Monday, November 30, 2009

We're back....

Today I went out with Vicki and Dakota . At the trailhead, we met a friend of hers in the parking lot, and she joined us as well on her big Warmblood "Tommy." Suzie is Tommy's mommy. Vicki and I had planned to do a longer ride today, 10+ miles, on a trail that takes you back into the deep , really pretty part of the park. Santana has never ridden with TWO other horses before , so this was great for us. And Suzie and Tommy are great. Suzie has great trail etiquette, and Tommy is just a very, very fine boy. So handsome too.

So off we went. It started out a little chilly (mid-fifties) and overcast, but that all burned off in about an hour. Then it was a typical Arizona winter day; gorgeous.

Santana led at first, but we leap-frogged the entire ride, which is good for my young boy. The terrain was typical, sandy and rocky, lots of "cowboy roller coasters" up and down. Early on in the ride we ran into a couple of bikers. Tommy, being a very tall horse, was out look-out horse, because he can see way out there. WE past several hikers as well, including a large group of older hikers who were on both sides of the trail. Santana was a good boy with all of that, although I personally did NOT care for one old hiker dude referring to my pride-and-joy as a MULE. A MULE??? Really??? Just because he has big ears (not THAT big) and he has stripes, does not make him a mule. I'm still a little offended. Mule. Sheesh.

So, about Suzie and Tommy. Tommy was going to be euthanized when he was a 2 year old, because he was wild and dangerous, according to the owner. Suzie fell in love with him, took him home, and , one small fortune in training bills later, she got a super horse. He is 9 now, and a very steady, reliable mount who is the love of her life. Suzie's husband is a chopper pilot in Iraq, and, she needs to stay busy. Tommy is her salvation during this time that has got to be a hell for her. Her hubbie is in very dangerous territory. Horses can do amazing things for us to heal us in so many ways. Tommy is who she has to hug right now, and to hang out with and talk to. I can relate to that.

Anyway, our ride was pretty uneventful. All three horses were extremely well behaved, although Suzie says that Tommy says nasty things to the other horses, and I believe her, cuz Santana would lay his ears back from time to time when Tommy got too close, or even not very close. Santana really didn't like him much. Suzie says that Tommy is a VERY dominate boy, always has been, and that most horses don't like him.

I am convinced that the trainer who had Santana for 30 days did a lot of work with him in washes. When we got into washes today, he really acted funny, very forward as if reacting to, or anticipating bad things. I think the guy worked him in gait in the washes, and when he fell out of gait, he beat him. I KNOW he was hard handed with him because I talked to him before I got Santana. Hmmmm. We are going out tomorrow with Crissy. I'll see what he does then in the wash. At first I thought it was being out with two other horses, but that definitely was not it,as he could care less about he them anywhere else on the trail, just not the wash......there is SOMETHING about the wash......hmmmmmm.

And of course I have to point out that Suzie was constantly commenting on how she couldn't believe Santana was only four, and how cute and adorable he is. And then she just comes out with "I LOVE that horse. He is too cute." And that he has a good mind, ect. Ok, complimenting my little guy will get you everywhere. I really like this Suzie!

It was windy in the back side of the mountain, and one of the trail markers was broken at the bottom, and was blowing back and forth. Santana was leading at this point, and he stopped to look at this potentially dangerous thing. After all, as group leader it is his responsibility to ensure the safety of the group. He approached it, and in typical Santana form, proceeded to play with it. The picture above is of one similar to the one he played with. We have passed these things hundreds of times, but the one dancing in the wind was of a little concern. Just a little.

We got back onto the main trail heading back to the trailer. Punkalicious did his usual "I don't wanna go back yet" but he was better about it. He wanted to go down a different trail away from the other two, that would take us away from the trailer, but still back to it. I made him stay with the group, and we got back all safe and sound.

