Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Riding Through the Scary Tunnels with Buddies

Sometimes, everything in you says "DANGER"!  That's instinct, and it's a good thing to heed.  Like this tunnel, for example: graffiti, the smell of urine, the tincture of heated rail from the train that passes every hour or so above, the sometimes present noise of arrows at the archery range it feeds into....and the darkness.  Scary Danger!


Last year, the only way I could get Cowboy through this tunnel was to back him up until he was partially in, then turn him around and ride the rest of the way through.  Tricky!  We all had a good laugh about that one.  But you do what you have to do, and then reward them on the other side.


As we've all been talking about lately on this blog, fear is a good thing.  It shows a smart horse.  But elevated anxiety in our horses can also be dangerous for us as riders. That said, we decided to spend some time going back and forth through the scary tunnel in various ways.  We let the ones who were nervous (which were all but one) follow, and then, as they became more comfortable, take the lead, as we passed through back and forth as many times as it took to get them all to OK.



That's what you want in trail buddies, because it's what makes the adventure enjoyable for horses and riders and keeps everyone in the group safe.



Many years ago now, I made a bunch of horse friends online and we all met up and became flesh and blood friends.  Our friendship revolves around our shared love of horses. We have the same philosophy, even if we get to it different ways.  Mostly, we have support for each other as horsewomen.


I wouldn't go through the scary tunnels without this group, so I'm not much different than Cowboy. Call me "Smart", because "graffiti, the smell of urine...and darkness" really do point to danger when riding alone.  


We're buddies and our horses are buddies, and we all rely on each other to get through the scary places.


Who are your riding buddies?  What scary tunnels have they helped you pass through?


9 comments:

  1. Horses find courage in numbers.... guess they are a lot like us that way!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, they are like us. I constantly see more and more similarities.

      Delete
  2. That does seem like a scary tunnel. Not sure what the horses thought of it but apparently all the riding buddies made it a positive experience. Safety in numbers is always a good thing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. All the horses have seen it before, and they never really like it. Except our mare, Penny, who doesn't even blink before going through. She has 100 percent trust in her humans. That's a rare quality.

      Delete
  3. Never had the opportunity (yet) to ride through a tunnel, but we'll do it iff we ever come across one.
    I did however have to load a horse into a trailer in the middle of the night last week - looked very tunnel-like to him I guess - & it did take a while to convince him all would be well. Once he was on though - no problem.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can see where a trailer would be similar. I hope you do get to go through a tunnel someday. They're kind of rare to find, but fun to experience with horses. You ride into the darkness and emerge into the light. Kind of glorious.

      Delete
    2. I can see where a trailer would be similar. I hope you do get to go through a tunnel someday. They're kind of rare to find, but fun to experience with horses. You ride into the darkness and emerge into the light. Kind of glorious.

      Delete
  4. I mostly ride with my husband, but we're members of a riding club too, and there are some that I'll ride with, and some that I'd prefer not to. I agree that most horses find comfort in numbers, however not all. Our big boy, Ladde is just the opposite most times. He's very competitive and usually can't relax with a group. Bottom line: he becomes a nervous ass which equals a not fun ride. But when you take him out alone, or with 1 or 2 others, he is an absolute joy to ride. Funny guy! Glad you got the schooling opportunity at that tunnel. The more exposure to different obstacles, encounters the better our horses, I think. I agree with you, whatever clever idea we can come up with, to safely navigate our horse's minds and bodies through a scary situation, as long as all is calm, will be a win-win situation. Create a good/positive memory for them and us. That tunnel is very unusual, is that a concrete bottom to it? What is its' purpose? You are so lucky to have such beautiful riding areas!! Are you in Central Oregon by any chance?? My favorite places to ride are in Central Oregon...someday we'd like to move there...another dream...possibly LaPine area.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree about riding in groups--it's not always good. In fact, I don't usually like it because it makes Cowboy nervous, too. He's rode with each of these horses so many times through the years, though, they're now pretty good buddies. There were five us out that day which was more than we usually have at one time. It worked out great though because of their familiarity.

      It is a concrete bottom under the tunnel. It supports a well-used train-rail overhead, so I imagine they had to make it extremely solid. I think its purpose is to allow people to walk under the train tracks safely to the other side of the park where there's a huge archery range and cemetery. The location is Palisades Park Spokane. My husband and I are part of a volunteer group that maintains it. It's 700 acres of trails--creek, waterfall and lots of wildlife, and it overlooks the city of Spokane. It is really beautiful. We love that park.

      Delete

Please feel welcome to join our discussion--tell us about your own thoughts and experiences.