I decided to go back to Catalina State Park on Sunday and ride the trail “Bridle Path”. Apparently it is a very popular trail as equestrians, hikers and bikers were all on the trail that day. It is a very easy going trail and wide enough that 2 horses can ride side-by-side. Unfortunately, Hondo does not like to ride side-by-side. You see, Hondo is a big bully to other horses and this day he seemed to be worse than usual.
I know I praise Hondo with great attributes. He really is an awesome horse. Hondo is well trained and he rarely gives me any trouble. We are bonded with each other and that is very important when you ride the trails alone. He has gotten us out of more than one sticky situation in the past. This past Sunday was a different story though.
Every time we passed other riders, Hondo would put his ears back and try to nip at the passing horses. He didn’t care if they were mares or geldings. He didn’t want to try to be friends with any of them. Hondo is very different with people passing us on the trail. He will nicker at them to try to get them to stop and say hello. He loves affection (from the human species!). He pretty much ignores bikers.
We were going around a bend in the trail and started passing a couple of horses and riders when Hondo actually tried to back up and kick the nearest horse. I used my spurs on him to get him away and to stop. Hondo apparently didn’t like the way I used my spurs and he started to crow hop and gave a little buck. I refused to put up with that kind of behavior. I pulled Hondo off the trail and started some simple reigning exercises to get his mind off the other horses and to get his mind back on working. He continually was testing me and kept trying to get his way. It took a good 15 minutes to get him to listen to my hands and legs.
Hondo loves being out on the trails and he gets excited at new trails. I found a trail (see picture below) leaving the main “Bridle Path” and decided to challenge him a little bit more to keep him engaged on me and not the other riders, hikers and bikers. The trail was uphill (there is a trail on the pic below!) and he would have to pay attention to his stepping.
At the top of the trail we went about 500 yards when Hondo decided he wanted to head back to the truck. He started backing up and kept trying to turn around. This is very UnHondo like behavior. He started little baby bucks and even went to rear a little bit. Hondo was having a temper tantrum. I wasn’t afraid of falling or anything, but I knew it was time to give Hondo’s brain a little rest. I dismounted and went to go sit on a nearby rock to eat my lunch. This was a good time to let Hondo settle down without me putting any demands on him. Hondo was in a timeout. He settled down pretty fast and started munching on some nearby dried grass. We sat there and enjoyed our lunch and the scenery for about 15 minutes. No one came past us as we were off the main trail.
I mounted up on Hondo knowing I did want to turn around and head back. It was getting hot and after wrestling with Hondo, I was getting tired. I did not head back down the trail because I was not going to let Hondo have his way. We went up the trail for about a quarter of a mile and Hondo was being nice and calm. I turned him around and the ride back was much more pleasant. I was able to relax and take some pictures of the scenery (see below). Hondo was even calm passing the riders, hikers and bikers once we hit the main trail again.
And finally we arrived…….
A bad day of riding, is still better than no riding:)