Henry looked when he pranced to the starting gate.

Oh dear.

As one of the riders sped past me in the opposite direction, Wally began to snort and strut. Anyone who's been aboard a really high, rambunctious horse knows that sound: it's much akin to the snort of a fire-breathing dragon. Or a vacuum cleaner.

My options were limited. I could:

A) hop off and attempt to control Wally from the ground, as I led him with my bad arm for the mile or so it took to get home

B) go the discipline route and try to get his attention focused back on me (which would require me to take a tighter hold of his mouth, not a good idea with a horse who was already bubbling to the brim with energy, much like a bottle of champagne about to pop its cork)

C) stay on and rely on another one of my Rules of Engagement Related to High, Frisky Horses: "When in Doubt, Go Forward!"

I settled on Option C. And thus I rode home much like Neptune aboard a sea serpent, with Wally beneath me gallumping along at a rollicking canter with an arched neck, enflamed nostrils and a flagging tail.

I rode past my house and went straight to the arena, where Mr. Wally was treated to about 30 minutes of flatwork. We leg yielded diagonally across the arena. We sidepassed. We loped circle after circle after circle. We made numerous loops at the extended trot. My neighbor, Audrey, rode in on her mustang gelding and asked how Wally was today. I told her all about the near-explosion on the trail.

"You're so brave, Cindy," is what she said.

No, truly, bravery had little to do with it. I merely ran out of other options. (See: A through C, above).

Naturally, once I was satisfied that Wally was both tired and submissive, I left the arena and revisited the same exact trail route I'd taken earlier. You know, just to see if Wally would behave. Or maybe I was tempting fate. Whatever.

Fortunately, Wally was fine. He even waltzed past the cluster of over-turned trash cans without so much as flicking a sorrel ear at them. However, despite my eventual success story, I know that next time, when it's cool and breezy and Wally hasn't been worked in a couple of days, I'll stick to my rules.
Have your own "rules"? Want to share those or any other thoughts, just click on "comments" below or email me at:


Anonymous said...

Whew! That's too much excitement for my blood! Glad you made it home in one piece! That particular snort is one that makes my blood turn cold. And it's one of the reasons I don't trail ride anymore! I ride in my pasture, or an arena, if it isn't windy, rainy, and only if the particular horse I want to ride is in a really good, lazy mood! LOL. And I'm glad Pooky feels better! (huge grin, see, I didn't forget!) Jamie

Jessica said...

Whew! I feel your exhuastion from that ride! I have two Fire-breathing three year olds right now, and it's about more than I can take!! I love this time of the year, and I'm thrilled they're feeling so good - but WOW. My body can ONLY take so many adrenaline rushes! Hehe.

Give Wally some treats for me! So glad he's worked through the lameness issue!

Nancy said...

I had a pretty bad riding accindent in May, and am just starting to ride again - only in a small arena with an instructor. Every time my lesson horse stiffens and goes on alert, i'm just feaky!!!!

Cindy Hale said...

Nancy, don't worry. With time and a patient, sympathetic instructor, you'll regain your confidence. I'm glad you're riding again!

As for that "snort" we all recognize: Isn't it one of the most telltale sounds a horse makes? It can only mean trouble, LOL!