Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Growing up at Grandma's farm

Weather here has been atrociously hot, hovering around 100F. for almost a week now. My 12-year-old grandson Mike is visiting for a couple of weeks before he goes off to "TeePee Camp" up the Manastash Canyon. I told him he was here to provide "cheap labor" but it's been too dang hot to ask him to do much, since I have to direct/help him. But he and I have gotten out for a few hours each morning and gotten some projects going, not the least of which is replacing the horse trailer floor.
His payment: riding time.
Mike has been on horses since he was a baby....unfortunately only for a few hours a year, when he visits! Most of his lessons have been on Misty. Here I led him for an outing, with Maddie in tow, so it was 2005 and he was 8.
This was the first summer he rode at all independently, and then only in the round pen.
By 2007 the two of them were accepting challenges from Grandma, and really making some progress.
Then last year, Misty was not only preggers, but had started showing some navicular-like symptoms. So we gave little RT a try. I told Mike that, if Misty was a comfortable '57 Chevy, then RT was a Ferrari, speedy and fast cornering! They did okay, though I think Mike was a little intimidated.
[Please note that Grandma did get him boots with heels last year--Unfortunately, he's completely outgrown them this year.]
So who to put him on this year? Misty's got Jackson at her side. Mike's grown a foot since he was here in 2008, and was almost too big for RT last year, so I don't think that's a good option. (Mike at twelve and a half has now not only passed me in height, but Grandpa Allan as well--and his feet are bigger than Al's too!)
Is he ready for Kate?
Is Kate ready for Mike?
They've known each other plenty long enough. (Did he ever take that shirt off the week he was here that year?)
Monday, I took the camera out to the barn to document the "first ride"...Got this "gettin' ready" photo, then forgot the camera in the barn. But that first day we started in the round pen. Mostly walking and a little bit of jogging--Mike's balance has improved a bunch! Then out to the arena for some circles and figure-eights around the barrels for practicing control--this didn't go as well. Kate was being a poop, and totally ignoring Mike. We upgraded from the bosal to the snaffle, and that helped some.
Yesterday, by the time we worked on the trailer floor for an hour or so, it was too dang hot to do anything with the horses. So I promised Mike we would ride first today.
Warming up in the round pen, Kate tried every trick in the book to avoid the bit and buffalo Mike into thinking she was in charge. But he didn't get too frustrated, just kept at it until she responded. I pointed out to him that once he started riding like an equestrian, instead of just sitting in his easy chair, she responded more appropriately.

In the meantime, I got Maddie saddled up. She helped me supervise. This picture is the one that shows the best example of Mike riding.
Close-up: Soft hands, looking where he's going. Look at those heels! And check out Kate's response.
We headed down the driveway (past the neighboring cows) and up the road, with Maddie leading. But when we went to turn down the canal path, Maddie wasn't sure about the water flowing over the little dam that feeds our irrigation system. So I had Mike bring Kate around to take the lead. Funny how I can let the green rider on the green horse be the "seasoned trail horse" for my even greener horse!
At the top of the south pasture.

Here's Mike convincing Kate that she really can go the long way around the house, even though Maddie and I took the short-cut through the back yard (to drop the camera off at the porch).
All in all, it was a good first "trail ride" even though it probably wasn't much more than half a mile. I didn't want to do much more, because on Maddie, I couldn't have helped Mike out too well if he had had any trouble. When friend Pat gets back from a week at the beach (good timing Pat!) maybe we can all head for the hills.
For all her lazy poopiness, Kate is a gem.


  1. They both look great - she's growing into a lovely horse and he looks like he might make a good rider!

  2. Looks like Mike and Kate had fun together. Heels down, looking where he's going, soft hands.. Mike has been well taught:)

  3. Sigh........the boots are sitting in the dining room, his aqua socks are in his room where he left them........And he and Kate look great.