In which Fiddle and I are a tow vehicle for a young horse friend

Today was Mateo's first experience on a proper Swampland trail ride.

The day didn't start smoothly for Mateo and Jennifer: he refused to load into the trailer. Sigh. Have we all been there? Did we all hate that part? Aren't we all glad when our horses finally learn how to put on their adult horsie pants and get into the dang trailer like civilized beasties?

Fee and I were already at the trailhead when Jennifer called to say that they would be late. No problem, said I. I was dressed for rainfall (oh yeah), and took Fiddle out for a quick speed-loop to get her settled down.

We were returning to the trailhead just as I got the call from Jennifer that the "miracle" had happened and her horse was in the trailer. Hooray!

When they arrived, Mateo was very, very nervous. He was pretty sure that the group of trail riders leaving the trailhead as they pulled up were leaving him All Alone for the Wolves.

Finally, Fiddle nickered to him and he settled down. I was still really glad when Jennifer grabbed her helmet and strapped it down tightly. Goooooooood girl! No brain-injuries wanted here, thanks!

We headed out on the trail. I chose a "baby loop" that I had used for Fiddle--can it be less than 3 years ago? The trail is about 3 miles long, and has some uphills, some downhills, some deep mud, a big creek crossing, two wooden bridges, and some nice twisty-turny trail through a 3-year-old clearcut.

Mateo got stuck on the downhill. Fiddle and I waited at the bottom while Jennifer tightened her cinch and walked him down the steepest part of the hill, past the broken waterbar that seems to freak out young horses. Fiddle hated that thing for years.

When we got to the creek, Fee and I waded in, and waited patiently with the camera ready for Mateo's first big water-crossing.

He was incredulous.
Walk in that? Are you kidding? That is sooooooo dangerous!
Fiddle called to him quietly, trying to reassure him. He couldn't believe that she would just stand there in the middle of the creek and not lead him back to his trailer!

See, this stuff is not for walking.
This stuff is for drinking. Not the same.

If not forward, perhaps backwards?

Finally, Fee and I waded back across the creek, and I took hold of the leadrope. With Fiddle leading, me pulling, and Jennifer cueing with her feet, Mateo finally went in the water.

Oh, hey. Lookit me. How the heck did I get here?

On the trail back to the parking lot, we let him use the bridge to cross the creek. He liked that much better.
I was so proud of them! He's going to be an awesome trail horse.

I was also very proud of Fiddle. Once she understood the assignment "take care of the baby", she did well.

Okay, she pinned her ears at him a couple of times, and I had to poke her with my spur to remind her to have good manners.

But she also let him walk right beside her and even right behind her when he got nervous. That's big progress for Miss Gigantor!

Life is good, you know.


  1. If we believe our horses, the entire world is just one huge series of horse-eating objects. That's cool that Fiddle took care of Mateo like that.

  2. Nice that Fiddle was able to help out!

  3. nothing is prettier than a misbehaving arab: )

    you guys look wet! we could sure use some of that here. i swear we've had a few MINUTES of rain in the last two months, and nothing but sunshine for the rest of april and may. my rain barrels are long empty, and i hate using city water for the garden. however, hay farmers made their first cutting this week! it's a beautiful time. but really, for my birthday, i'm hoping god gives us a little rain.


  4. Good boy! Matheo! Good girl, Fiddle! What an exciting first trail experience for Matheo--looked like all in all it was a positive event. I'm working up to the same kind of outing with Beth...

    wv = procc ="That creek is sure to be filled with proccs and maligators!"

  5. what a good girl :) Yes I agree with Leah, if we let them be in charge they would swear everything in the world was a panther !

    We have nothing but rain and swampy trailes for months! I am so so tired of it ! I am ready to move SOUTH!

  6. Yay for Fiddle and yay you! Made me smile seeing that huge grin on Jennifer's face once she and Mateo were in the creek. What a great acomplishment, and they couldn't have got there without your support and help. Mateo is gorgeous! And Fiddle is looking sleek and shiny.

    That steep hill looked slick with mud. Especially when it ends in the creek. lol!
    This time of year in our area our big obstacles are loose rock on steep hills.


  7. What a brave horsie is Mateo! My filly is at a similar stage as he, and when she got to our river the first time and saw her Fiddle, a mare name Windy, wade out into the water she was amazed. The look of shock on her face was priceless, but then she went in and realized that she could splash in the water and was so pleased with herself. I was so proud of her that I was grinning from ear to ear.

    Experienced baby sitters like Fiddle and Windy are wonderful. Friends such as you and Jenny (Windy's mom) who patiently help those of us with greenies are, as the credit card commercial says, priceless!

    I blogged about it here: There's even video. Isn't the internet wonderful?

    Jenny and Windy have lots of experience with endurance rides. I hope to take India next year on a ride-and-tie when she's five and I've built back up to running great distances. Why, oh why, did I ever quit? *g* Anyway, that's our plan and that's what led me to finding your blog in the first place.

  8. Ah, that darned water crossing! Brandy has had issues with that one in the last year. She had never given me too many problems before. She has been better about it this year though!
    Glad Mateo made it through, with help from Fiddle of course!

  9. What's a waterbar?

    Mateo's beautiful! He's not a full Arab, is he? So tall!

    Congrats to Fiddle for moving up to being a babysitter! Quite an accomplishment.

  10. Lytha: we're good on rain. Want some? Trade you for hay...!

    Funder: a waterbar is an impediment placed across the trail that will theoretically guide water off the trail.

    IRL, a water bar allows water to erode soil away from the uphill side of the impediment, creating a tripping hazard and often creating a worse water condition than existed without the bar in place.

    The bar that Mateo disliked is typical: it was originally buried, quickly eroded and became un-buried, then became a trip hazard, and finally broke. Now it's just weird looking and does nothing but scare baby horses!

    This creek crossing is badly designed. I could reroute it and fix it given 2 or 3 days and 4 people with shovels (or a DitchWitch D650 for about 2 hours). Without that effort, it will continue to be a slick, eroded, muddy mess. Sigh.


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