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Shar Takes a Trail Ride

Posted by greygelding , 04 October 2017 · 6,427 views

The Saturday after her arrival I couldn't wait to try out the new toy. The previous owner and her trainer had no interest in risking life and limb on that fiery girl so she had never been ridden. I on the other hand, lacking in common sense, couldn't wait to hop on board. She stood still for me to mount and I started with the simple things like go and stop. She seemed to hint about each command given, tried to do the right thing, and if praise was given she just moved on to the next thing. She's what I like to call a thinker, able to make the connection right away, then do it. In no time we were walking, turning easily, halting, and backing. The next morning I rode her again and she flawlessly performed for me so I had Pam ride her and all went well.
After she dismounted she stated "You're going to take her on the trail, aren't you?"
"Now why would you say that?"
"Because I know you!"
Well she was right. I counted her ride as number 3 and I was sure that she was ready for the first trail ride of her life. Boy was I about to be surprised.
She promptly loaded herself into the trailer as did Mayo. "Boy, all horses should load this easy!" Was all I could say. The trailer cameras showed both horses looking out their respective windows at the passing scenery. After reaching a park we unloaded the horses. Mayo came out looking around alertly as usual, bet Shar came out a bundle of excitement. The first wave of uncertainty swept over me. While saddling up she wouldn't hold still and the second wave of uncertainty came over me. Pam mounted on Mayo who was standing patiently but Shar was dancing around with excitement, refusing to stand still for me to get into the saddle, and now I was contemplating having a mental exam if I lived through this. I finally got one foot in the stirrup, swung the other leg over the saddle, and we were off. To say she was wound up for her first trail ride would be a massive understatement. She had no fear whatsoever. Couple that with a quick walk and Mayo and Pam were left in the dust. Her head seemed to be on a swivel and reminded me of a young kid on his first trip to Disneyland. Eyes wide and bright, looking everywhere, and hurrying to see it all at once. It was necessary to stop her occasionally for Mayo to catch up. She wasn't happy about it but consented with just a little fuss.
At one point we rode right next to several bales of straw covered with a blue tarp. This rated only a flick of her left ear without deviating from her path at all. The one thing that caught her full attention was a small lake. She stopped, took an attentive look, and made the decision that this required further investigation. I stopped her as there was no horse trail down to it and no safe place to do so. We safely concluded our ride and all too soon for her we returned to the trailer.
Tied to the trailer she attracted the attention of a group of riders with beautiful warm bloods. They came over and just gushed over her, feeding her carrots, and Pam was beaming with pride. Mayo and I were both totally ignored while this went on so I grabbed a candy bar and a couple of carrots to sooth our bruised egos. When they were finished we took our horses up a small hill so they could graze on the nice green grass. Mayo went right to work as he was used to the routine but Shar just stood still continuing her sight seeing. She was trembling and sweating with excitement to the point that I decided it would be a good idea to load them up and head for home.
She was always on the look out for something to play with. First it was the latch on her stall door. It was a slide latch and I would leave it all the way to the left so she wouldn't be scraped by it. It was always moved to the right whenever I returned. One day I saw her sliding it in and our so I secured it with plastic tie wraps. The next day the tie wraps were lying broken on the ground and the latch was moved again. This time I secured it with a screw and that was the end of that. I bought her a Jolly Ball horse toy which grabbed her immediate attention. It lasted two days until she beat it into submission. It was caved in, split, and throughly beaten up. I purchased her a new one which went almost untouched. I guess she figured that she had one and one was enough so she turned her attention to the automatic waterer. Her water supply was from a sink with the float type automatic watering system. The board owner and the feeder/worker weren't as amused as I was. First she would hold the float down with her nose to watch the water overflow so they enclosed it. She then removed the cover and removed the mechanism. They made it horse proof and then caught her working on the hose to it. They finally hit on a way of securing everything and had solved the problem, or so they thought. Pam and I were taking a one week vacation and while we were waiting for our flight I called the stable to see how the kids were.
"Hi. This is Mike. How are my kids?"
"We'll, your girl went pearl diving this morning."
"Pearl diving?"
"Yes, I and another boarder were talking and we watched her dunk her head underwater and come up with the stopper to the waterer in her teeth. All the water drained from it as she spit the stopper out of her mouth with a very satisfied look."
Trying not to laugh, "Sorry about that, wish I could have seen it."
"Well, I know how to stop her now. You'll see when you return."
When we returned from our trip we went straight up to see what had been done. All the waterers at the ranch had been replaced by deep plastic barrels, no drains, equipped with a horse proof automatic waterer. She was right. There were no further water incidents.
Shar wouldn't chew on fences or damage her corral. She needed something to amuse herself with but everything we tried was either broken or she just lost interest after a couple of days. Next she turned her attention to us. When we would arrive she would neigh with that shrill neigh of hers. If we didn't respond quickly enough she would shrill again, grunt, and run around her corral hoping to catch our attention. On the times when we didn't turn her out in the arena we went into her corral. We u
Would undergo a complete inspection where the possibility of treats would be revealed. If I was packing treats, and I usually would be, she would figure out creative ways to make us part with them. She was quick to realize that we rewarded unusual and what we considered cute behavior.
We were sitting in the doorway of her stall when Shar walked up and stood in front of us. Pam pointed at one front foot. Shar looked down, didn't see anything out of place, then raised her head and lifted the foot. Delighted Pam gave her a carrot. While chewing Shar put it together and lifted the foot again and another bite of carrot came her way. Now the leg was really lifted high and a happy Pam responded. Looking back I'm not sure who was training who but both were making quick progress. She tried pointing at the other foot and on the second attempt Shar lifted that one and a star was born. Over the years Shar started to add new parts to it on her own. She would twist her head sideways, she would do a sort of bow, and the she added a front foot pawing routine to the bow. She would always start with the leg curled and lifted high as this was a sure was to get treats if we had them.
Another habit which would infuriate other horse owners, but we found it endearing, was to empty our footlockers which we kept in front of Begonias and Mayos stalls. Inside were buckets, bags of stuff, brushes, and a bunch of other horse stuff. When tied to a long lead so she could reach the locker she would flip open the lid and start to rummage through it. She would grab some of the items in her teeth, remove them, and drop them outside the locker. The bigger items she would push out with her nose. She always had such a great time that we just let her indulge herself. It was no time at all before she was untying her rope as well.
At dinnertime when no one was around we would just open the gates to the small turnout areas and they would race home, Begonia and Mayo to their stalls, and Shar to Mayos footlocker where Pam liked to fed her the evening grain. Pam would sit on the locker with Shar's head in the bucket Pam was holding, and softly stroke her neck while she was eating. She would never raise her head out of the bucket until she was done eating. The other horses benefited from her antics as there was an increase in freedom and treats.

July 2020

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