Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Baby's Big Adventure: Indian Camp Creek Trail

I mean I guess at this point I should stop calling her a baby, and she has had quite a few “adventures”, but still. She’s always going to be my baby. And we’re still very much in a “baby brain” mentality, so it is what it is. Anyway. I started to type out some lengthy thoughts on my training processes with each of my different horses, but it got so long I think that needs to be it’s own post. So to sum it up now (so I can finish this trail ride recap haha), Cinna needs more life experience. Giving her that life experience is sometimes not necessarily fun for me, but it’s absolutely VITAL if I want to turn her into a solid citizen. And I want all of my horses to be solid citizens not only because it makes my life infinitely more fun, but it also makes it much more likely for them to land softly in case anything ever happens and they need to find new homes. 
Good citizens are more marketable. Trust me.

Sunday, we went on a trail ride at Indian Camp Creek that was definitely a great life experience for Cinna. She still hasn’t been off the farm that much (especially if you compare her to Ruby at the same age), so I always kind of have a “prepare for the worst, but hope for the best” mentality for outings like these. This is the third trail ride off the farm I’ve taken her on, and I’ve been very strategically visiting different trails where she’ll experience a variety of things. Her first off-farm trail ride was at the Katy Trail – there are no technical questions at this trail, it’s just wide, flat gravel. This let me focus on getting her past scary “obstacles”, including pedestrians, cyclists, and bridges. While she had a few panicky moments, overall she took confidence from her trail buddies (my older geldings), and I was pretty pleased with how she handled all the new questions I asked of her (well, I guess our cyclist interactions could have gone slightly better, haha). Our second ride was last month at Rudolf Benitt, and the questions changed a little bit. The terrain and footing was more variable (slight hills and some creek crossings), but less pedestrian traffic to deal with. She stepped up to the plate there as well.
Needs MOAR LIFE EXPERIENCES.

Those outings combined made me decide she was ready to try Indian Camp Creek Trail. ICC combines the heavy pedestrian/cyclist traffic of the Katy with the more technical questions and water crossings from RB – but the only way she’s going to get better at dealing with these things is if we go out and do them. So we went! We had an unseasonably cool weekend (highs of only 80!), and while I wanted to go riding Saturday, finishing up the arena lights took precedence. 
That light switch turns the arena lights on. They are D-O-N-E, DONE!

So I cleared my schedule and dragged my DH and mom out for the trail ride Sunday. Everyone else had the same idea we did, and the place was packed. 
Parking lot full of trailers!
Which was good, more life experiences for the baby horse! I simultaneously love and hate the water crossing at ICC – it’s the first big thing you have to deal with on the trail, and you can’t reach the main trail without crossing it. However, it’s wide enough that your horse actually has to CROSS it, they can’t just jump over (which is why I hate so many of the creek crossings on other trails). It’s fairly inviting in terms of being shallow and sandy, so that's a plus. But on a nice weekend day, it’s also filled with people splashing and playing (which can be a little intimidating for green horses -- no pictures of this, because I like living). As I expected, Cinna initially balked upon seeing the water, but with a little urging, she barged through as quickly as possible with her nose firmly anchored on Trigger’s butt. Obviously that’s not ideal, but she got through the first major question of the day, and we headed out on the main loop. The first mile or so was unpleasant because she was kind of jiggy and obnoxious, but once she settled in she was FANTASTIC.

We left the main trail twice to get in the creek again, in less populated areas, to let her get used to the water on her own terms. The first descent was pretty steep, and she was super concerned, so I got off and led her down (being very careful to stay out of her way and let her sort things out for herself) -- you could see the wheels turning as she managed to pick her way down, and then followed me out into the water with minimal hesitation. I let her splash around for a minute, then led her back out so I could climb back on (thanks fauxbarrys for making that possible, lol). 
Text break provided by a photo of one of the lakes we rode past.