He was a very good boy, carrying me for 10 hard miles. We got back to the trailer and I swear he wanted to go another 10. And he will, but tomorrow.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Bored, bored horse

Well, i know its been about a week since we've been out training. But thats because I had to cancel some rides due to a sick dog I needed to be with. Unfortunately, I had to put him down. But Santana and I should be back out there on Monday. Stay tuned.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Well, he is NOT a city horse

Today was the Mounted Patrol obstacle and desensitisation seminar.

It was not our day.

I went to bed early, tried to get some sleep. Woke up at 3am, couldn't get back to sleep. Had to get up at 5:30 to feed, as I needed to load Santana in the trailer by 7. It was cold and dark out there. Yuck.

Not that the facility was probably open, but I wish I had gotten there a lot earlier.

Santana has never been anywhere but the public arena with one more horse there, or, the mountain, which , well, is a huge area.

I unloaded him, and my normally calm boy was a little excited. I had a bit of a time saddling him. I walked him to the arena. The organization putting this thing on didn't give you any info on how this was going to be run. I didn't know if it was going to be a few horse in the arena at a time, or what.


35 horses, most of whom were also very nervous and anxious. This is a covered arena with a P.A. system blaring, tractors going panels clanging. It was chaos, and the arena was crowded, and most of these horses were NOT under control.

Remember the horse that kicked that horse I bandaged?? Well, he was there. Ugh.

So, here is little Santana, in a covered arena for the first time, around a large group of horses for the first time, and most of them are not calm. At all. I didn't have a good feeling about this.

Now, in the arena about 20 feet away, there was a huge roping going on... cattle, and cowboys, more horses everywhere.
In the arena about 50 yards away, a gymkhana was going on. There were over 125 trailers, and over 200 horses on the grounds, in a fairly small area! Did I mention that Santana has never been around more than one horse at time??? This was nuts. Not a good environment for his first outing of this nature. I think it was overload, even for him.

I wasn't at all comfortable with the conditions in the arena, especially for my boy, as this was his first organized arena event. I walked him out during the "warm up" session. It was too much. I was nearly run down by a horse that took off like a bat out of hell when a tractor started up close to her. I saw a Clydesdale jump on top of a quarter horse in fear. (i thought those guys NEVER spooked?) I made the decision I was not gonna do this, not yet. I would let Santana "observe" from the rail, and get acclimated to this chaos.
After about an hour on the rail, he had calmed down, but I had not. I was watching all these out of control horses dumping their riders, crashing into each other, and , lets not forget, we had to watch out for the kicker that nearly killed Fancy!

I opted to just observe the whole session, which was four hours. SAntana did calm down, and I walked him to the roping, and the gymkhana, and just around and about. It was good for him to just hang out in this environment, but I don't think it would have been fair to ask him to participate, and I was concerned for both of our safeties. Maybe I just chickened out. I don't think so.

Friday, November 20, 2009

as requested, Santana at play

One of my very bestest friends asked me if I had pictures of "Punkalicious" on here playing with his soccer ball. I don't so, here they are. When I got SAntana, he came with a set of baby (think not weaned yet) pictures. He had this big, big ball that he played with. Naturally, I had to get him one.....

Update on the little mare "Fancy" who got kicked

Fancy's mom, Connie called me last night to let me know how she was doing.
They got her to the hospital and she said it took a half an hour to get the blood of off Fancy's leg. It was caked on there, and I don;t think there was an inch of that leg that wasn't caked in thick, multi layers of blood.
The wound was bigger than they had thought, but the pressure bandage did its job, and it had started to coagulate by the time the Dr. cut our "field bandage" off. She decided not to stitch it, to let it drain naturally. She put a fresh bandage on it, started her on anntibiotics and Bute for the pain, and sent Connie home with Fancy with home-care instructions. She will be on stall rest for two days, then on to a hand walking regiment. Fancy should be ready to ride in a couple to three weeks. I am so happy she is going to be just fine! I will let you all know when we go riding together, as we are going to! It will be great!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Santana Saves A life Today

