Back to School, Join Up, and a Solo Ride!

I'm officially back on campus!

My new roommate and I are getting along well and having fun. :)  Our room is coming together nicely.  I won't post pictures yet because it's not quite done.  I just got the last of my stuff from my uncle's house last night.  It's not quite unpacked yet.  I'll hopefully be finishing that tomorrow after I pick up some Command strips to hang my posters and hooks. Yay! lol

Seriously though, I'm loving being back on campus.  I've already had a couple of unsatisfactory experiences with the financial aid office, but it's being taken care of.  I swear, every year, it's always something!  But...*deep breaths* will be ok.  

Anyway...let's go back in time for a minute.  I promised you I would be writing about my adventures of the past week or so. :)

Last Thursday:

*If you click on the pictures, you can see the larger versions.* 

I got done with work early because my brother had an orthodontist appointment, and both boys went with their dad to that.  They wouldn't be back until my mom was home from work, so I got a hold of a friend for a ride (you know who you are...thank you!!!) and headed out to the barn on my own around two.  She dropped me off and went on to her weekend destination - horseback riding at Spruce Knob.  Jealous!!!

But I got to spend the rest of the day with my horse by myself.  It. Was. Amazing. 

I spent the first 45 minutes or so just grooming him to perfection and spoiling the heck out of him.  Seriously.  He was shiny and bright and clean by the time I was done.  He got his mane and forelock braided.  The burrs are starting to get bad, and he seems determined to shove his entire head into every patch of them that he can find.  When I was out there the week before, I spent what seemed like forever separating them all out of his mane, and he'd looked like a unicorn with his forelock all burred up and sticking straight out from his forehead.  

He wasn't quite that bad this time, but I braided him anyway as a precaution because I know it's only going to get worse.  The B.O. usually doesn't have time to get them out herself, and I'm not there enough in the fall to get them out every day.  It usually results in him getting the really bad tangles just cut off, and I'd rather that not happen this year.

After the grooming session, I lunged him for a bit without tack.  He was very good, and other than a little bit of head tossing in the very beginning, he listened really well.  Usually it's really difficult to get him to trot on command, but he started doing it today.  In the past, he's sped up for a few strides and dropped back to a walk soon after.  I always have to stay after him, and he gets ticked off about it.  Today though, he trotted when asked, and kept doing it until I asked him to stop.  *squeal!*

  And......drum roll please...


After lunging him for about ten minutes, he suddenly dropped his head low.  He'd been paying attention and had that inner ear fixed on me the whole time and had been licking and chewing for a while as well.  So when he dropped his head, it took me a second to register what that meant.  I wasn't trying to join up, just to get a good lunge session in.  But that was what he was telling me he wanted to do, so when he kept his head down for another circle, I turned sideways to him.  He stopped and immediately walked to me.  

For those who don't remember or know what join up is...refer back to this post from last year.

I was so excited and happy, that I just ended the lunging session there. Haha.  For the rest of the day, when he wasn't on his lead, he followed me around like a puppy.  When I led him back over to where he'd been tied, he followed me back with his chin on my shoulder.  It's so different for him, that I was on Cloud 9.  :D

I had planned on trying a solo ride since I had so much time that day.  But before I tried that, I wanted to lunge him with his tack to get out any issues he had with it.  I used Chelsea's western saddle instead of my bareback pad because it's a lot safer, and I was taking all precautions.  I packed a lead rope and water and a granola bar (in case of blood sugar sometimes drops for seemingly no reason) in my saddle bag.  With all of this finally on him, I took him out and lunged him again.

Surprise!  When I asked him to go into a trot that was a little more brisk than he was currently at, he cantered!  He NEVER canters on the lunge for me.  I wasn't even going to ask him to until he had done the trot a few different days for me and made sure it wasn't just a fluke.  But he did it anyway.  And he didn't seem to mind it until I stopped him and sent him out again and asked for it.  Then he got kind of irritated and bucked a few times.  I reprimanded him, and he trotted away and to the other side of the paddock. -_-

I made myself stay calm and went to get him, collected the line as I went.  I brought him back over and asked him to trot again.  He was fine and eager to please again, but I didn't ask him to canter this time.  I wanted to end the session on a good note and didn't want him worked up before we rode, so I only asked for the trot.  He was fine, and after a few circles, I allowed him to stop.  

I mounted and asked him to go through the gate that he had problems with at the beginning of the summer.  He walked through without a problem.  I took him out to the road and headed to a trail in the woods that was shown to me at the beginning of the summer.  It's the third time I've been on it, but I love it.  It's my favorite trail so far.  There are a lot of low-hanging branches, so there's never a dull moment.  You have to constantly be prepared to shove them out of the way.  

And Orion likes to try to clothesline me on all of said branches.  He only really tried it once that day.  I ended up spitting out leaves because he suddenly broke into a trot right before we reached it.  I ducked, but still ended up with the branch in my mouth and a mouthful of leaves when we emerged on the other side - where he promptly dropped back to a walk. 


Once he got over being jumpy about the dogs the came with us ranging through the woods on either side, he relaxed and really seemed to enjoy himself.  I was kind of surprised that he seemed more confident and willing to move out than he ever has when there are other horses around.  He willingly trotted on our ride, just like he had while lunging.  He actually wanted to speed up on his own a couple of times, just for the heck of it.

Once we got back, I untacked him and went to get a bucket of water.  It was really hot, and he's out of shape.  He was pretty sweaty. Haha.  As soon as he couldn't see me anymore when I went for the water, he began whinnying.  After I had the bucket filling, I stepped out around the tree that was blocking him from me and looked across the yard at him.  He was on high alert watching me, but as soon as he could see me again, he calmed down and was quiet.  I stepped back over to turn the water off and collect the bucket, and he immediately began whinnying again.  Once more, as soon as I began crossing the yard with the bucket and he could see me, he was fine.  I felt special.

The farrier came out to trim him again.  Orion was perfect for him.  I'm definitely keeping this guy as his normal farrier.  He's the only one Orion has liked and behaved for consistently so far.  So three farriers later, I've finally found one!  And O's feet are slowly returning to a normal look.  At least on the bottom.  They still don't "pancake" out like most others I've seen, but I'm confident that in a few more months with regular trims, they will.  

So that sums up my day alone with Orion.  A lot happened, and it was so much fun and so rewarding!  I can't wait to do it again.

More stories next time!


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