Weekend Goals Recap
Taking a week off to teach at a local 4-H Camp did wonders for my soul, but really took a toll on the progress Jean-Luc and I had made. However, thanks to a few positive suggestions from friends, I was able to make a few minor goals and refocus our work:
Saturday: My Dad met me at the barn and we went to get Jean-Luc. He was in the pasture across the creek. Though he didn’t really want to come to me, he was still a pretty easy catch.
Walking away from the herd he began neighing and screaming out to his friends. It was loud, really loud! I could tell he was energetic and I wanted to lunge him some right there—so I did. This proved ineffective.
I knew I needed to get him to round pen. That would work this energy out. The round pen did something, that was for sure. Once in the pen and moving he actually galloped. I can’t lie, this was a little embarrassing since I really wanted to show my dad how well we were doing. This didn’t look good, it looked like I just stepped into a round pen with a mustang!
[Only afterwards did I notice Jean-Luc had a shoe that had come lose. This was pretty bad on multiple levels and I never would have worked him I known the shoe was lose. Luckily, a farrier made it out almost immediately to fix his feet.]
Dad watched from the outside and didn’t say much. He let me work and explain catching Jean-Luc’s eye, and why I made his feet move when he started craning his neck over the pen to look for his friends.
I worked on turning Jean-Luc for no less than forty-five minutes. Though things started pretty rough, he finally became level headed and calm. Once he would sync up and follow me no matter which direction I went, I brought him over to the barn for a bath.
Dad and I had fun washing Jean-Luc and watching him play with the hose. He really likes to stick his nostrils in it. I don’t really get it. I kind of think it seems like he’s water boarding himself, but hey, what do I know?
Overall, I wasn’t the happiest with how Saturday went, but it did end well – so I’ll chalk that up to a win. This was also the day that Dolly called me to see if I wanted to join her on a trail ride for the 4th of July. I was on cloud nine!
Sunday: Sunday went much better. For starters, the herd was closer to the gate that the day before. I did not have to walk across the creek, and I was thankful. Also, my husband decided to come out with me. His knowledge of horses is very limited, however, he’s incredibly supportive.
This day I took a lunge line with me into the field. If things got hairy, I wanted to be ready to work it out right there.
I had decided to take my time today. Again, though I counted the previous day as a win, I I knew it could go more smoothly. Jean-Luc made me walk up until I was about 5 feet away from him, then he slowly, step by step, came over to us. He stood with my husband and me quietly while I tied his rope halter. I tried breathing in his nose, because some people say that’s one way horses communicate. He didn’t seem to mind it, and though I am on the fence as to wether or not breathing in horses noses actually has any true affect, Jean-Luc did remain calm the rest of time together.
We took a few steps towards the barn, but on this day, anytime he started to breathe heavily as if he were nervous, I would stop and pet him until he calmed down. It was extremely slow going, but we eventually made it to the top of the hill.
At the top of the hill, before I took Jean-Luc out of the field, I lunged him in a small circle. My husband enjoyed telling us when to change directions and it kept me on my feet. I could tell he was somewhat impressed by the progress we had made since he last saw us.
After about ten minutes we took Jean-Luc outside of the fence and to the barn. He stood quite calm while we brushed and loved on him. I could not believe the difference in the day. Yesterday, Jean-Luc would have given the wildest of mustangs a run for their money, and now – a perfect gentleman.
I took him inside the barn to do some more groundwork while my husband cleaned up the place (clearly, he was bore). It meant a lot that the husband came, though. Horses aren’t really his thing, so to see him be supportive and impressed was nice for me.
The rest of the day was relatively uneventful. Eventually, my husband had enough cleaning and wanted to try his hand at lunging. I handed over the line telling him that if he started to confuse my horse, I was taking him back.
There’s strange sense of pride that occurs when someone watching you do something, thinks it’s easy, tries, and realizes you are just making it look easy. This was exactly what happened with the husband. He tried to get Jean-Luc to walk out but it was a mess and I shortly took back over for fear of leaving my horse with a confused lesson.
That was Sunday – positive, easy, and moving back in the direction of progress.
Tuesday: I visited with Jean-Luc after work on Monday, but we really didn’t do enough to talk about. However, Tuesday finally arrived and I was so excited to go on a three-hour trail ride with Dolly! She wanted to meet around noon, so naturally I was up at about 6 AM getting ready, only it was raining.
All morning long my stomach was in knots waiting to hear if Dolly would call off the ride. At about 10:30 AM she finally called and asked if I still wanted to go?
“Absolutely!” I shouted into my phone with the excitement of a first-grader. “I mean, yes. If you would still like to, I don’t mind getting a little wet…”
“I am in,” Dolly replied.
We discussed how we were both excited to be going on a ride and how neither of us were made of sugar, so we would not melt if the rain continued. I like Dolly a lot. She is oozes southern charm, class, and is equally one tough woman – a combination sometimes hard to find. She absolutely is not some old, helpless woman.
It was time for me to kiss the husband goodbye and get out to the barn. I had prepacked homemade stir-fry toccatas for us for the trail and several other snacks. Sadly, in all my excitement I forgot to look where I was going while backing up my car. Apparently, the husband’s friend had left his vehicle in our driveway from an adventure the night before. I had not seen it when I swung my usual wide turn, and took out the back passenger door and fender on his tiny little Ford Escape.