She had a much easier time navigating the trail back up, and then was a rockstar for the next descent into the creek. This time she confidently struck out on her own, and had a blast pawing and playing in the water – so much so that she caught me by surprise when she dropped and tried to roll! I’m not a stranger to horses trying to roll in water, so every time she stopped to paw I moved her off pretty quickly, but she figured that one out quickly and just buckled and dropped without any pawing. Tragically DH was not filming this, because I would have loved to have it on camera, haha. I felt her start to go down so I had my feet kicked out of my stirrups prepared to get out of harm’s way, but I was able to get her back up without any actual rolling, so just my girth and stirrups got a little wet. Luckily the water wasn’t deep!
 
 


Confident that she had conquered the water and the up/down questions under her belt, we went back to the main trail to tackle her concern with cyclists – I think most of our problems on the Katy stemmed from some people not really understanding the rules of the trail and that they needed to yield to equestrians. Thankfully all of the cyclists we met this weekend at ICC were much better about giving us the space we needed to get past safely – in all of our interactions, the cyclists were willing to pull off the side of the trail a few feet and remain stationary while we walked past. I thanked them all profusely and explained she was a baby. 

 

This was also true of the other equestrians we met – depending on how the trail was set up, either our group or a group coming the other way would step off the trail and wait for the others to pass. Cinna did get hung up trying to pass a gray horse (I think she thought it was her mom?) but we all managed with no incidents. The only other notable event was a teleporting spook over a park bench that startled her when we rounded a curve – not sure how I stayed on, but we regrouped and then she got to examine the bench and get cookies from it, which made the rest of the benches we passed less terrifying. Cinna also handled me mucking around in my saddlebags (so I could drink iced tea and eat pretzels out of a crinkly noise bag) like a pro – although I’m not confident with her yet to do an entire trail on a loose rein (I am so spoiled with Ruby), we definitely had some slack rein moments where she just stretched out and motored on at a nice, swinging walk.




I also got to test out my friend’s latest paracord creation, something we’re jokingly calling a TNR (text ‘n ride). It allows you to snap your reins to a D-ring on your saddle. It will probably get way more use on Ruby than Cinna, but it was actually super helpful because towards the end of the ride Cinna shook her neck hard enough for the reins to pop over and both end up on one side of her neck (sort of not helpful for steering? lol). Thankfully she was calm enough at this point I could just lean forward and flip them back, so no disasters. 
I loaned the TNR to my mom briefly so I could get some photos of it in action!

We crossed the water easy peasy on our way back to the parking lot, and after a quick rubdown, the horses were back on the trailer for the drive home. Cinna was still tired the next morning – DH texted me a photo when he had to go get her for the farrier. Apparently she refused to get up, even letting him sit on her in the stall (which is NOT AT ALL normal behavior for her, haha). 
My phone glitched out for like the first 15 minutes, and then I paused it when we took a break in a shady area and forget to restart it right away (the gap on the right side of the map).
Sleepy Cinna on Monday.


So ultimately I am super pleased with her continuing development – with Ruby, the training process kind of went shows then trail rides, but I think with Cinna it’ll be the opposite. Building trust with her is a different process than it was with Ruby (which is fine, they’re totally different horses!) but adjusting my expectations is leading to some pretty fun outings for us. Don’t get me wrong, I still want to get her in the show ring some this year, but I think continuing to expose her to new trails and obstacles will only help her development as a solid riding horse.
Very happy with this sassy grey mare.

32 comments:

  1. That looks like a great place to go riding! I need to head north sometime!

    I'm in agreement with you on giving horses life experiences; it's so important in helping them become solid citizens!

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    1. I've always got a spare horse if you want to come ride! ;)

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  2. Life experience for babies is so good! Plus I love Cinna Monster

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  3. what a fun day!!! i LOVE the 'tnr' too haha - how clever! in the past i've used an actual bungee cord to hold my martingale neck strap up when my horse would graze, but have never had anything to secure the reins in case i wanted to let go.... which like, i totally do bc texting is important! as is picture taking!!!!

