Next Time I'll Ride Early
I decided to ride the trails today, with the goal of taking out all three Boys if they wanted to go.
Chance, was, of course, primed and ready. I saddled him up and off we went, taking the longish trail out to the back where the flooding is--or was. With the drought we had this summer, it still looks pretty dry back there. I may take Chance out again tomorrow and ride the back edge of that field just to see how things are and take advantage of the conditions before the rains and snows fill the place back up with runoff water. I thought, while we were out, that I might have heard ATV engines off in the distance, but nothing sounded close, so all was well.
Then I saddled up Tucker. I worked him in the arena for just a little while to see how he was going. Again, I got an ears laid back effort at the trot and a balk, but I rode him through it and then he seemed fine. Could be his hocks, could be a recurrence of ulcers..could be anything. Canter left was fine, but again he balked to the right lead but cantered OK afterwards. As I've said, I am just going to see what happens if I get him more fit, although I will probably give him some ulcer meds just to be safe on that count.
Then we headed out into the woods. He was a little hesitant now and again, stopping with his head and ears up at attention. I should have taken better note. Halfway into the woods trail, I heard racing engines. I leapt off just in time as around the bend a roaring ATV suddenly appeared on the very trail we were just about to go on. Had we been another 50 feet further, there would have been no place to go to escape. Here, at least, I could get out of the way. Tucker spooked wildly, rearing back against the rein, but I managed to hang on. He did settle from flight mode pretty quickly, but he was riveted on the ATV--three of them actually--ready to flee in a split second.
The ATV driver stopped dead and got his pals to stop too. He apologized over and over, "The last thing I want to do is scare a horse," he said. Well, too late for that, but at least he'd stopped now. I told him it was OK now and asked him to go by slowly. He and his buddies did just that, keeping their machines at a low idle instead of a roar, and disappeared down the trail in the other direction.
Tuck had settled back down, but the trouble was that he is nearly 17 hands tall and there is no way I can get back on once I'm off without a substantial mounting platform of some sort. None of the fallen trees are tall enough or open enough for a remount, so I had to lead him home. Half a trail is better than none, I suppose, but I didn't relish the walking part. That bothers my knees far more than riding at this point.
Of course Tuck stopped for numerous "salad" trees along the way, sampling lots of leaves. But he does lead nicely. *sigh*
I think I will try the ride again tomorrow in the morning, when all the ATV riders will either be at work--I hope--or in school. Tucker needs to go out on that trail without being terrorized so he has a good experience. Actually, I'm pretty sure he would get used to the ATV's if he had the chance to be exposed to them more often, but out there it always seems that they are just appearing from the cover of trees and bushes or around blind curves. You hear the engines and then there they are, racing right at you. It's not exactly the best way to acclimate a horse to them.
Needless to say, I didn't bother trying to take Toby out. He can spin and buck even faster than Tucker in the face of the "Ninja ATV's."
I wasn't quite ready to test my seat that far.