We did have a great time. Winston and Flash did great, settling into their spacious pens under the rodeo booth with no drama whatsoever. We rode them everyday, sometimes twice, and there were wranglers practicing team roping in the evenings next to them. The cattle chute into the arena wrapped around their pens. They did not lack for entertainment or company.
|Flash and Winston are just beyond the horses in the pasture to the left of the rodeo tower.|
I was thrilled with Winston on the trail rides. Brett and I rode at the back of the group so we wouldn't interfere with the established dynamics of the Alisal string of horses. That worked out great. The groups varied from three to five riders so it wasn't like we were stuck in the boonies. Winston did everything I asked for with calm willingness: crossing water, crossing the big bridge over the dam -- even with cattle scurrying out from underneath when they heard the horses clomping above, trotting and cantering. He even stood quietly tied in a meadow with cattle wandering around while we had breakfast. Nothing fazed my boy. Well, almost nothing.
On Monday afternoon, we were out on our second ride of the day and the wrangler started out on another lope. I slid my foot back to cue Winston and he did the hoppy bucky thing trying to kick my foot from underneath with the opposite hoof. He got away from me for a stride and when I got him back, his head was even with Flash's saddle. Flash does not like to be passed -- especially at canter. He pinned his ears and cow-kicked sideways at Winston. He missed Winston. He nailed my foot. I muttered dammit dammit dammit for the next ten strides. It hurt a lot. When we got back to our room and I took the boot off, the front of my foot was black and blue. My big toe and the next two were swollen purple sausages. My big toe ended up with bruising but otherwise fine. The next two are broken. So, I squeezed my foot into my boot once a day after that for a ride and spent the afternoons with it elevated on a chair.
I had time to think about what happened and am pretty sure I know what is going on with Winston's complaints about how I cue canter. He has a very short back and I am quite certain that I am sliding my foot too far back. I have this tendency anyway and with a short backed horse... not good. So, lesson learned for me.
The only time that Winston spooked was when a heifer popped out of the tall grass and started trotting down the trail after us. I guess she wanted to join the ride. Winston didn't like that. He likes it when the cattle are in front of us, not behind. He cantered off but I never lost him and we were back in our place in line, calm and happy, before any of the other horses had time to react or catch his energy.
I expected Winston would do well but, as usual, he exceeded my expectations. Flash was perfect as well -- other than breaking my toes, that is.