Sunday, April 6, 2014

Tough Sucker Woes

Well yesterday was not a great day. It started out good. It was a warm gorgeous morning and I had driven out to Oreana for the endurance ride with my intentions of riding 50 miles on Brass at Owyhee Tough Sucker. 

I saddled up and we did a warm up in the round pen. And I rode out of camp at 8:30 with my friend, Linda Ballard. She needs 105 miles on her mare to finish out her mare's 1000! 

Brass was doing great, he accepted the 25 milers coming by and was eating and drinking. Traveled along fairly relaxed and respectful. Linda and I just walked and trotted along. Then at the top of a long sandy wash about 20 miles out for some reason he bolted, tossed in some leaps over the sagebrush and I simply could not get his head around to stop. Visions of Thunder being a runaway so many years ago rushed into my head. I knew there was rocks at the top of the hill, and sand where we were, so I took the sand and baled. he stopped at the hill top not far from where we were and looked, walked up the next little hill and stopped and looked again. I hoped he would come back to Linda's mare. But he vanished and headed west, which was the wrong way. I tracked him over the hill and he was just a fast speck on the horizon. He was definitely heading for Highway 78 and I had no idea where he would go next. I decided following him was not the right option. I told Linda don't wait for me, I'll walk back to camp.

Then Carrie Thorburn, who was riding the 25, came along on her second loop and called Regina Rose, ride manager. She got the voicemail of course! She left a message that my horse and I had parted ways, I was OK and walking in but the horse was headed for the highway. When Brass bolted he'd torn the front Epics off his hooves with his explosive bolt. So I picked them up and headed over the hill to camp, took a small shortcut. I wondered if he hadn't pulled off a boot and that set him off but I was sure that was a 'No" because I had worked with him having loose boots flop around his pasterns. The whole time I cussed the horse and swore I was never getting on him again. 
I was almost back to camp, here comes Regina on the 4 wheeler. "We got your horse.", she says. My answer, "Can I ride him?" (Who said that?) Yup she said. "Climb on!" So I hopped on the back of the four wheeler and Regina sped off with me wailing, "OH my gosh this is worse than riding my horse!" We got in the car and went down the highway to get the horse. The Sheriff, actually two, were there with him. 
Brass was all nice and calm and Officer Rocky had taken off his hind boots. They are like, this nice calm horse dumped you? I replied, "Yeah he's a bit schizo." Rocky was petting him and asked me his name. "The Big Brass" I told him, "only right now it's "you sorry bastard!" They laughed.  I took Brass and had him flex and give to the bit, I backed him up, basically did all the ground moves. He seemed back to his old self. I climbed on and rode away saying thank you. And I now had Regina's number in case I fell off again. I rode 9 uneventful miles back to camp. 3:30 PM. End of my ride. 
I'm rather stiff and sore this morning but OK physically. Mentally I am very disappointed and trying to analyze what the heck went wrong. Did a boot slip off and spook him and cause him to bolt? Maybe. But I have worked with him with boots just attached to his pasterns so he can get the feel of that boot flopping around on his leg. 
Then Ted came by, as he has been analyzing it all. I told him my tale of woe and he asked a few questions and we came up with some guesses. Endurance involves forward motion, continual forward motion. When I am out alone I stop and circle, do a C pattern, forward, backwards, left and right. But not on an endurance ride. There really isn't time for that. I had him flex every time I got on and off, only circled a few times in the first couple miles. But my mistake "could" have been and probably was - sort of doing a half halt to rate his speed with one rein. This made him ignore the bit and think he didn't have to stop. That coupled with no "come to me" exercises which keeps me in charge could explain the problems. However his biggest crime was in leaving me out there and not coming back when I called him.
So we need more miles with his lessons mixed in. He's like Calvin of Calvin & Hobbes where the ADD kicks in and he sees imaginary dragons. I may rename him Calvin, it's probably better than you sorry bastard! At least in public.
Young horses are easier to train than a 7 year old with issues and a history of mishandling and people problems. He has had it wrong for a long time so he requires much more than the average green young horse. And he is still green even though I may forget this when he gives me the perfect ride. But when he is bad, oh Lordy look out. Right now fixing him is the next step and when Ted left he asked, "Are you going to be home today?" I said "Yes I think so.". "Good" Ted replied, "if he is gone later I came and got him. I need to ride him and figure this out. " 
Oh and by the way, Linda's mare completed at 7:30 and now only need 55 more miles! YAY!  


Carrilee said...

thanks for sharing, Karen. I bet you haven't bitten off more than you can chew. I'm betting you two will work it out. Huge kudos to you for saying, "Can I ride him?" Ha!! Did that slip out of your face before your bruises could stop you? So smart, you are. Have fun riding those "good ones" for a bit!

CG said...

Glad you are both OK!

Karen C. said...

"Can I ride him?" Nice! :-) So glad the both of you are okay! Taking a fall is hard enough, but seeing your horse get smaller and smaller is scary! I hope you all figure out what it was that scared Brass so you can work on it.

And congrats to Linda! That is awesome!

Dom said...

Ooooh... bad pony! I'm glad you're both alright...

Funder said...

Awww, man, tough break! So sorry to hear it, but I'm glad you're both still sound!