Monday, July 25, 2011

St. Jude Charity Trail Ride

This past Saturday Spirit and I had the pleasure of riding in the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital charity trail ride put together by the Greater LA Paint Horse Club and very kindly hosted by R&R Ranch in Moorpark, CA.

If you're interested in learning more about St. Jude, click here.

It was a very special day, for a few reasons.

Firstly, Spirit got to meet her dam for the first time after getting weaned. Kathy and Bob, Spirit's owners, came and rode their horses, Lucy (Spirit's dam) and Bud. We made sure Lucy and Spirit wore matching colors, and of course we took photos of mamma and daughter. A part of me wanted Lucy and Spirit to be instantly friends. I didn't expect them to know that they were related, but I guess I was hoping they'd have some inexplicable (to them) connection of souls. They didn't. They treated each other as they would any other horse - Lucy was clingy to her best friend Bud, and Spirit was just friendly with everybody. Oh well, we humans knew and got a kick out of it.
Lucy on the left, Spirit on the right

Spirit on the left, Lucy on the right

Secondly, it was the first time the six of us went out as a horsey family: Kathy on Lucy, Bob on Bud, and myself on Spirit - all together and having fun. It was really nice to hang out together. The trail ride itself was very nice. It was a hot day but with a refreshing breeze wafting up smells of dust and sage and wildflowers. The horses all loaded well, stood tied to the trailer in the hot sun very nicely, drank water when presented to them, and overall just behaved like solid troopers. Meanwhile us three humans got to hang out and have some great conversation, good BBQ, and a fun raffle for charity (Kathy had the audaciously good luck to win practically half the raffle prizes! And was kind to share some of her winnings with me).

Thirdly, this was our first time trailering out for an event that wasn't a competition (or emergency evacuation) and Spirit just blew me away with her behavior. In a good way. Again. I didn't have any particular expectations about her behavior, and certainly no concerns; I took it for granted that she'd be fine. And yet she wowed me. She was perfect loading. Perfect standing next to the trailer (sans hay bag) for getting tacked up. Perfect meeting all sorts of strange horses and new humans. She was incredible on the trail. There was a part at the beginning and end of the trail that involved fairly steep slopes filled with rocks, on a narrow path on the side of a hill. I told Spirit I wanted her to carry herself up and stay at a walk rather than able up and down the hill - this forced her to use her hind end and be a careful mount. She did not put up one iota of resistance, though this was quite a lot of physical exertion to ask of her. During the flat parts (most of the ride), she was patient and listened well, wasn't spooky in the least even when we saw a coyote (okay, maybe she didn't notice it), she even dropped her head down and I felt her entire body just relax - somehow she knew that that was the point of the ride, and I think she really enjoyed herself. She was able to walk, trot, and canter on the trail very nicely. And she was neither herd-bound nor barn-sour, even when we made a U-turn on the trail. When we got back, she stood nicely, drank water whenever I presented it to her, was calm and easygoing when we explored the facility to find a washrack, and then stood nicely at the trailer while we humans went and had a BBQ. Simply put, she could not have been any more perfect. I am so blessed to have this wonderful, mature young horse!

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