you want me to cross what?

We finally made the anticipated trip up to Iron Horse for our second trail ride. With all the rain we’ve had, we weren’t sure we would be going anywhere but the indoor arena. I didn’t care, as long as we rode. It had been a whole week, but who’s counting…besides me.
We didn’t have enough riders to warrant taking two trailers, so keeping with our goal of seeing how Koda handled our trailer we loaded the boys, took them for a spin, and then unloaded them. You should have seen the look on their faces when they got out of the trailer and were back at Iron Horse lol. I’m happy to say Koda continues doing great. No time to waste, into the next trailer they went along with Sweetie. You may recall she went with us on our first trail ride. The six of us headed off to Ukarydee (also known as Castle Rock). It was a lot longer of a drive up then we expected, but well worth it. It rained most of the way and magically stopped shortly before we arrived. You gotta love it when that happens. All the way up I wondered what we were in store for. It’s one thing to ride in the rain at “home” where you can quit when you want to, yet another to be wet and cold out on a new trail. Of course we were the only ones riding in the park with the shifty weather, which actually was very serene. The wild flowers were in full bloom, what a variety! Bunnies and deer were scooting around. We were surrounded by quiet nature with pine plantations, open prairie areas, and oak forests. The trails were mostly sand, but as expected we ran into several muddy puddle areas. I quickly learned Koda doesn’t like crossing water/mud. Great.
This trail ride was a big step up from our previous ride for all three horses, and about as challenging as Patty suggests we get this season. I agree. We all switched around leading, following, riding in the middle – and yes, not wanting to go into the puddles. Thanks goodness Sweetie stepped up as the older puddle horse, or I’d still be there trying to get Koda to cross the water. Nemo had his puddle resisting moments too, but with Sweetie’s lead he crossed them all. Koda proved to be the real challenge. This seems to be a reoccurring theme. But what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?!

On my first attempt crossing a large puddle with Koda, I allowed him to walk on the edge vs right smack through the middle. It was about 6 feet to cross. I was feeling pretty good that I was successful in getting him to move forward. Of course I didn’t expect him to walk on the very edge, and then shy, which found my knee smacking against a tree. That felt more like pain then success. It only takes once to remind a person to not allow that to happened again! With that determination we made it across various other water puddles of different sizes shapes and lengths, much better - until they got larger. We got stuck on a larger puddle, about 10 feet to cross. That’s where we started the back-up “ I’m not going in there” routine. After many attempts to move him forward, Patty asked me to back him in. If he wants to back, then back him right in. So I did, and it worked – actually we turned around mid-puddle and walked forward through the rest. And then “dun-dun-duuuuun” (that’s the sounds of scary dooms-day stuff coming up) is it even safe to cross that HUGE no longer classifies as a puddle, ‘er body of water?? Six pairs of eyes got reeeal wide in a hurry. The river was behind us, in front of us looked to be an overflow flooded trail pass…so we decided it should be okay to cross. Our tall puddle horse went first. Even Sweetie didn’t like the feeling of the even gooshier edge, but mid-way she waded on through like she crossed bodies of water everyday. Nemo also eventually made it through with their help, however Koda and I didn’t. We got to the edge and out came the “you want me to cross what?”…I tried, and tried but Koda kept backing, jiggin’ and wiggling. I remembered an earlier arena ride when I tried to out stubborn Koda, this time when Patty offered to help – I accepted it right away. I knew by the way he was acting it was beyond me to get Koda across something that big. I could keep trying, but….between the slippery mud and tight area I just didn’t know how far I was willing to go. The only thing I hadn’t tried was dragging, I mean leading, Koda across. Wasn’t likely to work with the footing, depth, and his resistance combined. Not to mention I would have gotten sopping wet. So Patty and Sweetie came back across to help us, and we switched horses. Now, let me tell you what a difference that was. Sweetie has pent-up energy to spare, and has spent her life making her own decisions – and here we are together for the first time in a stressful situation. So we waded, checked out the path ahead, and stood still for 2 point 2 seconds before doing it all over again. She can’t stand still (Patty is re-training her). We would stand for a short while, but with nowhere to go, or even dismount, back across the water we went lol, several times. I felt better moving on her, then feeling her energy fuel while standing still. Besides, we needed Sweetie’s help to get Koda across.