Wow. What a day today. We went out for our second ever solo ride in the mountains, which is part of a park system. When we got to the trail head, there was another trailer there with three riders, a man pon a big palomino, and two women on sorrels, just getting ready to head out on the trail. I noticed they were gaited horses as they left. Wanting to be sure to distance Santana from them, I waited a few minutes before heading out, even though I didn't know which trail they were taking, as the trail divides many times as you get down the trail from the trailhead. When I was satisfied they were far enough off, I mounted Santana, and off we went. He was nice and calm, and happy to be going up the trail. It was a beautiful day. We probably were about two miles in, and I noticed the man on the big palamino, coming at us, head-on,FAST. Not wanting to freak my young horse out, I flagged him down, and asked him to slow down to pass. He actually stopped, breathing hard, as was his horse, and said they had a wreck. His horse kicked another and it was bad. None of them had any first aid supplies with them, he was on his way back to the trailer to get some.
Now, people tease me all the time about the fly-fishing vest I wear EVERY ride. This vest is FULL of first aid and survival supplies, should me and my horse part ways. I asked him where they were, and he told me about a mile and a half up the trail. He had already called a vet. I explained to him that I was on a green horse, and offered him my vest to take back, but he was not very rational, and said no, he'd go back, and he had called a vet. He then took off again. Santana was a little excited about this horse flying away, but he was a GOOD boy, kept four-on-the-floor, and barely told me he wanted to chase that horse down. I knew if I could get to the hurt horse fast enough, I could help, as I had my trusty fishing vest on, with vet wrap, duct tape, and diapers. So, I told Santana we had to GO. Mind you, he doesn't know how to properly gait yet, or do anything really other than walk. Well, he hit a little rack-a-lope type thing, and we were off! We got to the injured horse in just a few minutes. I wasn't prepared for what I saw when I got there. Blood everywhere, caked down her front leg. She got hit at the top of her leg, about 4 inches down. (see pic) and the lady said, "see what happens if I let go?" And blood just gushed out like a garden hose turned on. Obviously an artery had been ruptured, and this was not good at all. They had used T-shirts, and they were totally drenched through. They had nothing to stop the bleeding with. The bleeding had to be stopped or this mare was going to bleed to death right there on the trail. I handed Santana's lead rope to the other lady, took off my vest and went tot work. I wrapped two diapers around the leg, and then duct taped the crap out of that. It was very tight. Then I took a roll of vet wrap, and went around all of that. The horse was getting shocky, but her respirations were good. She was calm, and didn't move a muscle the whole time. I told the lady she HAD to get a vet out here, that I wouldn't recommend her moving this mare until a vet could either stitch it, or properly wrap it to where she was safe to move. I called the ranger station and asked if there was a quad available. Nope. The man was back by now, and said the vet he called couldn't get to us. So we called Arizona Equine Center, which happens to be my clinic. They have lots of vets, and someone is always on -call. Sure enough, they could come. By now, over 45 minutes has passed. I was able to clean the mares leg off below the bandages to see if I got the bleeding stopped. I had!!!! I felt better, and I was anxious for the vet.
Now, while al this craziness in going on, Santana just hung out with the other lady, Lynn, who was also holding her horse. (the kicker was the man's horse.)Thats him hanging out in the top picture top this page. Thats Lynn, and her horse behind Santana about two feet. I was so proud of how patient he was being during all of this. He stood for an hour and a half total, on the trail, never moving around, just being very, very patient. What a good boy.
The man left again to go see if he could bring his trailer in closer to the mare. Even when he took off, Santana was calm, and didn't act like it was any big deal. We had to coordinate someone meeting the vet and getting her to the horse. I had my GPS, and was able to give an exact location. Now it was just a waiting game. The bleeding appeared to be stopped with the pressure bandage, and her eye looked better, and she looked better than when I got there. After about another half an hour, we saw the man's truck and trailer coming up an access road maybe a quarter mile "cross country" from where we were. The vet wa behind her, as was a sheriffs deputy and the park ranger. The Cavalry!!!!! Turns out, the vet was Santana;s vet. They had to hike the quarter mile or so cross country through the mountainous desert to get to us. The vet had her technician and her husband with her. Lots of help! Wen she got to us, she saw all the blood soaked t-shirts, hands, arms, pants and ground. There really was blood, and lots of it, everywhere. She asked me what I did to the leg, and how I wrapped it. I told her, and she said, "good. You saved this horse's life." She applied another big puffy bandage over the one I put on, and they decided it was ok to walk the mare to the mans trailer, now less than a quarter mile away. From there, they would take her to the hospital where Dr. Robinson would take the best of care of her. The ladies thanked me profusely, and took my cell number so they could call to let me know how "Fancy" was doing.
When the other horses left to head to the trailer, Santana picked his head up as if to say, "wait, you're leaving??" By this time, it had been over an hour and a half of him just standing there, calm, calm, calm, waiting for me to finish whatever it was I was doing. He wasn't sour or upset about his new friends leaving, just aware. He did whinny once. That was it.
But we weren't done with our solo ride!!! So off we went. We did another 5 miles of hard terain, remote area. We never saw another person the whole time. He was such a good boy.
We got back to the trailer after a very eventful five hours total.
What did I learn rom all this?
I learned that I need to carry more duct tape. the mini-rolls are great, but one wasn't really enough. Carry two. Carry more diapers. Had I needed to use any for us after this incident, I would have been S.O.L.
I learned that my young, 4 year old can handle stressful situations like it is no big deal, and that he is a very trustworthy mount, even in the worst of situations.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

