Training Calli – Breakthrough!

Calli and I have been having a tough time lately.  I have been busy working on projects and just wasn’t making progress (read – wasn’t riding).  I finally broke down and hired a friend to do some training with her.  The first ride went well and the trainer agreed that Calli has potential and is willing to learn.  The second ride – Calli was lame.  This was a lameness in her back/SI joint area.  I saw the exact same lameness in her last fall after a few days of harder work.

In frustration, I actually listed her for sale on a Facebook group.  Of course, when I read my own ad, there is no way I would buy her.  I guess that’s why no one was interested.

So, I had some massage work done on her, which helped some.  Then a Chiropractor came to visit.   I hope she appreciates her spa treatments…

Tonight, I took her out for a ride.  My instructions from the Chiropractor were to take it VERY easy.  That was my plan.

About 7, I left for a trail ride.  Alone.  Just before dark.  Without my trail pack/saddle bags.  Without a trail map.  Calli. Ok, it doesn’t sound so smart when I write it down.  I did wear my helmet, protective vest, and did let some friends know I was going with a return by time.

So, with Calli’s Easy Boot Gloves on front and back, we headed out and decided to scout a different trail that we hadn’t ridden before.  Did I mention this was the first time I had ever ridden Calli on the trail by herself?  It turns out, turning right, instead of left is not a good plan.  We ended up on what is probably the most technical trail I have ever ridden on.  I know it was the hardest trail Calli had ever been on.  We definitely couldn’t go faster than a walk, because it was extremely rocky.

Calli was AWESOME.  She got nervous a couple of times, but trusted me and kept going.  There was one point we when she was clearly too nervous about crossing some large rocks, so I hopped off and she followed right behind me.  Then we started climbing a hill.  This is when it got interesting.  We had been riding for about 30 minutes.  I was pretty sure I knew that we could keep going and connect to trails that would bring us home.  Or go back through all the rocks.  The problem was, if I was wrong, we were going to be out in Pachaug after dark without all the things I mentioned earlier.  So, on we went.

Once we got to the peak, the trail became more open and only average rocky instead of crazy rocky.  I gave Calli some rein and she picked up a trot!  That was a very good sign because I was worried the rock work might have been too much for her to handle.  As it was starting to get dark, I discovered Calli was unsure about going down rocky hills in the shadows of dusk.  Not wanting to push things too far, I just jumped down and we jogged down the trail.  It was actually good for me to stretch my legs.  Eventually, I recognized the trails and we connected back to the gravel road leading towards home.  Based on Calli’s nervousness in the quickly fading light, I decided to just ride the road home.  We had enough success for the day.  Calli was feeling very good and kept trotting down the road.

Overall, I was thrilled with the ride.  First, Calli was completely sound.  I guess the chiropractor visit did some good.  Additionally, she was a champ on some very challenging conditions.  I did learn a few lessons and I don’t think I will be trail riding without my pack again. I also plan to add a few things to the pack just in case something happens and I get stuck out after dark – headlamp, reflective vest, snack food, etc.  I’m looking forward to another ride this weekend!

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