Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A habit I hate, a.k.a here's where I get off

Strangers in company

T's Rufus is bottommost on the herd pecking order. He's also, like many of his picked-on, four-footed brethren, extremely herd bound. When it's just T and I riding, Rufus often comes back sweaty, not from exertion but because he's nervous about being "alone" - he doesn't trust Sunny to watch out for him, so he's constantly on the lookout for bush monsters. With even one of his pasture buddies along, he's much more relaxed.

A little consideration
goes a long way

More horses can mean more security, but one of the things I loathe about riding in a large group is almost inevitably there are those one or two people who see nothing wrong in galloping up behind/past whoever happens to be in front of them with no regard to space or thought for safety.

And on one memorable occasion, a man who should have known better riding a chargey black mare used my at-the-time young and fairly green gelding as his personal braking service. Every hill we descended, she was breast to rump behind Sunny because he couldn't rate her otherwise. It was NOT fun, but I was too intimidated to say anything much at the time.

It's bad enough in big groups.
It can be worse in small ones.

Personally, I like to be very certain of the footing and Sunny's general attitude before I lope, let alone tear off madly across the countryside.

Mass charges are for cavalry!

Chasing a cow? Sure, Sunny'll scramble and scoot with the best of them. I trust him on rough ground, and I - mostly - trust that he'll listen. Speed events - again, there's focus and purpose to flying.

But I don't like racing.
(Okay, yes, I have control issues.)

Sunny's not a hot horse - if anything he's a touch on the pokey side, especially by stereotypical reactive Arab standards. If the other horses forge ahead, he's fairly unconcerned. If they lag behind? He's okay with that, too. Which is fine by me, and I'd just as soon keep it that way.

Back to Rufus.

If Rufus is unhappy about leaving his herd, he's really unhappy about them leaving him behind. It's true when he's in the pasture loose, and it's doubly true when he's out on the trail. We don't know much about his background, but it's apparent that he a) was ridden by someone at some point who taught him a lot of GOOD things, and b) was last ridden by someone who let him get barn/buddy sour.

Which is a pain.

So, apparently last week while I was at work and T was riding with friends they thought it would be fun to "race". What started out as a nice lope turned into a two horse dead heat - and Rufus took T along for the ride. Although Rufus stopped when the other horses did, whoa flat wasn't on his agenda until his buddies stopped running.

T was not amused,
although his riding companions
found it highly entertaining.

Over dinner this weekend, noises were made about me being next, along the order of "You just need to open that horse up! It'll be good for you." Huh.

Friends are like that sometimes,

I may not have been brave enough to tell the guy on the black mare where to park it way back then. I am now. And I'll say it again - not funny guys.


Tammy said...

Having ridden with my husband and boys for years, they used to drive me nuts when they did this because usually I was on the young horse because my kids always stole my good one! My horse now, Windy, is sooo laid back and does not care who flies by her. I love her for that! My hsuband and kids can take off like a bat out of hell & Windy will just lope along. John keeps saying "she has wheels, let me try them" and I say "no thank you, her wheels are just fine like they are!"

On the flip side, I go nuts with those who never want to do anything but walk. I have to break it up. I've hollered ahead that I will be coming up and going around so people can get control if they worry & still get in trouble. And my fast is not fast! LOL!

Love your new header picture!

SunnySD said...

I know I was one of the ones tearing by people willy-nilly once upon a time - but now I'm all for a bit more moderation.

But I know exactly what you mean about the always-walkers. I have to get off and walk periodically, if that's all we're doing. Not enough changing positions, I guess, but if I don't do some trotting or loping or get off an walk along for a bit, my back is NOT happy with me by the end of the ride. Not to mention it's kind of boring! :)

Sarah said...

I havn't had any expereince in large group rides, but it sounds like it would be very frustrating if it was like that. Maybe I stick with tiny group rides...like me and one other.

SunnySD said...

Hey, Sarah - it can be frustrating, but don't let me discourage you from trying an organized trail ride of some sort, or even just going horse camping or day-tripping with a group of friends. In spite of the occasional incident, I've invariably had a wonderful time. Tammy, who posted above, has a great blog and website devoted to her trail adventures.

Go prepared and expect to encounter the unexpected, and I bet you'll enjoy it :)