“No!” I screamed in my car. It is no secret that I’m not the best driver. I wreck something at least once every few years. Sadly, this does not help women drivers, and to all of you, my apologies for perpetuating the stereotype.
I got out of the car, made a rather dramatic deal about things, and went inside to tell my husband. He was very understanding. Together we called the insurance company, and after calming me down, he sent me on my way to enjoy my ride.
[Also, the new Jeep Cherokees are tanks. Nothing, I repeat, nothing, was wrong with my car.]
On the way to the barn I called Dolly to ask if I could have an extra fifteen minutes to get ready. She didn’t mind at all and said she would see me soon.
Jean-Luc was an easy catch again, and I brought him in to clean him up and load his tack loosely on him. I had to meet Dolly at the top of my BM’s road which is about 100 feet or so from the barn. The saddle I am currently riding weighs no less than 40 pounds. Add to that Jean-Luc’s breast collar, bridle, and small cantle bag and, well he was going to have to help carry some things.
Thankfully, carrying a few things and unloading them in the middle of a back road onto Dolly’s trailer was no big deal for him. It was all new to me, and I had no idea how he would react, but like the true gentleman I know him to be, he just stood there. I was amazed. (To be clear, we were in no real danger of being hit, because there was a large pull off area and we could be seen easily. Dolly’s rig is also electric yellow. It’s kind of genius.)
After unloading Jean-Luc, the next task was to load him in a slant trailer. I have not trailered him since he came to the barn. I had no clue if he would even get on. Dolly took the lead rope from my hands and walked Jean-Luc onto the trail like it was old hat. I stood there amazed. She didn’t have to load my horse, but it seemed instinctual for her to just “do it herself.”
“Okay, you ready,” she asked.
I stood there in shock. I had to take all this in. I mean, lady, do you know how easy that just was? Seriously, if there were a video on what loading a trailer in record time should look like, we just exemplified it!
“See you up front,” she said.
I snapped back to reality, and quickly ran up to the passenger side door. After hopeng in, we drove a short ten minutes to park at a local dirt race track. Parking there was a great idea. There’s plenty of room and the lot connected directly with the rail-trail we intended to ride that day.
Unloading was just as easy as loading, and we quickly tacked up. She brought her beautiful quarter horse, Red, out and we made idle chit chat about saddles, and tack. This was my first time with Dolly, and I can actually be a little awkward (talk too much) in situations like this. Luckily conversation with Dolly flowed easily.
Before I knew it, we were ready to go. Jean-Luc and me, and Dolly and Red, took off at the most leisurely pace. Jean-Luc was a little excited, however, he’d never been to this place or seen anything he was seeing. At some points, he really wanted to turn around and head back to the trailer, but never fought too hard.
Most amazing of all though, my big Tennessee Walker kept a great pace with a slow Quarter Horse. Dolly and I were able to talk side-by-side as our horses just plodded along. This may sound boring for some, but chatting in the mountains while taking in some of the most gorgeous scenery in the continental United States from horseback is my heaven. It is what I want to do with my horse. The fact that I was actually do it was amazing!
We rode for hours, and hours that way. Sure, there were little hiccups, but nothing too terrible. After 3 hours Dolly finally started hinting at turning around. She said she had be waiting for me to say when I wanted to turn, and I admitted to doing the same because I didn’t want to look like a wimp turning around too early.
We laughed, and I was getting sore. Sadly, turning around meant we had at least two and half hours back. The ride home went well for everyone but my tushie, as you might remember from an earlier post this week.
Jean-Luc only spooked at two things the entire ride. First, a turkey flew out of a tree from ten feet away and terrified all four of us. We just didn’t see it, until it was too late. Second, we passed several seemingly feral German Shepherds tied to chains near the trail. This one is likely on me. I’m scared of these beasts even thinking of them now. You see, on a hillside near the trail, an owner had chained up no less than three full size GSD’s that would bark and bite at anything strolling by. I psyched myself out thinking of what would happen if they slipped their collar. Jean-Luc walked by them fine on the way down, but my nerves nearly left me on the floor when I jumped in the saddle upon seeing the whites of their snarling teeth. God bless Dolly and the bomb proof Red, though. She got between Jean-Luc and the dogs and we walked right through.
In the end, our ride lasted from about 1 PM – 6:30 PM. It was a long day. When we returned to the trailer, Dolly’s husband met us. He had started to wonder where we even were considering we said we’d only be gone three hours. We quickly untacked, and headed for home. I could not stop smiling. As rough as I felt, I had just completed a six-hour ride on my horse. Word’s will never describe what that accomplishment feels like.
I am so thankful to Dolly and to be able to get that ride in before our three-day trail ride next week. Admittedly, I’m worried my body might not hold up on the ride, but at least I have a better idea of what I can expect from Jean-Luc. It won’t be perfect, but it is not outside of the of scope of things we can handle. This weekend I am going to continue preparing for our ride in small ways, but choosing to focus on bonding with Jean-Luc has made all the difference.
Do you have any suggestions for a three-day camp trip? What are your “must have” comforts on the trail? What are some things you wish you’d know prior to your ride?
My name is Chelsey.
Generator's Cuevo Gold, or as he's known around this barn, "Jean-Luc Ponycard", was foaled in 2004 from Generator's Hurricane & Cheyenne's Little Bit.