Last weekend I was oh so excited to haul Milo to my friend's ranch forty minutes away to have a group lesson with her and another gal with Sabrina, the reining instructor. Well, we here in the Pacific Northwest, have been in an endless siege of rain lately, and last weekend the reining lesson was canceled due to horrible driving rain (and the ranch has an outdoor arena). We moved it to that Sunday, but that was the day Milo was getting his sliders back on. I didnt want to have a lesson the very same day he got shoes on after eight months without them. So we moved the lesson to this weekend.
Well, Friday was a beautiful day, a nice break from the rain we got all the rest of the week. However Saturday morning was greeted with the pounding, non-stop rain again. We wouldnt let that stop us this time though, so we scheduled to meet in a covered arena just a few miles from the ranch. Cool.
I hooked up the trailer, and with the road to the barn destroyed by the rain and water run off, I towed the rig up to the house and fetched Milo later. I already had to use 4-by to get the empty trailer out so the extra weight of Milo seemed like a bad move. So once the trailer was all ready to go, I haltered up the baby. Within steps from the barn he threw a fit like non-other that he typically throws. Leaping in the air, pulling on a halter that didnt even have tension on it (you know, that weird uppity pull pull pull with a little nose toss? anyway it was weird). He was upset by the slippery ground, the mud, and the rain in his face too, but once we get to the trailer he loaded up fine. I said bye to hubby and we headed down the road.
Upon arrival at the ranch, the rain was just as bad. We unloaded Milo into her rig and two horses and all went collectively to the covered arena, where there Sabrina would meet us. Ranch owner Kathy said to appease her husband she needed to be back at the house by 4 for a 5 o'clock hockey game. If Sabrina arrived at 2:30 on time, she still needed to tack up her horses (for demoing) and that would barely squeeze an hour in. But alright, lets try.
We unloaded the horses after some difficulty with the teeny, oh so tiny driveway (WHY do people build horse facilities and take NO consideration into the driveway?? So many barns around here have the absolute worst driveways for horse trailers). Kathy's F350 and four-horse trailer barely made the small roundabout, We figured Sabrina with her gooseneck would have an even harder time. But we took the horses down to the barn and started to tack up. As I picked out Milo's first rear foot, I thought the nails on his shoe looked a little...out. Just not as smooth and tight into the shoe as they should be, but the shoe felt securely on still. Mental note to have a word with the farrier...and then I checked the other shod foot, whose shoe was nearly sideways on Milo's hoof. Oh good lord, really? The right side of the shoe was so loose I pulled it from the hoof with one hand, and at that point, the rest of the shoe had to go. With a pair of pliers on a pocket knife, I carefully pulled the rest of the shoe away, luckily leaving no tears in the hoof wall along the way.
Great. Well, people ride with one shoe all the time, I'll get on Milo and see how he feels. So I mounted up and rode off. The slight difference made Milo unhappy, but aside from that he also just seemed off. Not in a lame way, just not his usual self. He cocked his head just so, which seemed off and he resisted going forward. Yes, he would walk, trot, and lope, but he really didnt want to, and at any moment would stop if he thought I was asking. I sat on him for a moment, deciding what to do. At three occassions that little voice said that riding was a bad idea. So at that, I decided to tie him in the aisle way with a hay bag.
Once Sabrina did arrive, time was running short and they got right into work on counter canter for the lead change, which honestly, I'm not so upset that I missed out on being as this is an exercise I work on with Milo ALL THE TIME for lead changes. What I need some schooling in is just pretty-ing up the lead change because sometimes he throws a hop in there to change. But no matter, the other horses needed the schooling. Everyone was kind enough to offer there horse for me to try a few gos on.
Oh. My. God. Not to be snarky or anything, but riding three other "capable" horses really made me appreciate my dear Milo. There was nothing "wrong" with any of the horses, heck one Sabrina's is a pretty accomplished reiner, but her movement alone made by back hurt after I got off of her, and she really never moved off my inside leg on the circle. Another horse I got on was the very same way, trying to dive into the center of the arena at any moment. And I thought Milo was lazy! This one, although a sweet boy with some skills, you literally have to push him with every stride to keep going. Talk about a leg workout! The other horse I rode I guess is really touchy in his face, but not sensitive to the bit. I expected that a horse working on these maneuvers has a pretty good grasp of collecting from the bridle. So as I worked on the counter canter circle with him, I picked up the bridle for some softness as well. At one point he reared up and I thought would trip sideways. Again, a nice horse, but with his own quirks.
It sure made me appreciate the horse I have. Milo doesnt cheat my leg (and of course there are times when he needs a reminder to get off it quicker, but never as bad as what I rode on), he's honest with the bridle, he maintains forward pretty easily. He is, after all, the horse I've been riding for seven years so all of the things that I would expect a horse to do, he does. Which is awesome and I love him so much more for realizing it. I do worry though on occassion, how well I can ride horses, not just how well I can ride my horse. But thats another post for another day.
Well, the lesson ended, we headed home, I unloaded Milo (still raining btw) and asked the hubby where we wanted to put the trailer. He said to put it back under the barn, so he drove it down there. Well, truck and trailer got stuck in the mud, but thankfully the tractor was home so we hitched the tractor to the truck, and had to pull the truck and trailer all the way around the barn before backing the trailer back into its rightful place. At this point we were both soaked and tired so hubby took off to the store for some much needed alcohol!
I have to add really quick how awesome hubby is too. Yesterday he spent four hours in the rain while i was gone working on the property. He worked the dirt in the arena to allow for a better run off so hopefully it will be a bit more usable now, he made a moat on one side of the barn for roof runoff (as gutters arent installed yet), which allows for the water to run to the end of the property and not right into Milo's stall. And in Milo's stall he hand dug a little trench to continue to send the water out. He also spent some time clearing the blackberries away from the arena we will eventually have chickens and garden beds, and made more trenches on the road to keep the water run off from the house continuing to run out to the pasture and alleviate some of the water build up at the base of the road.
What a day!