Here are some more pictures of the evil Ragwort.
It's crazy something so pretty can be poisonous. :( So I'm taking my dad's four wheeler and my trusty Gorilla cart (wagon/wheelbarrow combo) out into the pasture and digging up these nasty things by the roots. I'm hoping if I dig them up and burn them (in the front yard) that not so many will come back each year. I'm also thinking about asking my neighbors if I can spray their yard since they don't have livestock... those pictures I posted the other day, the yellow field of Ragwort behind Chrome is my neighbor's yard. If you look closely you can see my fence. There isn't a huge amount on my property, but it's still going to take a while it get it all dug up. It's kind of fun driving the four wheeler all over the pasture looking for it though lol.
Pictures are from Wednesday's ride. I didn't take the camera with me today. I rode Chrome in the pasture instead of the front yard this time. He was being kind of annoying because he kept trying to go up front. I think he prefers being in the front yard because there's more activity and more stuff going on. He lives in the pasture so he knows every inch of it and it's boring lol.
So I practiced circling and weaving in and out of trees, up and down the slope of the pasture (not very sloped at all, but there is a tiny bit), riding up and down the dirt pile hill and walking over fallen tree limbs. It kept things pretty interesting, but if I got distracted even for a nanosecond he tried to veer back toward the front of the pasture. Brat! He was very easy to get back in the direction I wanted though so it's not that big of a deal. He's just still so much a baby at times.
It was really interesting at one point I was riding him through kind of a narrow, dark (overhanging branches) spot and he sucked back behind my leg. Up until that point I didn't even realize he was in front of my leg because he felt like he was walking kind of slow (I'm still learning his gaits). When he sucked behind my leg his head went way up too. He was eyeballing rocks and stumps like they were monsters. It's so funny how sensitive he is when I'm riding. When I'm leading him he doesn't spook or eyeball anything at all. He's so confident!! I guess I've been handwalking him so much that he just feels like he doesn't have back up anymore. I guess he thinks of me as part of the herd which is why he doesn't neigh when I walk him on the roads. When I'm on his back he feels like he's facing things alone. He's not nervous or spooky though, just wary and hesitant.
So when he would suck back and start eyeballing things I just gave him a nudge (I did need the whip today because he was being kind of lazy, but I didn't have to use it a lot, he responded to a nudge and vocal cue well), told him to walk on and made sure he kept his head straight (he was trying to turn around, but wasn't really trying to spook/spin so that's good). As soon as I got him going forward again he dropped his head and walked calmly through. :D I think he's going to be an easy one to convince, even from his back. I still think he's going to make a great trail horse!
I guess the really eye opening part of all of this is that it feels like I'm learning a whole new side of Chrome!! I've had him since he was five months old (he's almost four now) and I thought I knew every aspect of his personality. I'm loving learning about his personality while being ridden. :) He's still Chrome, just a little more hesitant and wary Chrome. He still trusts me though and takes my word for things, so it's all good.
I rode for twenty minutes again. Next week I'm going to increase our time to 25 or 30 minutes. I did a couple of really short trots, but it was cooling off and the wind was up so we kept most everything to a walk. Faran was being a dork, neighing and trotting (although it sounds like an elephant running) after us even though we were in the pasture with him. Chrome did really well with that, but I didn't want to tempt him to take off or anything if Faran started running. I'm probably overly-cautious, but better safe than sorry. :)
I hope every one is getting some saddle time! I'm loving being able to ride again!! It's been a long wait, but it's so worth it!
Oh and I almost forgot, here is a picture of Chrome after his ride today. :D I put him in the round pen with some hay because the other two kind of boss him around and don't let him get his fair share. That's my Gorilla cart by the way. It raises up and dumps stuff out like a dump truck. Totally awesome. :)