more miles, some cross-country...

We went out today with Crissy, the gal with the mustang who went with us on our very first ride. This time she brought her Rocky Mountain horse. At last, a horse that could keep up!
Santana made several improvements today. Leading him out to the trail, he wasn't as anxious, and walked next to me, as opposed to wanting to get in front of me a little.  I put  the rope halter with knots on the nose on him yesterday, and we schooled some on that yesterday on our solo ride.  Seems to have paid off, because he was much better about it today. Same with standing for mounting. He wasn't perfect. but he was better than a couple days ago. Progress, no matter how small, is a good thing. 
Once mounted, Santana took the lead. He prefers to lead than follow. But he will follow, and isn't a jerk about it. Good boy. But I let him go first most of the way. We took a marked trail for about half the ride. Crissy had to be back by 11:30, so, at one point i made the executive decision to take a trail that we used to ride a lot, but now the park says it isn't a trail.....but I knew it would get us back where we  needed to be on time for Crissy. It is a good trail, I don't know why the park doesn't "recognise" it. The trails have ben there long before the county came in and "made" the area a park. So I didn't feel too guilty for going off a marked trail.   Because it was "off the beaten path" it was pretty, and no human foot prints and no mountain bike tracks. That was awesome.  We encountered a couple of HUGE boulders in the middle of the wash. Most horses think these are horse-abducting space ships. They are about 10 feet tall, by 15 feet across, two of them. In order to stay on the trail, you have to walk between them. I have yet to go through there without every horse spooking, or snorting, or reacting in some way.  Well, Punkalicious just walked right on by. We had to turn around and wait for Crissy, her horse wasn't so sure about this.  When we turned around, Punkalicious put his mouth on one of the rocks as if to tell Crissy's horse, "see. its ok, its just a rock."  WE got around and got back onto one of the parks "official" trails, and got back to the trailer in time to et Crisy to work on time. Santana was better about going back to the trailer, but he stil tried to turn around and go the other way a couple of times... this time though, I carried a small crop to "motivate " him a little on getting back. Silly boy. 
Have I mentioned he is barefoot? All of our terrain here is rocky, gravel, sand and abrasive. His feet don't so much as chip even a little. My trimmer says he will have rock-crushing feet. Conditioning them properly is key, of course, but you have to be starting out with genetically great feet, which he has. Awesome. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Going Solo!!!!

