Sunday, July 31, 2011

A Nice Ride, and Some Thoughts on Fear

 Kate and I joined 12 other riders from the Kittitas Valley Trail Riders for a ride out of the Lower Elk Heights trailhead, to an overlook of the Taneum Valley.  She was pretty good most of the time...

 In the half hour or so that Pat and I waited last Monday, to see if the rain would quit (it didn't), Kate had done a bunch of flirting with Pat's boys, Rambler and Chief.  There was much squealing and tail lifting and squirting.  I commented at the time that, because the girls don't pay much mind to RT, I seldom notice when they are in heat.  (In the past, when either Kate or Maddie have had a naughty day, someone will often ask "Is she in heat?" to which I usually answer "I don't know.  I guess that could be the problem.")
On Tuesday's ride with Rambler, Kate was good as gold, and I didn't think much of it.  Of course, she only had Rambler to focus on.
Yesterday, as soon as Pat loaded Chief in the trailer, Kate started carrying on again!  When we started out up the hill, Pat was towards the back and Kate and I were in the middle of the group.  But the first time we stopped for a breather, Kate suddenly HAD to find her boyfriend, and didn't want to continue up the hill without him.  That was okay, as long as we were on a trail that allowed us to ride side-by-side. 
When we had to go single file, Kate wouldn't walk in front of Chief ("I can't see him!"), but behind him, she kept pestering him, and he got a bit balky.
After our rest stop at the overlook, I made a point of putting Kate up with the leaders.  As long as she wasn't in the very front, with no one to follow, she was okay with this, keeping up well, and with a good attitude.  Every time we stopped, she looked back to make sure Chief was still with us, but didn't insist on being with him.
Back at the trailers, Kate started calling and looking for Chief.  When Pat tied him up next to her, however, she got really nasty, squealing, and threatening to kick.  So we moved him to the other side of the trailer, which just made Kate MAD!  She stomped, she called, she paced as far as her leadrope would let her.  Eventually she settled down, as we sat nearby eating our lunches.  At loading, Kate was worried Chief wasn't coming along, but once both were loaded she behaved herself.  Surprisingly, she we dropped Pat off at her place, Kate did not carry on about losing her lover, and traveled well the rest of the way home.

There was one other unnerving incident during the ride, that Kate handled fine--I was the one that got shook.
A gal behind us was riding a fairly green horse, and when she took a drink out of her water bottle, he spooked at the sloshing ice in the bottle.  He took off, and I definitely heard several seconds of thundering hooves, before Kate turned slightly and I saw the woman bail out and the horse take off into the woods.  Kate scrambled a little as he went by, but as soon as she stopped, I climbed down, as did several other folks, either to keep their horse calmer, or to aid the woman who had gotten dumped.
The horse was soon caught, and we started back down the trail.  The woman chose to walk the rest of the way down, and I was hesitant to get back on, even though Kate seemed fine, so I walked with her for a bit.  But these feet were not made for walking (I tell folks that's why I took up riding) and after a half-mile or so, I climbed back on.  Kate was steady and responsive, but I continued to have butterflies all the way back.

Even though it was not Kate who got spooked, I spent the whole ride back debating whether or not I should even take her to next week's trail competition.  In spite of how pleased I was with her behavior and skill level on Tuesday's ride, I was back to thoughts of selling the whole bunch and retiring to a cozy cabin on the beach--With no horses, we could actually afford it!
Fear has been the theme of numerous blogs lately, as well as several magazine articles.  Especially for those of us who are getting older, and already facing various other health issues, the fear of getting hurt raises huge road blocks to our enjoyment of our equine pursuits.  And I am not one of those women who returned to riding after a long hiatus of raising a family/pursuing a career:  I have ridden pretty much continuously for the last fifty years, including training and competition.
I'm not sure how I would handle not having horses in my life, but I've got to figure out how to get past this nagging feeling of dread whenever I ride, or it's not the relaxing escape that I ride to experience.


  1. I find myself thinking about getting hurt sometimes as well. Amazingly I used to gallop up to 5' fences and never give it a second thought. Now a 3' course looks big most of the time. Now that I ride so sporadically, and on two green horses, I find some fear issues coming up more frequently. I don't know if riding more regularly would quell these issues or not.

    I have so little time to ride these days I've flirted with the idea of selling my two non-retired horses. They are both young and fancy and I'm just killing their value having them stand around in the pasture (although they quite happy with the arrangement!). But then I wonder if I would even feel like myself if I didnt' have a horse to ride - whether or not I actually rode it.

  2. Hahaha, I have the same excuse for not walking my horse more. I say I bought a horse because I'm too lazy to walk! Back when I rode in cowboy boots I did say "these boots aren't made for walking."

    I have no idea why I get scared or not scared. I know that green Arab was on the verge of bucking, and I don't have a clue why I wasn't terrified of her. If I ever get any insights I'll let you know. :-/

  3. I know that feeling of fear - not in regards to riding (though it is one of the things that prevents me from LEARNING to ride in my sixties!), but hiking. I used to be an avid backpacker/hiker, but since sustaining horrific injuries to my back/pelvis in a car crash, I'm very scared of falling. Even the slightest downward grade gives me huge butterflies.
    Maybe that's why I sold my backpacking stuff and now live in a cabin on the beach (well, a small house near the beach!).

  4. Hi EvenSong,
    A "nagging feeling of fear" is something that I have felt too. I called it "butterflies in my stomach" when I was a kid. I have no words of wisdom for you except that facing it and coming out just fine at the end feels pretty good. Maybe, changes are due when the fear takes up more energy than the fun? Whatever you decide, the post was thought-provoking and that has to be good:) Beautiful countryside too and the photo of Kate is gorgeous!

  5. Gorgeous countryside. Sounds to me like Kate is very steady and reliable. She's so pretty too. But then I love paints, I think they are one of the smartest horses around.

    As for the fear, we all get it sometimes. I think it comes from knowing we can get hurt and we won't bounce back as quickly as we once did. I'm always concerned that if I do fall off I'll mangle my knee replacement and have to do it all over again. But then I remember that the reason I went through the surgery was so that I could ride again without pain. I try to keep myself to safer situations by riding mostly in arenas. We occasionally will go out for a mosey around the property, for my confidence building. Right now I'm working on getting into really good shape by dieting, exercising and stretching with a little weight lifting thrown in. I figure if I'm in pretty good shape for my age and try to be more agile I should be able to deal with any situation that comes up. Hopefully. I also think that being a horse-person I couldn't be happy without horses in my life, so when I'm unable to ride anymore they'll still be around me.