Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I Just Want To Say Thank You

by Laura Crum

I’ve had a few fun things happen horsewise, which is something I’m grateful for, as we had some long months of bad weather/very little riding. Finally my son and I are back out on the trails. Its been sunny and seventy degrees and we’re having fun again. The photos below show us riding to the Lookout yesterday, where we can see the whole Monterey Bay. My husband was able to hike with us and take a few photos. The trail was pretty overgrown in places, as you can see, but we managed to ride our favorite loop, which takes just under two hours. The mud had dried out and some kind person had cleared the big downed trees; the worst we had to do was push through some brushy stuff.

Here we are riding down the trail through the forest on Sunny and Henry.

My son and I at the Lookout—looking north towards Pleasure Point and Santa Cruz.

Headed home through the green jungle.

And hey, I learned something. Feel free to call me slow, but I’ve been riding this one little singletrack trail for over three years and I still hadn’t figured out how NOT to get my knees bumped occasionally on the tight corners where the skinny path winds along a steep sidehill between oak trees whose trunks lean inward. There is NO extra space here, one is forced to pass inches from the trunks. I would try to get Sunny to arc his body away from my leg, I’d steer wide..etc, but I still managed to bang myself from time to time. Sunny was trying to obey my cue—it just wasn’t the right cue. Now I know all you seasoned trail riders already know the answer, but I didn’t, so I’m going to provide it for those of you who also ride narrow little trails that wind between solid trees and haven’t figured this out. You send the horse straight as you go into the problematic turn, using your energy more than a physical cue, looking straight ahead and sending him that way, and then you LET him turn, again more by relaxing your energy that by an overt signal, as soon as your leg is past the possibly hurtful trunk. It worked like a charm. Don’t know why I never figured it out before. But somehow I had this little epiphany yesterday, and I quit doing the same old things that hadn’t been working and tried something different, and voila.

One thing I’ve learned in the past—when ducking under very low, solid branches, which this cute little trail also has plenty of, the big trick is to go slow. Check the horse before the limb so you can carefully calculate your dip. The only time I have scraped my neck or back is when I hurried. But going slow does not work for the tight corners mentioned in the above paragraph—those you need to flow through. If you slow down you often get stuck with your leg wedged up against the tree trunk. Trail ride fun and games.

Another fun thing I’ve been doing is riding a new horse. My friend/boarder, Wally, bought a coal black gelding named (of course) “Coal”, and I’ve been riding him up at the roping arena the last two or three practice sessions, checking him out. Coal is ten years old, completely sound, about 15.2, and has very smooth gaits. (I could lope this horse all day—which is a nice change from Sunny, who has a not-so-good-for-your-back type lope.) Coal is said by his former owner to be reliably bombproof, and so far this seems to be true. He’s a more elegant looking horse than my two little trail horses—looks more TB than QH, carries his neck slightly arched, moves very “up” in front. I don’t have any photos of Coal yet, but I’ll try to take some soon.

I’ve been enjoying riding Coal—its been awhile since I’ve ridden anything besides Sunny. As some of you may remember, it was almost a year ago that we lost the use of Smoky, Wally’s six-year-old blue roan gelding, who was badly injured when he pulled back while tied to the horse trailer and ended up upside down under the tongue, with his leg caught in the safety chains. It took twenty minutes to get him out and his pastern was cut very deeply. At first he seemed to heal OK, but then the joint became infected. The vets at the equine hospital did not think Smoky would ever be truly sound again, and Wally was about to put him down. But in a twist of fortune, a friend of ours named Kerrin agreed to take Smoky and rehab him in the hope he could be walk/trot sound for little kids.

Six months of intense rehab (and many expensive treatments) later, here is Smoky, being, as Kerrin puts it “a real gentleman for the little ladies.”

To say I am happy and grateful is putting it mildly. Smoky is such a nice horse, and yes, he does have ringbone, as predicted, and would not be sound for hard use. But he jogs without a bob in the soft arena, and his easy going (OK, lazy) temperament has proven just right for being a leadline horse. Kerrin and her group of helpers just love him, so Yay! Smoky gets a life after all.

Anyway, I just wanted to express my gratitude and appreciation for all these happy things. I realize that this is not perhaps as interesting as bringing up controversial subjects or talking about disasters, but I somehow couldn’t help but write one more “feel good” post about the delights of life with horses. We all get enough sad things—perhaps its wise to pay attention to the joy when it comes our way.

Happy in the green world.

Here’s hoping that all of you are having many happy moments with your horses. Here’s to summer. Cheers--Laura


Minus Pride said...

Nice positive post! Good to hear how the roan is doing!!!
I really liked the lookout picture...maybe you should frame that one! Do your horses get spooky when you look out there? I've never been in that situation and always wondered!

Laura Crum said...

Minus Pride--I'm not sure why a horse would get spooky at the Lookout. We don't stand them on the very edge of the bank--which would make ME spooky. But no, no horse that we have taken there has shown any apprehension. Its a nice peaceful spot.

Shanster said...

Such nice pictures! Absolutely...focusing on the joy is a good thing.

Mikey said...

You really have the most beautiful places to ride! What a view!!
Loved Smokey's story, I'm so glad he got a second chance and he looks fantastic at his new job :)

Heidi the Hick said...

Oh thank you ! I needed to read that and see those beautiful pictures.

TBDancer said...

Beautiful pictures. Monterey is one of my favorite areas. Our weather went from brisk to 105, so I guess Someone thinks it's time for summer ;o)

Laura Crum said...

Thanks, Shanster, Mikey, Heidi, and TB Dancer. I'm glad you enjoyed the post. I know I always enjoy it when I see photos of someone's lovely trail ride through pretty country, so thought I'd return the favor.

TB Dancer-Wow--brisk to 105--that's quite the shift.

joycemocha said...

What a cute li'l pair of rears in that one shot. For some reason I didn't realize that Sunny is taller than Henry.

Someone told me that trail riding trick ages ago. Of course, I've not had a chance to try it.

Glad to see the nice weather. Ours isn't quite ready to give up the clouds yet :-(. Maybe it will spread north!

Laura Crum said...

joyce--Sunny is not really taller than Henry. They are both 14.3. I'll have to look at the photo again to see what you saw.

Laura Crum said...

Ok. Sunny is in front of and slightly uphill from Henry. In real life they are pretty much exactly the same size.

Funder said...

Laura, I think you should know that I bought a rose. I think it said it's Don Juan - it's gloriously red and a climber. Anyway I blame you for this lovely new spot of beauty in my backyard - thanks :)

Laura Crum said...

Oh Funder--You don't know what you're getting into (!) Once. long ago, I assured knowing friends that horses were my passion and plants, roses included, were a mere side issue. Well... years later, I have over one hundred roses on this small property, and I have to admit they give me almost as much pleasure as the horses. I have heard many good things about Don Juan, though it is not one that I currently grow. But who doesn't love a good red rose? You'll have to let me know what you think of it. And actually, I'm glad to spread the rose obsession. Roses have given me great joy.

Fantastyk Voyager said...

The horses are not standing evenly so you look very much bigger than your son. It's a really good photo of the two of you. Such lovely trails! I wish we had a little green around here.

Laura Crum said...

Voyager--It is particularly green and jungle-y around here right now because we had a lot of (unusual for us) late spring rain. We had two inches in early June--that pretty much never happens. Thus the woods look the way they do.