Monday, September 1, 2014

Collecting Wet Saddle Blankets

Since she clearly had no interest in being a mother, I had DC shod when Cthulhu was three weeks old. She had long since dried, and I had already ridden her a couple of times. I just couldn't put many miles on her or go very fast, as she let me know her feet were tender.

Of course, raising her foal myself with the help of Hoss takes up a lot of my time, and means I can't leave for extended periods in order to ride her. So I've really only been able to get a few decent conditioning rides on her in the last several weeks.

Once a horse is green broke and knows the basics, the next step is just to ride them and let them gain experience. It's often referred to as "collecting wet saddle blankets." If a horse is having problems with some aspects of riding, like crossing water or negotiating obstacles, the advice is often just to ride the horse, and ride it enough to sweat up a saddle blanket. This is what we're doing.

The day after DC got her shoes it wasn't too hot to ride, but it was too hot for dogs (specifically, Sam, the brindle, whose haircoat is very thin). So I loaded DC in the trailer and took her to Hollenbeck Canyon. It was a reasonably pleasant day to ride, and Hollenbeck Canyon is close enough to home I can get out there, ride, and get home before it's time to feed Cthulhu again.

Setting out from the house for our first ride after shoes
 This being the longest ride DC would do since having Cthulhu, we mostly went slow. We did the 6 mile loop, and started to the West. Usually I go East. I wanted to hit the flatter area early, while she still had energy. We had a pleasant ride, about half walking. We trotted a bunch on the front part, then had a nice little canter for a while before we walked most of the rest of the way back to the trailer.

After our ride at Hollenbeck
Since then, we've ridden twice at home, doing short, fast rides. Run up the hill, trot on the flats, run the last little flat, walk home. That's about three miles total. We also went out with Beth on a client's horse, Tecate, on the Alpine trails. We didn't go out for long, but it was experience. DC had a lot to say about the idea of riding on the road (in the middle, dammitall), what part of a trail she'll walk on (if there's a berm, by god she's walking on the berm!), going around logs (she wants to go over, damn it, and she doesn't care how stupid it is), and backing up on trail. We ended up in a dead end, and she was flummoxed as to how to turn around on a narrow trail with brush on all sides. So we ended up backing up until it was wide enough to turn around.

We went out to the steel bridge with Wendy on Hoss and had a nice hour and a half ride with the dogs. We needed to wear the dogs down for company later in the day, and had limited time to do it. Unfortunately, I lost my handheld GPS that day. I laid it on DC's saddle while I handed Wendy the keys to the truck. I didn't have pockets, and I wanted the keys where they couldn't be made off with by a silly mare. When I went back to DC, I forgot I'd set the GPS on her, and led her over the bridge to mount up on the other side. It wasn't until we'd gotten to where we were turning around that I realized it wasn't where I thought it was. By the time we got back, someone had swiped it from wherever it had fallen.

Coming on down to load up.
Our latest ride was again with Wendy on Hoss. First we went to see Beth so Wendy could have a lesson. While Wendy certainly isn't a dismal rider, she needed some help. She learned a lot, and Hoss showed how grateful he was for the improvement by giving her a very excellent ride in Cuyamaca. We walked the whole 8 miles, as DC still needs to build up her muscles. Both horses had a good time. DC led the first half, and Hoss took over when we were turning back toward the trailer and DC was starting to tire a bit.