Well, since my last entry, we have gone out a couple more times with other riders.  Nothing new to report there, Santana remains solid and is learning and getting better everyday at figuring out how to balance himself and me on pretty treacherous  terrain. 
But today was another milestone for us. We were supposed to go out with Vicki again, but she called this a.m.  not feeling well.  Soooo, I got up my nerve, and decided that this would be the day I try him out there alone, solo, just him and me.   
Now, I really did everything wrong. I know better. Normally I am the poster child for safe and smart trail riding.  Not today.  I didn't tell anyone I was going out. Nobody knew where I was. (I do get cell service there, so, ....there was that...)  Once saddled and ready to go,  I decide to take a trail I haven't been on in a couple of years, that is not very well traveled.  Funny how I had forgotten how hard some of the terrain was..... I stopped Santana at one point because the section of trail in front of us was pretty hard, and one hoof in the wrong spot could result in us summersaulting down the embankment.  He insisted we could go on, and that it was fine.  I decided to trust him, and, naturally, he handled it like a seasoned veteran.  This was a spot that I have been leary of even on Eli, Best Horse in the Universe.  It is one of the reasons I don't travel this trail very often....which of course I didn't remember until we got right to that spot today.  Santana was unphased by the lack of any other equine companionship. He really likes to just go exploring. If I wasn't on his back, he'd just go out on his own, just to see what was out there. But I think he was happy I was there too. It really doesn't seem to matter if there is another horse there or not. He just likes to go, but in fact, he seemed to be a little more careful today on the ugly terrain. But maybe thats just experience starting to kick in. 

So we need to decide what the new term is going to be for the pictures taken aboard Santana, like the one at hte top. Ears in pic are mandatory.
"Sancam"  "Sancamera"  "Santamera" "Camtana"  Or any suggestions???

The pics below are of a nest, either an eagle or a BIG hawk. I should have zoomed in more so you can see how big in diameter the sticks are that it is made of.  

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Be careful what you practice...

I took Santana (a.k.a. "Punkalicious") out on another ride yesterday.   We seem to have found a training issue. Seems he is soooo anxious to go down the trail, my sweet, well mannered boy has decided that standing still to be mounted is just a waste of time.  So, we will be going out there  just to work on that, as that is a major naughty no-no.

So, if you recall, the day before, Santana decided that he LOVES to go over "trail obstacles." He looks for  downed cactus skeletons to step over, over and over again. Kind of like when my brother and I were little kids at he amusement park, and we'd go on the roller coaster, and as soon as we got off, we'd run around to the start to go on again. Or kids who go down the playground slide, over and over and over again.  Well, yesterday in my effort to mount, I found a bench out on a trail that was perfect to use as a mounting block.  It was a nice tall bench, maybe two and a half feet tall. Well, damned if that horse of mine didn't scoot around up to it, (it was taller than his belly) and STEP OVER IT.  I was shocked. By the time I realized he actually did indeed just do  this, he was taking himself for a walk in the desert. Thankfully my friend was on her big Percheron, and was able to go cut him off and stop him, me following behind in total disbelief. I mean, this was a tall bench compared to my little horse.  I will try to go back and get a picture so you can see what I am talking about.  I think we will practice fewer trail obstacles in the future....

The ride itself was fine. We completed a five mile "big boy" trail. Tough terrain, lots of ups and downs, and different footings. He did better today not rushing down hill. We need to work more on not rushing uphill.  We ran into some hikers with a barking, obnoxious dog. Punkalicious was far more concerned with verifying if the people did, or did not, have apples or carrots in their pack.  They did not.  He is a very social horse.  Some mountain bikers went by us at the end of the ride close to the trailhead. He thought it would be fun to chase them, and pouted when I told him "no."  He did do a little better coming back to the trailer. He pouted every step of the way, but I think I only had to slap with with my reins once the whole time. Progress.

