Monday, September 19, 2011

So how y'all doin?

So my sister has a niece. For her birthday, my sister and I decided to take her niece on a trail ride. She doesn't get to ride too much, so this was an event that she way waaaay excited about. (ok, I was disgustingly stoked too!) It would've been better on my horse, but hey, trail rides is trail rides, am I right?

We went to Copper Valley Trail Company, in a tiny town called Copperopolis. Yes, it's a real town!! After going over basic safety precautions, we were each assigned a horse or mule. After learning that I have a Percheron that I ride regularly, I was assigned a half Draft horse named Ocho. I'm not really sure that there was a reason for it, other than I like tall Drafties, since I'm sure that any horse on their string was completely dead broke in a windchime factory on a rainy day during an earthquake. No matter, I was just excited to be out on a horse. We rode for around an hour up and down hills, across streams and through fields. It was so relaxing, it just made me wish I were out on Altivo, on our pace and terms.

The trail boss was knowledgeable and friendly, and I have to say, if I were needing to take visitors out on a trail ride, they'd be my first choice.

So I went on a short vacation, as I'm sure you noticed, right? Anyway, during my absence, we visited South Carolina, and I ended up not riding for TWO whole weeks!! Thankfully, I asked one of the girls at the barn to ride my boy for me while I was gone.
You know, I think I read somewhere about a study of horses and their long term memory, and apparently it seemed that they DO remember people from their early stages of life, so I figured two weeks shouldn't fade the beast's memory that much.
Ok, ok, so it didn't. But my first day back to the barn, I decided just hopping on and going for a ride probably wasn't the smartest idea. I decided to round pen him
That's where you put the horse in a round fenced area, and, using a really long whip, your hands, and voice, you control which direction he runs, how fast, and when he can stop. It's not necessarily for exercise, but more for the psychological control of it. In the horse world, people say it teaches the horse to respect your cues and directions.
In Altivo's world, it's a major inconvenience, and usually he just plugs through my direction, as if to say, "Okay, stoopid human, I'll let you think you're doing something meaningful here, if only to get you to be done sooner."
However, this time he threw a few kicks as soon as I asked him to canter, which are usually interpreted as a temper tantrum. After his fits, he settled down and seemed fine.
I ordered new reins from Handmade Homestead, which is where his Bosal came from, that fancy nose piece that directs his head without a bit in his mouth. They are a perfect fit, which is good, since we are going on a trail ride this weekend!! Whooooooohooooo!!!
I'll bring pictures back, I promise!

That's it for now, but I'll return soon to tell you the Tale of the Tiniest Saddle Ever. I leave you with a picture of my niece, her friend, and yours truly in the far back!


Bob Goddard said...

I like the idea of horses having a long term memory. I hope it's based on apples.

Sand. said...

More posts! : P

Nicole said...

I'd missed hearing about your adventures. Glad to hear your having fun with your big guy.
I definitely believe they remember us. I had to be away from my horse for a few months due to an injury, when I came back to see her she knew exactly who I was. She also remembers my niece who had been around her only a couple times a year since she was born, my niece is now 5. But my horse remembers get every time as the cookie girl. Every time my niece sees my horse she gives treats, either cookies, apples or carrots, so whenever my horse sees my niece she gets SO excited!

cindi said...

Yes, there was an article in some magazine recently about some research showing horses remember longtime old friends both horse and human. Cool!

Bob Goddard said...

I could be wrong, but I think I read somewhere that horses have an acute sense of smell and maybe that's how they remember us? If so, what aromas would a horse associate with a friend? And can it be bottled? In the meantime,I think I'll just make an effort to be nicer and see how that works.