I didn’t feel too bad about not getting him to cross. Patty had to get off Koda twice herself, and was having a lot of trouble too. It was a tough situation. He had stopped thinking and was about to get himself hurt. The water was around a bend, and there was such a small open path area that he couldn’t keep stepping back further and further. If he did, he would have hit a small decline that would have landed him into the real body of water behind us – a guaranteed disaster. How do you tell a horse that, when they aren’t thinking? Apparently he hadn’t noticed it, he was so focused on the water in front of him. She had to be kinda hard on him to get him to stop backing and reacting with random movement, that was anything but forward. She felt bad. We all did. But it could have gotten ugly. Koda needed to start using his brain so he didn’t get hurt, or hurt someone. Sweetie was calm (for her) as we stood in the scary body of water trying to give him reassurance the goopy mud wasn’t going to swallow him up. Patty doesn’t think Koda’s deal is a water depth thing, she thinks he doesn’t like the squishy feeling under his feet. Who knows. That over flow was about 30 feet to cross and forever long, not something you can go around. It was about 2 feet deep. Thankfully, Koda came to his senses and just plain ol’ gave in and plodded through the water for Patty – and every puddle thereafter.

We continued on the trail for a while before switching back to our original horses. Whew. Altho it was fun to be on a tall energetic horse for a while, I really don’t know Sweeties pent-up quirks and didn’t feel like flying today. I couldn’t believe how different the two horses felt underneath me. It was night and day. I was very happy to get back on my Koda! The rest of the ride was uneventful. We were all tired, and believe it or not relaxed. We had all experienced a beautiful ride with a high level of learning. We were very proud of our mounts, all of them. That was a challenging ride for our young horses.

I’d like to go back to Ukarydee, in dryer weather (surprise, surprise). Altho I hear the bugs get bad, but it must be absolutely gorgeous in the fall. Regardless, we’ll go back. In the interim, I’ll continue working on Koda crossing water!


Sherry Sikstrom said...

Sounds like it went well all things considered ,My old mare was a star crossing water , matter of fact she and I and my friend Deb , took a bout 10 horses across a creek a few years back , one at a time me leading and Deb bringing up the rear. I have ridden good horses like that, and scared dudes like Koda , you did the right thing. When they are young and scared the most inportant thing is to get them accross safely and without too much drama , from there they will eventually learn that you will keep them safe and to trust you enough to do what you ask. (Catana started out as a complete ninny on water crossings , but in the end was one of the best)BTW finally got your perize sent off to you today , sorry it took so long

Jeni said...

Water can be scary!!! Very Scary! for both riders and horses! I'm glad you guys got him across with out much drama.

I have a great story about water and Bonnie... Mini-me and I went trail riding with some friend. It was mini-me's first time trail riding so she rode Bonnie, and I rode one of my friends geldings, Clyde (Bonnie's half brother). It had rained pretty bad and what was normally a trickling stream was a river.

Our lead rider has one of those "do anything" type of horses so he decided to ride out and check depth. Not bad got as high as his geldings chest. Mini-me started out - and me not thinking at all didn't realize the height difference between Bonnie and the leaders gelding. Bonnie balked about mid way and I started yelling over the water noise at her to do EVERYTHING possible to keep that mare moving while I pushed Clyde in behind her.

Bonnie took one more step forward then started SWIMMING!!!!! across. Mini-me said she swam about 10 strides before she felt her hit ground. WOW !!!!

I praised and patted that little mare because all she wanted to do was protect my daughter in the high water. And Mini-me got lots of praise from all of us for keeping her cool and not panicking in what could have been a very bad situation.

We choose a different way back to the trailers so we wouldn't have to cross that stream again.

Anonymous said...

I did a lot of backing through water with Maisie until she learned to cross it at the Mark Rashid clinic (or I should say until I figured out how to help her learn to cross it) - before that she would go to any lengths, including rearing, to avoid putting a foot in water.

Good riding!

Terri said...

Great job!!!! Maggie doesn't mind water now, but she used to! I remember those 'learning times.' She still wants to freak out when it comes to boggy land. I think she thinks the earth is giving way. Take heart, she now loves deep water crossings! Swimming horseback is so much fun!

aurora said...

Fern, we wished we had a lead rope with us. We would have tried ponying Koda, with Sweetie. She is 6 and has seen more then our two, but training wise she isn't any further ahead and in some ways behind. Not sure it would have worked anyways. Your Catana sounds like a special horse, I'm glad you have many fond memories of her. Looking forward to the fun mail!

Jeni, thanks for sharing your water story, it is a great one! I can't wait to try swimming with a horse buddy. We had a couple chances with our CO friends, but something always conflicts. One of these days...we'll be doing the horse-paddle too!

Kate, I remember reading about your backing Maisie into water when we were on the trail. It's an odd feeling, but effective in those situations. Koda is a smart boy, I think he'll figure it out eventually.

Terri, I never thought about the mushy footing until it became very obvious on that ride. I'm hopeful Koda will learn to love deep water crossings too!