Monday, February 21, 2011

Windy Weather Rides!

We had gale force winds here on Saturday, February 19th, steady winds all day, with gusts that seemed they would pull all of the trees from the woods! It was sunny and a pleasant temperature, but the buffeting winds dominated the weather.

I went up to Buckshot’s pasture to see him. He was trying to eat hay, but the winds were blowing it out from under him. He walked a few feet forward, trying to get the hay, take a bite and then the rest blew away from him. Again, he walked forward, patiently following the fleeing hay. I ran ahead, scooped up some hay, brought it back to him and put it under his mouth. He took a bite but quickly changed his mind about eating hay. He didn’t know that hay could run away from him!

Looking around his pasture, I noticed several of the trees down. I immediately started walking in their direction, and Buckshot followed at my shoulder. I could almost hear his excitement to tell me: oh, yes, come see the trees, the trees are down, we’ve had such excitement in the pasture this week, the trees are down, come see them! It turns out the BOH had taken down two trees to make more room for grass; they lay on the ground on Saturday and looked very funny. Buckshot wanted to give me a tour of his new pasture digs! Such a chatty horse!

We tacked up, and headed out to the main arena. I couldn’t believe how windy it was, and my dear, special horse never once spooked! I have to give him credit, because I was spooking- oh, my, what a gust, oh dear, that’s strong, uh oh, what a big gust that is! I was more nervous than he was! He trotted and cantered nicely through it all – what a great horse! Later, all the school horses in our class handled the wind just fine, but when the instructor told us to dismount, I felt a sigh of relief!

I've decided to work with Buckshot on opening a gate from the saddle. So, following instructions I found in a magazine, Buckshot and I started our new goal on Sunday. It was much less windy on Sunday, but cool and partly cloudy. When I got Buckshot into the arena, I explained to him what we were going to do, to work on the various elements of gate opening, from the ground, before we put them together under saddle. The first step is to lead him up to the gate, stop facing the gate for a moment and then walk away. We did it three times, with Buckshot being very cooperative and standing in front of the gate quietly. He did seem to wonder what in the dickens we were doing?? But he liked getting a “good boy” and a treat after each effort. I told him he got an “A” in his very first gate-opening lesson! The next thing I have to work on is getting him to do a side pass while under saddle. That will probably be a lot harder than lesson one. LOL!

On Sunday, we also rode on the trail, rode in the field arena and had a wonderful time. We did a lot of trotting and a fair amount of cantering. He really has a lot of “try” for a horse, always willing to respond to my aids.

I created a new exercise as well. Earlier, in the main arena, I had left the gate open for other riders. After Buckshot and I had ridden a bit, I wanted to give him a break, so I lengthened the reins and stopped steering, and let Buckshot go wherever he wanted to. Well, you can guess where he wanted to go! He always ambles in one and only one direction: to the gate! Since I didn’t want him to ride out of the gate (and probably back to his stall where he would ask to be untacked!), I steered him gently away from the gate as he got close to it. I decided to use his gate-focus to good advantage: I walked him in a circle partway around, then released the reins and let him move to the gate, then I gently steered him back the other way, in a half circle and released the reins. We were doing figure eights with the gate helping us! He did very well at this for a few minutes, then I gathered the reins and asked him to go back to work!

Overall, we had a wonderful weekend with two rides in which we worked on some trotting and cantering as well as some patterns. He had a lot of good energy and seemed to enjoy it! Hope you had a good weekend- now I’m going to go read my favorite blogs and see what everyone is up to!


Carol said...

What a brave boy you had, to be calm in all that wind. I know what you mean about being more nervous than my horse - I'm always vervous when there's snow coming off the roof of the indoor, but Rogo is fine. It's a wonder I don't make him nervous.
It's so cute that he wanted to show you the downed trees :)
Glad you had such a great riding weekend despite the wind. Good luck with the gate opening training. I'll be looking forward to updates.

Grey Horse Matters said...

Buckshot is a great horse. I don't know that many horses who are so calm with windy conditions. Funny I did a post on the wind we had today too.

Glad you had such fun with your rides and are learning to work the gate. The figure eights sound like a good training lesson.

juliette said...

We had that crazy wind too! I wish I had your sweet sensible Buckshot. He is the best horse.

I would like to teach my boys to sidepass near the gate, but our gate is attached to the electric fence. I turn the electric off to ride, but they are still scared of it (understandably). I have to use a crop and reach out to open the gate if I want to do that and I never carry a crop!

Sounds like Buckshot is getting the idea of gates (and treats at gates!) and will be a good student for the next step.

Dom said...

Yeah, the wind was nuts. The picture of Buckshot chasing his hay around is so sad and funny at the same time.