Thursday, August 20, 2009

Didn't need that shovel after all...

No one got whacked on the back of the head or buried with a shovel over the last 4 days, so our 2009 Farragut camping trip was a success. All 6 boys had attitudes ranging from adequate to excellent, and all had better behavior than they do at the ranch. One little guy in particular just seems to melt into nature. He's at one in the forest and is a fish in the lake- gets in and doesn't get out until we leave. Nature therapy at it's finest.

The Horse Hilton:

The four corrals at Thimbleberry group camp site, each horse got their own. You have to haul water to them. We just brought a hose and filled up buckets while they were in back of the truck and drove the buckets to the corrals. This ended up being one of the favorite chores as sometimes the boys were allowed to drive the truck. Sometimes we had to make quite a few trips when the brakes were hit aggressively and all the water sloshed out of the buckets.

The horses were all very good as well. Their behavior was not better than at the ranch- they were a little hyped up being away from home and had a few issues with being patient. But then again, they carried beginner riders for miles and miles and hours and hours up and down hills, walking, trotting, and cantering... so I can't complain. I think they're exhausted and are happy to be home relaxing.

This was Jaspers's expression for... oh pretty much the first three days.

One of the boys finds the Snotty Pony's itchy spot.

Farragut State Park is a great place to ride. You're either in open fields or in forest. Some of the forest the deep, dark woods- it's really cool to come out of a hot dry rocky meadow and enter the deep dark woods where the temperature drops 15 degrees and the dirt is moist under the horse's feet. There are some really nice long sections of trail that are hard packed dirt and perfect for a nice canter. I was really lucky to have 3 advanced beginners with me on this trip- so we were able to trot and canter a lot! FUN!!!

I would take 3 boys horseback riding while Anke took 3 boys mountain bike riding. We would wait for the other group at intersections on the trail, and in this case at the top of hills. I believe I'm telling the boys to get their bikes off of the trail as the horses behind me are cantering up it...

Jasper was stellar. He walked on the buckle. (He walked fast, mind you- usually in front and usually quite a bit ahead of everyone else. But walking). I believe that on trails if you horse is walking on the buckle you let them walk as fast as they want. If you need to circle to let others catch up, fine- but I don't try to rate the speed of the walk. He also trotted in front and behind another horse. In front he had a very nice medium trot he did all on his own, and behind another horse I was able to rate his speed with a very light touch. He got a little stronger at the canter, but again was easily rate-able, and hey- this is a baby horse! He's just learning how to do all this stuff!

There's a great big field in the middle of camp. On our first day Jasper was still so revved up after the trail ride we cantered loops around the field just to blow off some steam.

Having said that, he was a complete spazz when we needed to stop. Backed into trees, sidepassed off ravines, threw baby tantrums. I know what we need to work on before we go out in a group again. It wasn't just riding though, he never stopped moving when tied to the trailer and danced in circles when being lead.

This trip really reinforced that I made a good decision to let Ellie go. (She was a neurotic mare I was working with, convinced I could "fix" her, and then realized no matter how much she improved she would never lose the neurotic-ness and would never be happy doing something like eventing). I had her on this trip last year. She was 6. She was nuts and absolutely terrified of everything. Ride every stride. Prepare for a giant spook at every step. Jasper, at barely 4, was amazing compared to her. He was... well... fun!

After riding/riding in the morning, we'd have lunch and head down to the lake for the afternoon.

Lake Pend Oreille. (Pon-duh-ray). It's so deep they do submarine testing here.

Then we'd come back to camp and go for another trail ride and do an obstacle course in the field. The boys set it up this year- it consisted of going over a stick on 2 buckets with a towel over it, then around 2 inner tubes, over a log, serpentine 3 stumps, through a narrow "bridge" of 2 branches, and do a 360 in a box of tree branches.

Karlin, our volunteer who is training our young QH mare came up for the first 2 days and took Jasper around the obstacle course. Here is the first obstacle. Not sure how he got in this pose even though I watched it.

Jasper and the obstacle course.

Rooster and the obstacle course.

The last day. Hershey gets a pat and a kind word as he waits for the Snotty Pony, who was being ridden bareback because he got girth sores on the marathon 3.5 hour ride the day before. The boy who was riding the Snotty Pony wasn't excited about trotting to keep up, which is what the Snotty Pony has to do pretty much constantly with the gigantic 16.2h+ horses he was with.

We headed out early as it got HOT today and I didn't want the horses to be in the trailer for an hour and a half in blazing heat. The big pile of camping junk in the middle of my floor is giving off an odor of campfire smoke, which is kind of nice. And an excuse to just leave it there for ...a while, right?


manymisadventures said...

Sounds like a fantastic time! We've done some light horse camping a time or two before - doesn't look like the places we visited were as nice as where you were, though! - and had a lot of fun.

I haven't had a chance to take Pandora on any real trail-riding trips yet, though the new boarding barn isn't too far from a nice big park with lots of trails so I will probably do that soon.

Dancing aside, it sounds like Jasper was quite the gentleman!

EvenSong said...

Hi, Albigears. I like that you are exposing Jasper to all sorts of different experiences, not just schooling for combined training! I think trail riding is really good experience for young horses, and a good break for older horses that might otherwise get soured to their "regular" job.
[Thanks for your email, too!]

Anonymous said...

What fun - it sounds like everyone had a good time! Jasper looks to be developing into a fine horse, and great that you could take him on this sort of thing. On the stopping and standing - young horses just need to learn how (thanks for commenting, by the way!).

BritnieAnn said...

Funstuff!! I'd love to go horse camping! No one to go with tho :( I have the only sane enough, or old enough to ride, horse in the people I know well, boo. Maybe someday (before Daisy is ancient hopefully!!)

I'm so glad everything went well and no major mishaps. I'm sure those boys will remember times like these the rest of their lives.

That lake is BEAUTIFUL! And how neat about the sub tidbit.

Serena said...

Leg up with the wrong leg=best laugh ever.

jacksonsgrrl said...

Very cool! I do a mentoring program with at risk boys at the Equitherapy place I work, but we don't get to do camping trips. Sigh. Love that pic of you and Jasper cantering. LOVE IT!