Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Horse Went Over the Mountain, and All that She Could See?

How many times can I mention how much I've enjoyed having company, even from brave souls who ventured our way despite the high summer temps? Not enough, clearly.

A horse-crazy daughter of a dear friend found her way out our way again this summer, despite temps well above 100, to get in some trail riding and play with the girls. She's a really fantastic kid - smart, thoughtful, helpful, playful, quirky and beautiful - who I love to have around. (Her brother's wonderful as well, but didn't make it out this go-round.)

Said Wonderful Girl joined me for a long ride into the nearby forest where we finally made it to the top of the hill behind our house. (Flatlanders might call this hill a mountain, but it's an easy morning walk to the top and back again if we could just get straight back there from the top of our property.) The going was rough in places, and we had to turn back when the terrain grew simply too steep for the mares. It was a good call.

So what did we see from the top of the hill? MORE HILLS! Next time: pack a lunch, start earlier and make it a day. But it was still a fun adventure, and now at least the curiosity behind this little peak behind me doesn't torture me so much.

We did learn a bit more about our "new horse." I knew our Old Girl wasn't great at hills; she likes to run up them rather than walk and is only just learning to WALK downhill. But I wasn't aware of just how unstable she would feel on a steep hill until Wonderful Girl and I traded rides on the way back down. Turns out she never would have asked to make the change, but she'd gotten uncharacteristically quiet and I figured something was up.

Have you ever driven a motor boat SLOWLY? It's tough to steer, and overcorrecting is the norm. You steer a little bit to the left, but nothing happens, so you steer a little more, and the boat begins to turn. You straighten the wheel to "straight" but the boat continues to turn for a bit, causing drive to correct to the right. By the time the boat is headed straight again, it's too late. It's REALLY headed into a right-hand curve.

Riding Lady (aka Old Girl) downhill was a lot like that, only without the assistance of oversteering. Rather than simply turn and zigzag down the mountain like most regular horses will, she'd turn and slide sideways downhill for a bit before taking hold on "straight" across the hillside. It was very disconcerting. I tried turning her full curves, facing her back uphill after each turn like a junior skier first learning to carve the slopes. That seemed to help, but made for a weird trail down the hillside.

I think we'll hit it again once the temperatures drop significantly and with lunch, water, treats and jacket onboard.

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