Today we are going to a huge obstacle course playdate.  This will be his first event with lots of other horses around. It will be in an arena, so, if he is "overwhelmed" I can take him away.   I think this will be good practice for next week.  What is next week, you ask?  I signed us up for a mounted police training class at the Queen Creek arena.  I think he will enjoy both these things. I'll try to get pictures.....

Monday, November 9, 2009

A hard ride , a stupid fall....

Well, today we went out with yet another new riding buddy. Vicki lives a mile from  me, right on the way to the San Tans.  I picked her and her trusty Appy steed "Dakota" up at 9am, and we headed to the mountain. At the trail head, I got up on the fender of the trailer to untie Dakota's head.  I sort of forgot that I was three feet up on the tire fender, thinking I was on the running board....and ouch! I fell straight down on my back landing on my back and elbow. I'm sure I made a stellar impression on Vicki. She laughed after making sure I was ok. Which I was, aside from the embarrassment... 
But the ride!!!!  Dakota is a lot lie my Appy Eli; very calm and quiet. And of course, he waked too slow for Santana who is convinced that we need to get wherever it is we are going in a timely manner. He is calm about it, but that boy just naturally likes to walk on out. We did some really hard stuff today. Very steep climbs and ascents on loose footing. He did great. He loves to do "trail obstacles" (think fallen saguaro cactus= logs to you Easterners; and would look for things to go and step over. Vicki said he is like a kid on the playground, looking for new jungle gym stuff to play on... We encountered a mountain biker and some hikers, and he didn't care. This ride was just over 5 miles, but it was a hard 5 miles. I kind of thought he would be happy to head back to the trailer this ride. Wrong. He sulks on the way back, but at least this ride I didn't have to beat on him with a twig to get him to go back. A simple slap of my rein was enough to keep his feet moving. He really likes being out, which is great, because so do I.  Vicki commented several times how relaxed he was, and how happy he was to be going down the trail. 
Vicki was great. She was patient when I  had to do some "schooling" with Santana. She used to ride NATRC, and wants to again, so, we can condition our horses together, though Dakota will condition much faster than my guy. Experienced horses come back into shape pretty quickly. Santana needs to develop all those muscles that Dakota has, they just aren't hard right now. She also brought a little baggie of carrots for Santana on the trail. Santana couldn't figure out hoe to get a baby carrot past the bit to chew it up and eat it, so he got his back at the trailer.  
Once we got back to the trailer, Santana sucked down a bucket of water. He always, always drinks when offered water. Gooood distance horse! It is imperative in distance riding that your horse drinks as often as possible to stay hydrated to pass those vet checks with flying colors. And there is truth to the old saying "you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make them drink."  And that can destroy a distance horse.  I don't think I will have any of those problems with Santana.  He seems to know what his destiny is, and he is thrilled about it. So am I.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Ride number three

Sooo, on ride  number three, we headed about 20 miles north to BLM land in the town of Apache Junction.  Again, I opted to take him out with an experienced horse, as this ride, we were sure to see lots of horse-eating monsters lurking in the desert. Around here, people seem to think that BLM land is synonymous with "personal dumping grounds."  
In order to get there, we trailered  to a woman's house who we would be riding with. From there, we had to ride along the road with traffic. Santana was unphased. He was just happy to be going out.  Once we were in the desert, there was lots of interesting terrain for him to negociate.  There were hills to climb and ascend. He seemed to like this, and figured out how to balanced himself and me while going up and down. As with the other two rides, he could care less about the other horse that was supposed to be along to "babysit." He is a big boy (all 14.1 hands of him) and he didn't NEED no stinkin' babysitter. And, she walked too slow, as far as he was concerned. After all, there were places to go, things to see.
We ran across many a stray tire and other miscellaneous junk. He ignored that.  The only thing he actually looked at was a 'fridge that was dumped in the middle of the wash we were in. And at that, he just wanted to know if it was edible.  Most horses, especially this green, would have really taken a long hard look at that mysterious predator, and most of those would have spooked. Santana just wanted to know if it was some new, rare desert flora  that could be eaten by a hungry horse.  He decided that it wasn't, and moved on.
We encountered some steep step-downs. He had to think about what to do with his feet to balance himself and me. But after the first couple, he figured out I would help him by adjusting my weight more over his hips, and that all he needed to do, was step. He carefully watched where his feet went, and never tripped or took a mis-step.
Again, he wasn't thrilled when I decided he needed to head back to the trailer, but at least this time I didn't have to cut a twig-switch to motivate him to go back. He pouted, but he moved back the whole time.
So, again, I'm a proud momma. I think he might be ready to go out solo. Well, he is, I'm sure. Me on the other hand......

