Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Bear in the Woods

Out for a hack Sunday morning. Beautiful scenery. 
Last week I spent my time packing Mikey's stuff up and reorganizing his medical supplies and my trailer tackroom. Why? On Friday I helped move a barnful of horses (20) and their buckets, feed, hay, and assorted other stuff to a different barn. My trainer moved her operation back to her family's farm, (where we had spent almost 2 years at previously) after her lease to buy contract fell through on the farm she had relocated to last December.

Not much to say on it except Mikey has moved back to his favorite place ever. He loves that farm. The only downside of the farm is a lack of indoor arena, and an outdoor that doesn't have true riding footing. It's a mix of clay and sand that can be quite mucky or exceptionally hard depending on the rain/sun. It has over 130 acres of trails and field. Plenty to ride on if it's rainy, just gotta be willing to change your plan.

The plan is to build a 70' by 120' indoor by winter, so I'm hopeful for somewhere to ride this winter!

After we got all the horses moved and went to lunch, one of the working students and I went for a road walk. If you walk to the end of the road and back, it's about 4 miles.

So Mikey and I are leading, and we're going downhill to a hairpin turn to the left that goes up and wraps around the next hill. I hear something crash out of the woods, down by the turn, and I figure it's probably a deer. Nope. It's a black bear.

First thought is, "Stop!"

Next thought is "Oh shit."

It wasn't just a bear, it was a momma bear with her two cubs.

I stopped Mikey as soon as I saw the bear, then turned him to walk away after I saw the cubs. No running I figured, we're large, so just walk. Well I had said "Oh shit" and that cued the girl I was riding with to turn around and trot/canter away! I was like "Wait! Stop! Just walk away."

The bear turned immediately and went back into the woods, but we weren't keen on continuing our road walk and possibly seeing the bears again. We went up to the outdoor and trotted around for a few minutes, during which I found Mikey wasn't dealing well in his hind end with the road and hill work. He had a consistent lameness behind that was almost a stiffness.

I told my trainer about it when we got back, and she said next time he's due to be shod, she'll have the farrier put his hind shoes back on. It didn't matter much when I was working him in sand for the most part. We opted to give him a little more time to heal before putting the hind shoes back on since it wasn't essential. But  now he's going to walk on gravel/dirt roads to get to the outdoor and his turnout, and the outdoor footing is harder than the sand, so he'll probably benefit from hind shoes again even with a lower workload.

So sleepy after one night outside eating ungrazed grass! 
Saturday we had a lovely ride in the outdoor after I got my head on right. He was back to being sound behind, so I think his hind end was tired/sore on Friday after walking. The dressage arena was taken down for the winter, so there aren't any true edges to the arena, just the sand/grass line (creating probably a 100' by 240' sand area). I couldn't get him as through as I wanted without the wall to balance on, and he was wandering a bit. I was not happy, but then I realized, suck it up and create the wall with your outside aids like you should. I picked some lines in the sand as my "walls" and forced myself to ride each long and short side like I had walls. More outside leg to compensate for a strong inside leg that pushes to the outside rein. He was super after that.

Hacking to the outdoor. 

I worked a few simple changes through trot for our canter work. I have trouble keeping him through and keeping his shoulders from bulging left when I try to make the flying change from right to left, so I figure I'll start over with that too. I still have the same problem, so I'll fix it in a less stressful fashion, especially because I need to break his habit of bolting through me as soon as he hits a diagonal line.

I put the horses out Saturday night. Ten geldings and eight mares are in two smaller fields for the moment until water troughs can be put up on the hill where each herd has 8+ acres to graze.

The gelding herd Saturday night.

Sunday we went for a hack with a friend who had never been to the farm before. I wanted to go down to the river walk, but there's a mile long big rock/gravel hill that can be quite steep and I don't think Mikey could handle that yet. We hacked through the Christmas tree farm and had a lovely 40 min ride.

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