This blog has MOVED!

Please visit for the most updated content. All these posts and more can be found over at the new URL.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Tess's first trail ride

I'm scared to look at the number of unread posts in my google Reader so I've decided to avoid it.

Tess went on her first trail ride today.  At 8 1/2 months it's time she started learning about her job as my trail dog.

Was it possible to have a dog more stupid about horses?  Probably not.

Tess thus far, with the exception of a certain German Shepherd she shares a house with, is blissfully ignorant of the darker side of life.

Everything is greeted with a certain exuberance and glee that only a puppy leading a very sheltered life could have.

Farley, thank the heavens above, is very very good with dogs.  Exceptionally tolerant - but also not afraid to bowl them over if the situation comes up.  I've never seen her take an aimed kick at a dog unless it was actively harrying her and being aggressive.

Even so, Farley was reluctant to share our anniversary ride with this white furry little hair ball who didn't have the good (and healthy) sense to stay out of her way and kept trying to sniff her at every opportunity and treating her like a play mate - bowing and ruffing.  

In fact, I was pretty sure I was going to be bucked off by the way she kept humping her back and shaking her head.

Now - I'm sure some of you might be asking the wisdom of putting a saddle on her for the first time in WEEKS and planning on both riding one handed and handling a rope attached to a puppy in the other.  I assure you that this was a perfectly fine idea.

Tess did very well.  Stayed at Farley's shoulder, did not pull on the leash, and everyone seemed rather happy about the situation, once the few tense minutes in the beginning were over.  Because of where I ride next to a road, the kind of neighborhood and people about, along with the livestock, being on a leash is a fact of life for Tess at the point.  However, Tess did SO well staying with Farley and not pulling, I foresee being able to take her off leash when the trails are safe - apparently me mounted on horseback makes me MUCH more interesting than when I'm on foot. 

And then we discovered the first rule about introducing dogs to horses.  They have to get stepped on.  The HAVE to.  I knew it was going to happen.  My hope that was without shoes on Farley's feet, on soft ground, and controlling some of Tess's movement to increase the chances of it being a "glancing" blow, rather than a "crunching, smooshing" one, I would end up with a more wary, but intact puppy.

I growled at her for crossing front and getting to close to the fronts, but all of a sudden she did a half turn to the inside to sniff something really good and BAM!  A hind leg knocked her sprawling as it came forward and she came up yelping, holding one back paw up like the drama queen she is.

Nothing broken, no harm done, and Tess looked at Farley with a healthy dose of suspicion after that.  Thank goodness.  Tess the all-too-bold-puppy could use a dose of caution.

We all got back safe and sound and while Tess isn't ready for the big time of a full conditioning ride - neither are me and Farley.  Thank goodness for horses that neck rein, are good with ropes and dogs, and put up with their riders silly antics.  And thank goodness for puppies that eventually grow up to be dogs. 


  1. Amen.

    I'm glad your ride went well.

  2. Yay yay yay yay yay!

    Someday I'd like to go back to having a dog alongside when I take a slow/easy trail ride (or when I'm out marking trails for an endurance ride, which is a slow-moving enterprise). Alas, I currently have the wrong horse AND the wrong dogs...!

  3. Our lodge dog used to go out on rides with us, but she plays out before we get done riding now, so she is happy to stay home (10 yo now)on her nice memory foam pad. When she was young and we introduced her to the horses, it was the same puppy antics and we had the same wishful thinking of a 'small' step or kick. However, our trusty steeds were sooo calm with her being puppy, they let her claw their faces, jump at them, etc. and not make a move; so, Bill waited until said puppy turned her head away and gave her a healthy boot-to-the-side. She did think his horse did it and she was much more careful, becoming a wonderful trail dog who followed the same voice commands our horses do. We've had many a car stop for pictures because we would be waiting at the edge of the road to cross, and lodge dog would be sitting at attention at Ranger's back heels. Good dog, good horses.
    Bionic Cowgirl

  4. Allenspark - what a story! Those truly were (are?) gentle horses! Farley is tolerant but her benevolence only extends to the dogs not interfering with her "job".

    I really like riding with a dog, but a dog that isn't a good trail dog just makes me really anxious. I'm hopeful that keeping Tess under control for the first couple of rides, combined with all the other work we are doing, will pay off in a dog that is a pleasure to take with, rather than a stress.

  5. Wow. I never got the hang of having a dog on lead while I was on a horse - but then again, I am a pretty terrible leash trainer.

    The first kick is invaluable! Cersei got trotted on by Champ when she, for some reason known only to her, decided to stop dead and roll directly in his path. God bless Labs; they're just not real bright.

  6. Tess is 99% there when it comes to leash work so it worked out OK. She was actually better on the leash while I was mounted - which is strange because she was in a new place with plenty of "sniffables" - but I'm not questioning it :). She has to spend so much time on a leash due to going to school with me - I guess it was one of those things that she HAD to get good at ASAP since it annoys me so much to have a dog that pulls.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.