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Archive for December, 2009

Trip To The Park

When the sun is out this time of year, it means stop what you are doing, load up the horses, and head to the park for a ride.  You never know how long it will be until you get another chance!

Picasso Moon loaded into the trailer with Azure and Robin just like he had done it a million times.  In reality, it was his first time.  But not much phases this guy, he is like an old pro at some many things a lot of horses struggle with and he is just about to be 4 years old.  He trailers like a dream.  Azure kicks his front foot against the trailer wall and sounds like a prisoner trying to get out.  I always hate hauling Azure through town because people who don’t know horses probably think he is being tormented.  Actually, Azure is eating hay and I think he just likes the sound of his hoof making music on the trailer wall.  Picasso Moon rides like a pro… and quietly.  I thought he might hesitate to get into this small a space with horses he only knows across the barn, but he didn’t care.  The hay was good.

Picasso Moon is borrowing a saddle from Jaspar right now.  You wouldn’t think those two horses could share a saddle since Jaspar is built like a tank, but they actually have a lot in common in terms of the length of their backs and shoulders.  Both need a really short skirted saddle with rounded edges.  Jaspar’s breast collar needed some holes punched in it to make it short enough for Picasso Moon, and the girth size is much different:)  Picasso got saddled and waited patiently for me to finish up things around the trailer before we took off.

Picasso Moon was born to ride the trails!  He took off to lead the way right from the very beginning.  Robin and Azure have been to this park many times, so I thought Picasso would defer to them, but nope… he was going to lead the way.  Brave pony!    Azure and Robin were perfectly happy to let him go to the lead.  It reminded us of that old cereal commercial with “Mikie”… let him try it.  Anyway Picasso led like a champ.  He crossed all the bridges without hesitation, lead past the scary blue plastic tree starts (all the newly planted trees have about an 18” blue plastic canister type thing around them for protection and there are areas of the park where it looks like a field of blue plastic), around fallen tree stumps (Azure is sure that cougars live in those fresh tree stumps so he was happy to send out Picasso Moon first), and all the other trail obstacles of winter.

Since Picasso Moon is still quite fresh to being ridden, I let him make the decisions about walking and trotting.  He is actually a fast paced walker when he is focused, so Azure and Robin could move at a comfortable pace.  Picasso Moon reminds me a lot of Azure on the trail.  They both are very independent and not too effected by things around them.  Although Picasso Moon did have one sideways jump when a bird flew across his path just in front of him.  The Blue Heron sitting in the pond was ok, even when he took off, but that little bird who flew straight in front of him was a different story.  But one spook hardly rates a mention.  Fortunately we didn’t see any deer or elk.  The park has a herd of elk that live in it, we hear about it all the time, but have never actually seen them first hand.  The trail signs show pictures of elk and that is the closest I would like to get to them

When I am trail riding Picasso Moon, it is easy to forget he is so young and so new to riding.  He doesn’t have a ton of steering, but he moves off of my leg pretty well.  When he is trotting if I want him to stop, pulling on the reins doesn’t mean anything to him, so I just have to let out my breath and stop moving myself and he goes back to the walk.  We have gotten a few strides of canter in and they are so smooth.  It took Azure a long time to be comfortable carrying weight and cantering, so it surprises me a bit that Picasso Moon doesn’t hesitate.  All his gaits are nice to ride.  He may be short, but he is well built.

What a great ride we had.  We couldn’t have asked for a better first trip to the park.  Glad the weather broke long enough for us to seize the moment:)  Wish there were more pictures!  This last one was taken with an iPhone.

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Welcome home Picasso Moon!

Where is Sage when you need her?  I bet that is what Picasso Moon is thinking.  He went to school a couple of days after her passing away and the dynamics of the herd changed a lot since then.  Sage was always the horse who welcomed new horses and made the others accept the new herd member by befriending them. Sage was a horse that horses liked.  She wasn’t the “alpha” mare, she was the popular, friendly girl. Whenever Azure or Jaspar would go off to school for example, Sage would mediate their return to the herd.  She was not a fighter.  Most of the time she would simply stand in a position  that defuse potential bantering between the herd and the returning horse. I saw Sage do this so many times over the years I had her that I know it wasn’t a fluke.  I’ve never seen a horse behavior authority talk about a horse like Sage.  The alpha mare gets all the press.  Yet herds need a horse like Sage for balance.

Chanysk is the “alpha”  mare of our herd.  Since Sage  passed away, Chansyk has taken care of Beau and becomes his eyes and guardian.  She takes her new role very seriously and it works for Beau.  The return of Picasso Moon signals a readjustment for the herd. When Chansyk realizes that a new comer has entered her guardian area, she is called to action.

Alpha mare in full glory.  Note the expression on her face and the intensity she conveys.

Picasso takes the hint and relocates to another part of the pasture.  Chansyk moves pretty good for an old girl!  She is 26 years young.  Generally, she can’t be bothered by most things. But an invader in her eyes must be put in his place.

The amazing thing to watch during this whole process was Beau.  Somehow he was able to follow Chansyk around the pasture.  I don’t know how he did it. He used to have a hard time finding Sage when she would walk off when he didn’t realize.  Beau would call and call to Sage trying to find her and she would just let him struggle until he found her again.  But with Chansyk, Beau was moving around the pasture with her as if he could follow her.

Chanyk never let Beau struggle or feel lost in the process of monitoring the pasture and making it clear to Picasso Moon where he was and wasn’t welcome. She would take Beau up to a rocked area he would recognize and stand with him for awhile to let him relax a bit.  But she kept a careful eye on Picasso the whole time.

Picasso Moon is a pretty low key guy, but he has trouble understanding boundaries with horses.  Maybe because of his background.  When Azure first came to be with me, he was just out of a rescue situation too and  he didn’t know how to be a “horse” with other horses.  He was constantly getting himself in trouble.  Jaspar had to teach him the “way” of the horse.  And Sage was there to watch over him.  Picasso Moon will have to learn about interacting with horses too.  While Chansyk seems tough on him, she is a good one to help him learn.  While she might chase him, she wont hurt him.  I expect at some point when she is sure that Beau is safe around Picasso Moon, she will let him closer.

Picasso Moon did have some time to relax and do a bit of yoga while he was in the pasture today.

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