Friday, July 12, 2019

Misadventures in Trail Riding

This riding season is starting out as in interesting one. Nothing horribly wrong has happened, but they haven't gone quite *right* either.

While I'm down to just my part-time job, and looking for a new primary job, I decided I'd go ride once a week with Mom and Bill. Yesterday was our scheduled ride day and I happily loaded my butt into my car for the drive.

After my ride last week, I knew I had to repair my HellHat and I needed to add a breast collar to Skeeter's saddle. She's filled out a bit since last year, and riding her is almost like riding a barrel. Her prominent withers aren't quite as prominent and she's a touch overweight. I spent a significant amount of time last week centering my saddle because it kept slipping.

Mom helped me quickly repair my HellHat while Bill went and pulled Alloy. I debated whether or not to slip my GoPro on, but was afraid that it would slip off since I hadn't taken the time to secure my hatband to the HellHat. 

By the time we were headed out to pull our horses, Alloy was practically dressed and ready to go. Talk about pressure! Not that Bill was in a hurry, just that I'm not used to being "behind" in getting ready. I was a bit discombobulated trying to get Skeeter ready. Had to add and adjust the breast collar, then realized that her cinch was too far back, so had to loosen everything and start all over. Then realized I needed some water and to put sunscreen on. It was just one thing after another. Getting ready for the ride, for me, was like herding cats, only I was the damn cats. 

So much stuff on my saddle horn: horn bag; water bottle; lead rope.

Finally, I had all of my poop in a group and we were ready to go. Throughout the whole getting ready mess, Skeeter was a rock star. She really is becoming a good horse. While she's not quite as "fun" to ride as Estes was, she's pretty darn solid.

Most of the time.

Unlike our last ride, I decided to ride Skeeter up to the switchback and then lead her up. What can I say? I'm basically lazy and didn't want to make the hike up there. She was going so well, and willing to attempt the switchback that I didn't think twice about aiming her toward it. I had a plan, which was to take the upper trail, so she wouldn't have to make the sharp turn. My thought was that she didn't have any bad experiences with the upper trail, so we wouldn't have any problems.

When we got to the point where I intended to steer Skeeter straight up the trail to avoid the tight turn of the switchback, but she was plodding along behind Alloy and just made the turn without hesitation. I hadn't yet committed to forcing her to take the upper trail, so I thought I'd just enjoy the ride up the trail she'd chosen. I even mentally congratulated her for just marching on past her trouble area.

Between one step and the next, it's like a flip switched in her head and I felt her freeze up. One second, we're moving along like a confident, broke trail horse and the next her brain vapor locked. She came to a complete standstill and I tried to encourage her forward, but then she remembered that bad things had happened at that spot and started to back up. Afraid that she'd back her butt off the trail like she did with Autobot last year, I slipped my feet out of the stirrups and prepared to dismount. I swung my right leg back to clear the back of the saddle just as she spun in that direction. I was left hanging in the air like Wile E. Coyote. I reached for my stirrup with my left foot, forgetting that I'd already kicked my foot out.

Down I went, my feet hit the ground (boy, that first step was a bitch!) and I rolled ass over tea kettle down the trail, hoping that Skeeter wouldn't back off the trail and down the hill. When I realized that she hadn't backed off the trail, I started hoping that she wouldn't freak out and step on me. It only took a roll or two for me to stop and pop up to my feet in the event she was headed in my direction.

Mom missed the fall, but managed to catch me just as I got to my feet. I'm calling it a win, since I still had a rein in my hand when I got up. This is one reason, though, that I prefer riding in split reins. 

I did call Skeeter a bad name, and then gave her lots of love for being so good about stopping when I went down. You can see that she's parked solidly, but worried. It took some encouragement to get her up the trail - we took the upper trail where Alloy and Beel are standing.

I lead her up the hill to the rock I've been using for the past two seasons to mount. It was just the perfect height and we've never had a problem. Mom looked at the rock and asked, "why do you use that one, doesn't it roll?"

"Mom, don't jinx me. I've been using this rock for two years!"

I checked Skeeter's cinch, stepped up onto my reliable old mounting rock, lifted my foot to the stirrup and I'll be damned if that reliable old mounting rock didn't roll right out from under me. I ended up on my back under Skeeter's belly. I could almost hear Skeeter rolling her eyes at me.

I may or may not have grumbled at Mom for jinxing my rock and continued leading Skeeter up the trail until I could find a new mounting rock.

The rest of the ride went beautifully. Beel tried to get a nice picture of Mom and I together in a field of flowers, but Alloy hasn't quite gotten the hang of standing still for him to take pictures.

Not bad for taking them from the back of a moving horse.

We retraced the beginning of our ride from last week, and Beel managed to find the boot Skeeter lost last week. We just needed to come from the correct direction - it was hidden in grass that covered it when looking at it from the opposite direction. We strapped the boot to Washoe's saddle and continued on.

The lost boot on Washoe's saddle.

Here are some gratuitous ride pictures, just because I think they're gorgeous. We're awfully lucky that we have these trails just across the street from us.

Skeeter has never given anyone trouble going down the switchback, so I didn't give it any thought. However, this time she balked at the top. It wasn't a big deal, all I had to do was point her to the upper trail, which would give her a straight shot down the hill instead of the switchback. Only, she hadn't gone down the hill that way before and had to take some time to figure out where to put her feet. I gave a passing thought to dismounting and leading her down, but one look at the rocks I'd already become intimately acquainted with made me think twice. I just sat quietly and let her figure it out. By that time she was tired and her feet were getting sore (she couldn't wear boots, because she'd lost half of her pair), but she did eventually figure out how to pick her way down the trail.

Despite our rocky beginning, the ride was awesome. I didn't get hurt in either of my falls, other than a couple of bruises on my hip/butt and a bit of road rash on an elbow; I wasn't afraid to climb back up on Skeeter; we found her lost boot; and I got to spend the afternoon riding with my parents.


Lupylisa said...

I'm really glad you didn't get hurt. But I admit that I did laugh out loud at the Wyle E. Coyote reference.

I was thinking about the time I tripped over my dog with a plate full of meatloaf and mashed taters. I managed to frisbee the whole plate across the living room before going down. It seemed like it took forever to hit the ground! I was really mad at the dog, but then Hector said, "I could swear that you waved at me on the way down!" And I pictured that damn coyote waving his little flag that said HELP before going down and hitting bottom!

On another note, seeing all the pictures makes me a but melancholy. I really miss riding up there. It was so peaceful. Cayenne and I would stop at that little camp site just east of the creek and have a little rest before continuing on up to the pond or down to the beaver dam.

Thanks for the giggle!

GunDiva said...

Lisa, those are some of my favorite places!

Shirley said...

You are lucky to have such beautiful country to ride in so close!