Friday, November 6, 2009

Second ride

Ok, second ride was two days later, same trail. This time though, his  buddy was a Belgian mare.  He rode the same as with the mustang. Calm, relaxed, but walking with purpose. And oh yea, he didn't want to come back to the trailer!

And so it begins...

First of all,  to anyone reading this, you should know this blog will be the ongoing story of my adventures in bringing my 4 year old Kentucky Mountain saddle horse along as not only a trail horse, but as a competitive  trail horse and as an  endurance horse.

I got Santana last spring, as a 3 1/2 year old with 30 days of "gait" training.  We live in the low desert outside of Phoenix, AZ, so, think hot. Very, very hot. Santana came from the high country, and still had a heavy winter coat, which, he couldn't shed  fast enough.  But, what this really meant is, I  just brought home a young horse that I wouldn't be able to think about working with till the weather got under 100 degrees, 5 months or so, eh?  

Well, during the summer Santana learned how to BACK out of a trailer, and he learned that afternoon showers were in fact, a thing of beauty, NOT a form of torture as he had previously thought.  When it is 118 degrees outside, that shower felt goooooood. And a  haybag to go with it while he dried??? This must be the spa, right?

By the time September rolled around it was time to start Santana on some basic training...learning to yeild all four of his legs independantly, and oh yea, what "Whoa" means. He was a very quick student, and he learned his lessons fast, tho his attitude in the pasture or  arena was that of "this is soooo dumb. I'm bored."

Once I was confident that the little guy was ready to go out on the trail (did I mention he had to learn "whoa?") I had to work up my nerve to actually DO this. You see, while I am an experienced rider, all the horses I have previously owned were at least 10 years old with lots of experience. I have never started a horse myself, and I am a slightly timid rider until I am confident in the horse. Santana is just 4 years old, barely started. No  trail miles. What was I thinking????

I got Santana because, true to his breed description, he was calm, calm, calm on his test ride. He didn't really know anything, but you could saddle him and get on him. I thought I could work with a young hors that was THIS calm and quiet.

So, I reminded myself of WHY i got him,  and told myself to just put on my big girl panties, and take him out. I found a friend who was willing to go out with me on her experienced, quiet mustang mare.

Sooo, off we went. And you know what? He  was a very good boy. He took the lead, as he is a gaited horsewith a long stride, the mustang wasn't walking fast enough to suit his needs. We would circle back around to  pick her up, and off we would go again.   I put him behind her on occasion, and he was fine with that, though he really would rather have been  able to go faster, but he was good with it. I took him away from her, out of sight. He was  fine with that too. His biggest concern seems to  be "what's over the next hill? Funny, thats my question all the time too. I think we ware cut from the same cloth....Then it was time to turn around and go back to the trailer. Oh. really?  Santana did not want to go back. He kept stopping or tryingto turn around and go further up the trail. Hmmm, good problem to have with an endurance prospect! . He wouldn't even follow the mare back... as far as he was concerned, she could go  back, but he was gonna keep going up the trail.  I actually had to cut an iddy-bitty switch from a creosote bush and tap him on the shoulder to get him to go back.  This trail was very simple, god footing and clear. Not very challenging, but great for a first ride.  He didn't look at anything, ever. He was calm, and just walked on....I was a proud  momma!