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Wizard Ride 275: Nervous Breakdown

September 7, 2011

Wizard, me, Kris, and Sunny

Monday, 9/5/11

It was Labor Day weekend, and my friends and I decided to go on an adventure out to the tree farm. Christie took Mimi, a mare from Camelot Auction, Kris rode Sunny, and Emily rode Kon. Before the ride, I turned Wizard loose in the indoor arena to let him stretch his legs. He sometimes gets excited out of the longer rides, so I wanted to let him let out a little extra energy if he had it. He did not seem overly energetic, and trotted and cantered willingly but without any fireworks.

We all tacked up and headed out. The flies were out, probably due to the humidity. The barn owner told us about a different way out to the tree farm, and it was a lot safer and a little more direct than our usual route since it avoided the road riding. Wizard was fine on the familiar trails, but got a little hot when we reached the new trail. He was happy on the lead, but I could feel him getting a little bottled up.

When we reached the fencing for the tree farm, we had to walk through a thorny trail to get into the farm. We picked our way into the park, and took a walk to the front of the farm, where there are some logs that are perrrrrrfect little jumps. Emily took Kon over some, and he was a star.

When we walked back around the loop, we learned that the bridge that leads to the main horsepath was out due to flooding from last week’s hurricane. Bummer! We looked around for any alternate paths that might take us in the same direction. We found one near the entrance where we walked into the farm property. The path was more of a people trail than a horsepath, and it did not not look too promising, but we gave it a shot. The very beginning of the trail featured a tiny wooden bridge, with a cluster of picnic tables in front of it. Visually, it was a challenge for the horses, and Wizard stood in front of it, very unsure of himself. He has crossed a much larger wooden bridge many times before, but the smaller one was a no-go. I did not push it, and instead, Christie hopped off and led Mimi over it. Good girl! Sunny and Wizard followed Mimi willingly, but Kon was confused, and was able to cross it once Christie and Mimi went back and showed him once more that it was passable.

Once we got over the bridge, we were on a sticky, slick, slippery, swampy trail. There were small wooden enforcements, which really were not great for horses. All four of us agreed that the trail was not great. We continued on a little longer, but the horses were unsure and slipping a bit. Christie found a spot to turn Mimi around, and we all headed back toward the trail home. Before we got off the slick trail, Wizard got very anxious. He was nervous, and the more nervous he got, the faster his feet went. He was practically cantering in place, and thankfully the rest of the horses kept their cool as Wizard had a meltdown. By sitting quietly, I was able to get Wizard under control enough to stay on the trail. Having Mimi on the lead as I got him settled was helpful, but then he got more anxious when he realized he was in the middle of the pack. This was the first time Wizard had been this anxious on the trail in many months. It took about 15 more minutes before he was back to his normal self, and he was back to being his great Wizard self when we reached the familiar trails.

When we got back to the farm, I asked Emily if she wanted to ride Wizard. She was happy to take him for a spin, and he got along really nicely with her. She’s a lovely rider. They walked, trotted, cantered, and popped over a few little cross rails. He was wonderful, and I was really impressed with how she handled him.

Once he was cooled out, I hosed him off outside in the wash rack. When the water got too close to his face, he had another little meltdown. I think this is a sign that he needs some more work!

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