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July 2, 2012: Raudi, Front and Center

Today Raudi established herself as a contender for the position of number one riding horse in the Squalor Holler Stable. This morning, during breakfast, I proposed to Pete that we do what we call the Grizzly Camp Loop Ride, saying that it probably was passable. I pointed out that it had not rained lately, so the trail would be dry, and added that if it does rain, that the trail will be wet. My logic, notwithstanding, Pete agreed to do the ride earlier rather than later.

Out of habit, and because he’s now here, I considered taking Tinni. Then I recalled that we’re getting Raudi and Siggi ready for the upcoming competitive trail ride. So, Pete and I saddled up both horses, with me telling Mr. T that I’d take him out later.

As expected, the lower portion of the trail was a mess. The ATvers had pretty much trashed it.

In their wake, they made side trails, which were fairly safe. I did as I’ve done for some time, and let Raudi figure out where to go when we came to the questionable parts. She’s very good at this. She’s a bit impatient, and when Siggi hesitates, she often barges on ahead of him. I never, ever force her to go through bogs. Once again she did just fine.

I let Raudi stop and sniff some fresh brown bear shit that happened to be on the trail, and we next saw its tracks.

We next came to some downhill sections. Again, we had to work on going down the slippery stuff slowly, going back when she rushed them, or refused to whoa. Then there was the bridge crossing. Raudi attempted to push her way past Siggi, who was taking his time, most likely considering the makeup of planking. This was a dangerous move on Raudi’s part because the bridge was narrow and lacking sides.

Pete and I ate lunch, and after, I suggested that take both horses back across the bridge, and have them again walk across. This time, they did it right, both moving nicely, in single file.

Raudi did a nice, long sustained trot on the mile-long, homeward, Murphy Road Trail.

At the ride’s end, Pete went home and I elected to lengthen the ride, by taking a few side trails. This culminated with my bushwacking through some brush, in an attempt to get at a longer trail. It was then that it happened. All the sudden Raudi’s rear leg jerked backwards. I stopped her, looked down, and saw that her rear leg was in the air. A knot formed in my stomach because I thought she’d broken it.

I leapt off her back and looked more closely at the leg. I then noticed that a garden hose was wrapped around her pastern. I asked her to back, and she did. I asked her to lift her rear leg and she did. I asked her to hold still while I removed the hose, and she did. I walked her out to the road which was quite close, and again asked her to give me her leg, which she did. Thank dog, her leg was just fine.

I was too shook up to ride, so we walked home. Last year, I’d presumed that by our trip’s end, that Raudi would be a well-trained trail horse. Today, I realized that this isn’t so. We’re (quite obviously) still working on things, such as walking down hills in a collected fashion, maintaining an even pace when behind other horses, and standing still when I get on and off her.

This is all very important stuff. And I’m enjoying working with her. I jokingly call it Alys’s tough love program because for the first time in our checkered career, I’m the one in charge. She can pick her way on questionable trails, but only when I let her. Maybe, just maybe, this more ongoing work that we’re doing is strengthening our bond. I feel like I had evidence of this today. Raudi, garden hose on leg, was in trouble. Both she and I knew this. But she remained calm as I attempted to tend to the problem.

I sometimes wonder if all the hard work that horse training entails is worth it. Admittedly, it requires a single minded intensity of focus that at times is more tiring than not. I mean, I ask, what’s in it for me or for the horse? Today I found myself wondering why this question even comes to mind. Indeed, I am the luckiest horse owner on the face of the earth.

Postscript: I later took Tinni for a ride, ponying Signy, and having Hrimmi follow. We got home, and I let these horses graze. Tonight, after I finished turning compost, I noticed that Tinni, of his own volition, had walked into his pen, and was waiting for me to feed him. I then retrieved Signy. Little horse imitates big horse. I put the halter on Hrimmi, who willingly followed her dam into her pen. I repeat, I am the luckiest horse owner on the face of this earth.

Next: 208. 07/4/12: Curb sitting, 101