Monday, October 08, 2012

Houston, We Have A Problem

And Chance Doesn't Like It

The line, quoted from the Hollywood epic, Apollo 13, suits well what happened on my trail ride today.

I decided since it was cool, lovely, and quiet out in the woods, I would take Chance out for a nice hack. He was, at the outset, delighted, and it was all I could do to keep him in a walk through the overgrown woodland path on the way out.

When we got to the edge of the field, I let him trot on a bit. He broke into a little canter for a very short distance and then I reined him back in because I was intending to turn into the woods trail just beyond the bend in the road.

Good decision. That bend was the blind curve where the minibike had appeared the day I fell off on my new knee last year. (It was November, however....)  Just as we started to round the curve, both Chance and I spotted a riding toy fire engine sitting by the edge of the woods.

A TOY FIRE ENGINE!! What the hay?  Junk dump again? I cleaned up that area months ago, and now someone was using it to dump a used toy? Beats me. It's hard to judge the scale from the pictures, but this truck is big enough for a child to ride in and was once battery operated. I guess it must have some kind of motor in it but the wires are all loose and dangling.

But there was no time to figure out what it was doing there because Chance spun around in a panic just as he did the day the minibike appeared, actually gave a little buck and tried to gallop off.  I was not in mid-dismount this time, so I was able to stay in the saddle and managed to stop him from bolting. But I decided not to tempt fate and we jigged and jogged our way back the way we had come until I turned him into the Tucker Trail path into the woods.

What was good is that I stayed on just fine and was able to regain control and he settled down for the rest of the ride. What was bad was that this is now the second time he has been somewhat justifiably spooked at the same spot. I am now pretty sure I will not be able to ride him safely past that spot unless I do some serious remedial work.

Step one will be to get that darn truck out of there. Or, step one will be to put the truck there and take Chance out on a lead line and just introduce him to it. Either way, I am not going to go out with him under saddle until I have desensitized him to that particular curve. Clearly my falling off and his galloping home the first time was traumatic for him. Now, this new scary thing has just cemented fear in his brain.

I walked back out to take the pictures I've used. I was going to bring the truck home for the garbage man, but it is too heavy/cumbersome to move without a wagon, the tractor, or perhaps, my truck. However, I just called the farmer who farms the property and he said the darn thing had been there for months. He told me he'd send some of his guys out there over the weekend to get rid of it.

On the way back from my picture hike, I heard Toby whinnying. I think he was actually calling for me, because when I was in sight of the gate, there he was, looking anxiously out into the woods where I had gone. Tucker greeted me as well, but not with the same concern Toby showed. I felt loved. *G*

So, I guess Chance and I have some Fire Truck schooling to do this week. Might be good for Tucker and Toby too, but I will have to see how exhausted I get hiking out there with one horse before I try all three.

Meantime, back at Follywoods, I would like to introduce my arena steward, supervisor, Peppercorn the Magnificent. He likes to watch me ride.

And Miss Misty the Aerialist is working on her high pole act for my endless entertainment.

Kitties are so cute.

 In closing, I cannot forget Chance. He poses for pictures better than anyone, but here he is in a candid shot at the water trough after his exciting trail ride.
The sun is setting on another day of adventure at Follywoods, where there's never a dull moment.


  1. I was wondering how you got pictures of the firetruck from the back of a spooking horse! Much wiser to go back later.

    I'd probably park the fire truck right next to the pasture, but I'm sort of mean like that. They'd get used to it in a hurry, though! My horses had to learn to get used to things like that quickly once I had kids. My property is littered with little cars, scooters and bikes. There's even a giant beach ball floating around somewhere.

    Glad to hear you got a ride in, it's been rainy and cold all day down here. Straight from summer to winter!

    1. The big problem was not so much the truck, but where the truck was. Desensitizing him to it at home would be fine, but I need to do it out there on the trail. It's the same spot where the minibike scared him and I fell off, so he is already worried when he reaches that spot. The fire truck reinforced a terrifying memory. I'll be taking him out there tomorrow if it doesn't rain and work with him in hand.

  2. I too think having the fire truck in view all the time would desensitize Chance. Then once he is totally used to it put it (or a reasonable perhaps lighter replica) in different places to "surprise" him.

    1. Poor boy was really scared. My falling off last year and his running home in a panic left a really bad memory for us both.

      The "Moby Chair" experiment did not work very well with Tucker. Everytime the white plastic chair showed up somewhere, he spooked at it, even when it sat by the arena and in the arena for days where he was turned out. I think he just enjoys spooking at things to entertain himself. *G*

  3. Your kitties are adorable. I think you have a good idea in place to take him out to the spot where he is nervous. Once you hand walk him to the scary spot and show him there is nothing to fear he may just get desensitized and be fine the way he used to be. Glad you didn't come off while he was spooking this time.

    You're right it doesn't look that big in the pictures but I'm glad the farmer will have his guys take it away for you. People really are such litter bugs. You wonder why they couldn't have thrown it in the trash at home.

  4. A sensible equine companion and rider would be the best influence of all.

  5. i'd be inclined to take him up to it on a long line and with lots of treats, you do need to be able to get past that corner, and then carry on in hand past it...and then perhaps when the farmer moves it have him move it to somewhere where they can see it all the time? perhaps?