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    1. Yeah my friend has been making all sorts of fun things out of Paracord! I need to do a post about all the stuff she's made for me -- grab straps, d ring savers, the TNR, even a Paracord covered hackamore! I love them option to drop my reins to take a pic (if I'm on a trustworthy horse lol)

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  4. Sounds like a great day. I'm impressed with all you're doing to make her into a solid citizen, you're right that that's so important

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  5. That trail looks like a lot of fun. If you ever want to go and your mom and Myles aren't available I think Mort and I are ready for some off-property trails (we'll be missing them a lot very soon after all). Good girl Cinna!

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    1. It's definitely a great trail! I just wish it we're closer/easier to get to. If it were within a half hour drive I'd be there every weekend lol

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    2. I was offered someone's property locally but I need to check it out not on a horse first to make sure it's horse safe (and tall enough that it's not all branches in my face).

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    3. That's cool! I've had a handful of local offers but yeah, need to check more of them out. It's just nice to ride a well maintained trail (that I don't have to maintain lol) that is marked.

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  6. hahaha there's no one who needs the TNR more than you!

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  7. Those trails look awesome!!! Also, want your poneh.

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  8. I think all the trail riding will pay off in the show ring as well. She'll be much less distracted by people and tractors if she's used to seeing all that in the woods already. (maybe not tractors out there, but you know what I mean!)
    Sounds like a fun day! I like the rein holder!

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    1. Yeah it's just a different process than my last few - normally I wait for this much trail riding until we have more shows under our belt. But that's horse training for you -- always something new and different! Hopefully the strategy pays off in the long term πŸ˜€

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  9. What a GOOD GIRL! I'm silently rooting her on. That paracord thing is genius and now I'm wondering why I had never thought of that on my own before. I'll have to try it if we ever manage to get my mare on the trail

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    1. She exceeded all my expectations! And isn't the TNR fabulous? I can't wait to use it next time I take Ruby out!

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  10. She's such a good girl!! And you're a very conscientious horse momma for getting her out and putting her in all of these great life situations to learn more. She's gonna be a hell of a steady eddy one day (with a little dramatic Spanish flair I'm sure ;-) )

    I always talk to other trail users as soon as we're within hearing distance of one another and often before my horses have a chance to figure out something's there. The bikes slowing down definitely helps, but the identification of "human" goes a really long way in helping, too. I always chastise my horses in a mock voice in front of people, too, so they know I'm aware horses can be silly about "monsters". It always makes for great interactions and helps ease tensions for both my horses and the non-horse user who usually has no idea what a horse does beyond "the back end is dangerous!"

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    1. Oh yes, for sure -- thankfully the first group of cyclists we passed was really good about this. We kept up a running conversation as I tried to get her by them. She was visibly frightened of them at first until they started talking, and then I was joking back and forth with them about all the things she was scared of (things that moved, things that didn't move, things that made noise, things that were silent, lol). Each group after that got easier, so I think bikes will be NBD in no time!

      I think even when she is a steady Eddie someday, she will always keep her dramatic Spanish flair.... hahaha.

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  11. Babies on trail are always an adventure! I think you're doing well with Cinna though. Especially when I compare your ride to my ride. :) I do really, really wish we had water on trails out here. Seems like it would be a lot of fun, even if they drop down to roll.
    I know the technique Cinna used to go down without warning lol. My mom's mare used to do it in sand on trail!

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    1. Yeah having water for them to splash in is awesome! Even if she did learn the game fast and trick me, haha. I'm looking forward to going back again soon!

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  12. So much fun and what a great day!

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  13. So bummed that I couldn't make it. Such a nice trail.
    And not to shamelessly advertise on your blog..........but here's the link to my Facebook page for the TNR and all my other paracord products
    https://www.facebook.com/newhavenfarm/

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    1. I have a draft post started about your products, I need to get more photos and finish it! Maybe if I get my shit together it can be next week's #tackreviewthursday πŸ˜‹

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    2. LOL! I'm just flattered that you like my products!

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    3. I love that they're both functional and color customizable! You know how I feel about matching πŸ˜‚

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  14. Looks like a fun and educational ride for Cinna :)

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    1. Definitely! I'm hoping she retained most of what she learned so our next trip there is even better!

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