Thursday, May 24, 2012

Trail Blazer

Rode Maggie out on the trail today. It's been a little windy, which always makes horses alert and ready for anything scary to blow in front of them so they can blow sideways and leave you hanging from a tree. Mags and I made it all the way up a trail we had only been on once before, and she was doing just fine. I say trail like it's all lush and gorgeous, when really a trail here in The Real World of Los Angeles is riding up a neighborhood street on a horse path (or sometimes in the middle of the street) on your wide horse (I don't think she's wide but apparently everyone else in the world who passes by and comments on it thinks she's wide), until you get to a dirt area that used to be mountains but is now new houses being built into giant mountainous lots. So it's trailesque. There are moments of trail. It's beautiful, anyway, to pass the school and have the kids yell hello at you from the playground, and to see the blue sky and birds flying around and leafy trees and green lawns. Anyway, so we get up the trail and on the way down we run into two other horses going on a trail ride. An older dude and a girl in her 20's. They don't know it, but we hitch a ride with them, secretly hoarking their ride so we can have company. I keep thinking, I should say hi, I should say hey can we ride with you part of the way, my horse is still new at everything, but instead I just steal their ride from behind, I'm taking it anyway, without telling them, because they were sort of quiet and I didn't want to kill their silent buzz, as surfers call it, I didn't want to "harsh their mellow". So they go up a big dirt trail where there's construction at the top, and I wouldn't have gone up there with out horse company, but since they're going I have the balls to go, and they're a little ahead of us, so Maggie, who has NEVER cantered with me on her, decides to CANTER up the hill to catch up. It was so exciting! She moved fast! But then we turned left to go down another trail to follow our riders, and they were a little ahead, and here's where things turn bad. Some noise scares her from behind and suddenly we're CAREENING toward the other riders at full speed. I have Maggie, she's not going to get away, but it sure looks like it. Luckily the guy's horse just STOPS, so then Maggie crashes to a halt inches from him. If his horse had gotten scared of my horse, we'd all still be running right now. I made a mental note, learn how to stop horse BEFORE bolting. Not sure how to do that. I said sorry to the guy and he didn't seem to respond, just kept going. So I turned Maggie down the first trail possible to get away and we crawled away in shame. But then the rest of the ride was fine. Mags just has like two speeds. Ambling, ambling, ambling and light speed. Then ambling again. So I'm working on tempering that light speed. I'm not as afraid anymore, because she's had weeks without one bolt at all. She's learning. She's just got to learn to get some more polite gears on her. She's like a rookie racecar driver.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Mag on the Mountain

Rode Magammemnon up the mountain today. Just the small mountain, a loop up the closest trail and back. You don't know, it's taken like 8 months of riding 4 times a week, 160 days consistently, weeks training on streets and in the arena, to get to this small victory. This is all I wanted,to be able to go up the trail, without getting bucked off, without being scared, and come home refreshed from seeing a tiny bit of wide open space. With Maggie today I learned (or reinforced), that you can't QUIT. When she wants to turn around at the top of the mountain and scurry back down the way we came, when she grinds her feet into a stop and looks at me like NO WAY, PARTNER. Ain't doin it for you, she said. My reaction today was F*#$ You Aren't. And I gave her a whale of a kick. She looked at me like awww, man. And she decided okay, I'll do it for you. There were two points in my ride where she tried to pull the plug and I had to say No. (Plug.) Go. In a forceful way that doesn't seem fitting on a pale and gentle flower such as myself. I have to FORCE THROUGH fear. The rest is sort of easy, actually. When there is resistance, I have to barrel right through it. I figure now, maybe tomorrow when I ride, it'll be a little bit easier. And next time, even easier. As I know with her, eventually our new path on the mountain will be routine, and she'll be pretty reliable and good. Then when we start driving, when I get the balls up to hitch her to the new old cart we have, I'll have to start all over with new challenges. But at least I've learned, Tough. Shove. 1400 pounds needs a strong hand, and once she learns to be safe, then it takes less and less force. And eventually our little rides and drives will be a water ballet.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

We harnessed Maggie up yesterday on a blustery warm Saturday and it took four adults to walk her and drive her on the ground, and get her used to the poles next to her stomach that we carried and jostled against her so she can get used to the shafts of the cart. My neighbor gave us her training cart to use, which is broken but I think we can fix it and then the kids will get to take little rides, once we get her used to it. Small steps to getting her ready, I figure when she's ready, the cart will be ready! It was exciting, though, to see the kids excited, and Maggie really became the Family Horse in that day, because they saw that she was going to be useful and the center of all of us, like a car that breathes, and needs food. A part of the family. Also, this unicycle is an interesting thing because it reinforces all the things I'm good at, or can learn: Stop. Climb on. Balance. Sit deeply. It's okay when your heart flips when you feel like you're falling. Fear keeps you resolute, keeps you trying. It's ridiculous, trying to sit on a pole, on one wheel. It's so pointless. It's not a skill you can use ANYWHERE. Unless maybe you're French, or a midget, or both. But that is precisely why, training a horse to drive in 2012, and riding a unicycle, are so important. Right? Because when we get her used to driving, we will be able to get somewhere at FOUR MILES AN HOUR. And when I am able to sit on the unicycle without falling, I'll be able to sit on a unicycle. hehheh

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

My Kingdom for a Butt Scratch

This is from my friend Lee on the phone: "Next time we're at the toxic waste dump, we'll swing by." Now that's love. I took Maggie on the trail alone for the first time in a long time. I was feeling brave. I did learn something, and that is you never let a 1400 pound friend that you're riding make any decisions. Once I realized I had to be very strong with Maggie, and then let her trust me, she is excellent on the trail. She says "I'm scared of that big plastic bag. Don't make me go over there. I'm thinking of turning and running away like a crazy woman on fire." She says this by arching her neck really high and looking around for the nearest fire exit. I have learned that under all that momentary fear, she is fat and lazy. So I say "Hey, you're scared of that?? Hey, let's go SEE that, let's go FAST over to SEE that." And I kick her to move forward. She immediately starts rethinking her plan of escaping as soon as there's any FAST MOVEMENT involved. She says, "Wait, wait wait, I don't REALLY want to run off. That bag isn't looking that scary. Please don't make me move faster. In fact, I'll put my head down and stop acting retarded if you stop kicking me to go faster." And that's how we had a very happy and almost relaxed trail ride today, I listened. She listened. We are almost partners. Especially if I give her a really nice carrot and a really nice butt scratch when we get home. Scratches make good friends.