February 24, 2014
I woke up Sunday, feeling good, stated doing some much needed housework, and then slipped outside to tend to the chickens. Opps, shouldn’t have done that. It was so dang nice out it put Saturday’s luxurious weather to shame. I raced back in the house, cleaning completely forgotten, and started to pull on some breeches.
My husband kindly reminded me I had just spent the previous day trail riding, and the house really needed a clean. I agreed while hoping around on one foot trying to pull a sock on, and insisted that I needed the exercise, and the house would wait until it was cold during the week. He rolled his eyes, knowing the battle was lost, and I raced out the door to hook the trailer up.
I decided that this day was going to be Poe’s first solo trail ride. I had taken him out two times with Rich riding Simon, in which Poe was only mildly entertained by this, trail-riding-activity, and he had not been ridden in nearly two weeks. Sounded like a winning combo to me! So I tacked him up and popped him in the trailer. The dogs hopped in the truck, and away we went.
I decided to go to my quick-and-easy spot, Cub Run at Runkles Gap. Its only about 15 minutes from the house, parking is easy, and I can just mount up and hit the main fire road, that I know about as well as driving up my own driveway. Easy peasy.
We arrived and I unloaded Poe. He was a little snorty and wide eyed, as expected. I tightened my girth and hopped on and off we went. Poe, the pony who is afraid of nothing, continued to be wide eyed and moved with extreme hesitation, eyeballing the evil rocks and trees on either side of the fire road. I assume it was mostly acting on his part, but I was still encouraging and allowed him time to settle in.
We continued up the road and he did seem to relax. Then he pulled one of his “pony stunts”. He dropped his shoulder and neck, and spun, in an attempt to turn for home. Of course I was prepared and did not allow this action to do more than swerve our path a little. A few minutes later, back to calm pony, walking along on his Sunday stroll, he put way too much effort into a huge buck and shoulder drop, into an attempted spin for home. Again, I was prepared, and onward we continued. Back to quietly walking, like everything is cheery, and he leapt into the air, landing in a buck, and again, droeds his shoulder into a spin. And way to go me, again, I corrected him before the spin was fully underway, and forward motion was resumed. After those pony stunts he burst out with a loud whinny, and then settled into the ride once again.
We are talking about a smart pony here folks. He embraces the comic, Thelwell pony theatrics and I can only imagine the confidence of young riders being cracked when I look into his devilish eyes. Smart and easily bored, this pony keeps me on my toes. And he is shifty too. He will fain contentment, and hope his rider is caught off guard when he pulls a stunt. “la la, walk walk walk, yeah, go ahead, put me on a loose rein, what a good pony I am being. la la,” then BAM, the rider is sitting on the ground and Poe is standing near by, grazing, keeping one eerie-appy-eye on his mark.
That is his MO, and so far, he has learned that stunts do not work with me. And generally, he is smart enough to save his energy. I also truly believe he enjoys his job, enjoys attention, and as long as I keep switching up our exercise, he is rather pleased to play along.
Knowing him, I stayed on my toes as we continued along, seemingly content with him telepathically sending me ”la la la” messages. Which is good, because from la la la, at a leisurely trot, came dead stop and refusal to move forward. Poe drew an imaginary line in the road, and was not going forward. No way, no sir, not one of his hooves was going to cross that unseen mark. I gave a very gentle, tap tap behind my leg with the dressage whip I was carrying, and received no response. Legs engaged, I gave a light but firm tap tap. Which resulted in two strong bucks, with the front feet still expertly planted. Again, legs engaged, a firm tap tap, and his ears pinned flat, I swear some smoke started to trickle out of his nose, and he did a little rear into a buck. Game on. I gave up on the whip as he went into an all out pony stunt machine, punching out athletic combos left and right, buck, spin, should drop, leap, rear, reverse spin, back up, dive to the side, all switched around into a near choreographed acrobatic display. I maintained my seat expertly; actually, I was really impressed with how little I was jostled, so, go me!
This whole ordeal of ridiculousness went on for a good while, then it started to get a little less comical and a little closer to scary. I was sticking with the strategy of letting him wear himself out, so I had not done much other than not allow him to run toward the trailer, he started to do this particular combo that consisted of; back back back, rear, drop to the side, back back back, rear, drop the other side. He stumbled a little on the second drop to the side, and was nearing a slight drop at the edge of the fire road, which shot this thought through my head. He is going to stumble, and either A. unseat me and run back to the trailer leaving me to walk the one and a half miles back, and then have to get back on and ride the snot out of him. or B. he is going to stumble, fall on me, and leave me here hurt, one and a half miles from the truck, through two locked park gates, hoping I can reach my phone in my pocket and call forest service to come retrieve me, while he is running loose.
Neither A nor B sounded appealing, and not wanting to get my confidence shaken, I got him moving forward a few steps, and I jumped off. Then I immediately turned and whacked him across the rear with the dressage whip. I never hit my horses and I almost never carry a whip when I ride. But I am glad I was smart enough to bring it with me on this ride ‘just incase’. Poe’s eyes bugged out of his head, and he stopped. I turned, and started walking and he got in line and marched along with me. I walked past the now, clearly marked by hoof prints, line in the road Poe had drawn, and about fifteen feet farther on, I stopped at a large rock. I parked Poe next to it, climbed onto the rock and prepared to mount. Taking note he was shaking and keeping one of his devil appy eyes on me. I mounted up, while he stood like his hooves were cemented to the ground. I asked for a walk, and forward we went, him marching like a perfect gentleman.
We walked for about five minutes, and then trotted for about ten. He trucked along with out breaking stride or looking at anything but straight ahead. We walked for another few minutes and then we stopped, he got a cookie and some good boys, and we turned for home.
On the ride back he was perfect, although I was sure to throw in a few stop and stands along the way, and we finished with a lengthy walk.
So I mark that up as Krista 1, Poe 0.