I know, I know… Everyone thinks that! And maybe you don’t think that we have accomplished anything to epic from this story but for reals, he’s the best.
What did we do?
- Running braided his mane as it was hot and sunny and I’m glad I did; he was sooooo sweaty by the end! -
Oh, just go on a trail ride.
Only – here’s the thing…
Copper has been chilling in his paddock for the last six months – I’ve been riding every once in a while when I can, but honestly, at this stage that’s happening once every two to three weeks – sometimes even longer than that between rides because I’ve been so ill with my Hypothyroidism.
But as we have never had the chance to ride together (we were going to a Working Eq. clinic together but that’s when Copper got stringhalt… TT ^ TT!! ) my friend K and I decided to go out on chill trail ride, just walking around for a while at the National Arboretum. We decided that we needed to float out so that it wouldn’t take so long and the ride wouldn’t go for hours. So on New Years Eve, we went riding!
I pulled Copper out of the paddock at 8:00am and he just walks right on to the float. (He’s such a good floater - last time he floated out it was our move over a year ago to our current facility.)
Then we get there an find a spot to park and saddle up. He was just standing there, chilling at the float. He’s just soooo good.
I did need my friend to hold him so I could get on… That’s his worst re-occurring fault – if I don’t ride him in a while, he can never stand still for me to mount the first time.
But he let me get up okay and then we where walking! We crossed a road and where walking along the fence line of the Zoo & Aquarium. We had to cross a small rain drain that had a cage on top of it. It was on a really steep bit at the bottom of gully with blackberry brambles trailing everywhere – scary stuff! Haha!
Copper stood and looked at in for a minute or two and then was all like – “Charrrge!” He just put his thinking cap on and walked right across. I did my usual defensive mode which is slip the reins and grab a hunk of mane! (Never going to cut his mane – haha! It’s my Ohcr*pstrap)
We have an understanding - I let him negotiate the tricky bits and even if he gets a bit of momentum and has bit of a run after, or jumps a puddle, my job is just to stay with him and keep my balance so I can help him if I need too, and he takes me with him! Haha! It works for us. :P
As we were going up the side of the gully, a golf cart came trundling down the hill on the other side of the fence, and Copper scooted past it. We almost were able to stop and wait, but then another, nosier –flappity, flappity – golf cart came past and Copper scooted up the hill away from that one too.
While I was struggling to get Copper to stop, the others were struggling to get past the rain drain; both their horses where like “Nope!” but I think when they finally figured out Copper was on the other side they both crossed in a hurry.
Then we had a super low underpass to go under, and the other girls with me decided to hop off and lead their horses because they had had trouble with that rain drain. I decided to stay on – I knew I’d be safer as Copper is brave enough to go through, but I was not at all sure I’d be able to get back on him okay!
Again, I let the reins droop a little, twisted my fingers into a hunk of mane, and he took a moment to stare, then marched right through. He did have a little spook on the other side when we got out into the sunlight, but I think that was a “just in case there are scary monsters hiding that I couldn’t see” spook – rather than one where he was actually scared!
Then we where in the grounds of the Arboretum, with wide fire trails to ride on, lovely smooth dirt roads with a light dusting of small gravel that cut between the swathes of tree plantations.
Copper started out really well, with his happy trail walk which is relaxed and forwards – but then, he started to feel – off…
I was worried it was his saddle – he’d gotten so fat that there was every chance the gullet could be pinching him. I was worried it was his boots – his feet needed doing and I had to really jam them on, so maybe they were rubbing?
I just couldn’t figure it out – he was trying to turn around and go back which he NEVER does unless it’s been like 3 hours! Copper loves trail riding, and I knew something was up, but I couldn’t figure out what.
It got so bad as we were riding up the hill that I hopped off, checked his saddle and took off his boots.
I gave them to my friend as she had places on her tack she could strap them too, and walked up the hill most of the way. Then I had to get back on Copper ‘coz I was dying! … So unfit!
We rode up to the “Wide Brown Land” statue, and hopped off for bathroom break. Then we decided to go around the holding pens on the other side of the hill so that we could leave the horses there while I ran and got us some cold cokes from the café! (It was really hot!)
I decided to lead Copper to the pens (which were much further away than I had thought… Urgh! Unfit!), and I took off his saddle and bridle when we got there, but left his halter on. (I was riding with his halter and lead rope just in case)
Then two of us went to get drinks and one of us stayed with the horses. Apparently, when I left, Copper started spazzing out and being a real hoon! He was racing around the pen, cantering, bucking, farting and being a total silly boy… He also pooped four times.
My conclusion? He had a tummy ache…
Because when I tacked up to go again, he was perfectly fine after that!!
I was so glad he got that all out, because then we could actually settle in and enjoy the rest of the ride.
Of course, he still walks too fast for the other horses, so I end up in the lead on my own again. I always ask myself why I bother going with other people when I end up walking by myself for the whole ride! But no; there are lots of other fun moments and times to chat, so it was good. It’s just a little bit annoying that Copper just can’t keep his stride in check so that we can be with everyone else.
We went through a super hilly bit next where it was tons of steep slopes up and down ~ of course, that’s always fun, so I let him trot up those pretty quick, and the others would chase us up at a canter.
Copper figured out that his fast trot is just as fast a canter, so he mostly stuck with that, and I just stuck with him!
Then we where on the stretch home, and by this stage, we were both pretty pooped. For the first time ever, Copper volunteered to drop from a trot to a walk all of his own violation! Haha!
I was pretty happy when we made it back around to the underpass, and I think he was too. We were miles ahead of my friends, when I realised they’d stoped to take photos of the tigers at the zoo.
As we where passing by, the tigers had smelt our sweaty horses and were trying to jump the fence and get at us! Of course, they couldn’t, but they were pretty riled up about us just standing a few feet away from them and smelling delicious apparently.
It took a little bit of convincing Copper to turn around up the hill to be with the others, but he suddenly realised they were up there, and he did it. Then we continued on past the storm drain back to the floats.
When we had made it past the drain, Copper stopped at the top of the hill and his head was hanging, and his legs were shaking. Poor boy was so tired!
I said – Right, I don’t care what the others think of me, I’m walking him back! So I jumped off him and loosened his girth. And he perked right up again after a couple of mouthfuls of grass.
Haha, always thinking of his tummy…
We had a bit of a ways to go, but they did think I was doing the right thing, so I was happy leading him back to the floats.
Then we all sat around eating chips, grooming the horses and trying to convince them to drink the water.
Copper ate pine needles, hoovered up the grass and tried to eat a pine cone!! It was absolutely the funniest thing I have ever seen him do!!
He was standing there with the dopiest look on his face, the pine cone hanging from his teeth, flapping his top lip like he was trying to figure out how he could actually get it into his mouth!
I cracked up, but of course he dropped it before I could get a picture… :/
When they were well rested and completely cooled off, we loaded them back up and took them all back home.
Copper was very happy to see his girl friend, who was neighing a greeting to him, then he got down to the serious business of putting back on all the weight he’d lost from that exercise.
Horse, you are all stomach at this point – you could stand to loose some!
And that is the long and somewhat boring story of why my horse is awesome and I love him the bestest.