Thursday, June 30, 2011
I have been reading blog after blog, Facebook entry after Facebook entry. All these rescues, begging for someone to volunteer to adopt a horse/dog/cat/goat, all so they can find a better home than slaughter/euthanasia. They're touching, really. Some of them, it looks like the horse is young, slightly underfed, and eager to get a bit of human attention.
So I started looking at the rescue websites. Okay, I was nearly obsessing over them, you can ask my close friends. I was looking at the listings, thinking, 'Oh that one has a cute kind eye' or, 'Wow, she's pretty!' My clicker mouse then wandered to their adoption processes, forms, applications, paperwork.
Shocker, dude. These rescues, and I've seen a few of them, keep their horses in little paddocks, or over packed pastures. They eat well, but very little or none of that eating is natural grass (there's none left). Most are getting decent vet care. Is it top of the line? Nope. Some will hand walk a colicy horse for 6-8 hours or "just watch 'em" rather than haul to or call out the vet.
The requirements to adopt from these places astound me. Certain kind of netting fence (no barb wire, no hot wire, please). Run-in shed of three walls minimum, but 12x12 individual stalls preferred. Vet reference, friend reference, and unannounced visits to make sure you're doing exactly what you said you'd do with little Fluffy Pony P.
Ouch. My fence is 2-strand hot wire (never had a run through, thank you very much), with two sides of the (multi-sided, odd shaped) property barb wire. Why? Because the neighbors outside of those wires own cattle, that are completely ignorant of hot wire. They own the posts, they own the fencing. I don't see them too appreciative if I go sticking wire atop it, cutting out brush to keep it "hot", accidentally tearing apart their weak 5-strand in the process (the cows think it's tough, and I won't show them otherwise). One of my stalls is solid plywood and aluminum walls - 24/7 in out access (Harley!). The other, across the lane, is pipe welded fence, but walled with tarps, only to keep the rain & cold out (Romeo), still 24/7 in out access. The third little pasture plot I've got fenced off has shady trees, but no shelter.
Automatically disqualified. What a shocker. I kept reading more ads for folks trying to rehome out "good horses that just need love". I look at the conditions they're kept in, many without shelter, weak fence that a herd battle could tear down, entirely too many equines crammed into little dry lots. How on earth does this make my pasture any less acceptable? Even in the drought we're in, I still have grass. My horses are fat&sassy (I recently put Harley and Romeo on diets, cutting off Mo's hay and he's down to 0.5scoop of 12/8; Harley is on 1scoop 12/8, hay about once a day, sometimes twice.. and I cut his Cool Calories out). Yeah, we had to go on DIETS in a DROUGHT at my house. Not one horse has come to my house fat&sassy, but they all end up that way. That's not by accident, either.
I'm frustrated, and a little bit disgusted. What made them so high and mighty to determine that only the perfect homes are good enough? Is it truly better that the horses be stuffed into little dry lots with uncertain budgets and subsequent feed? Or would my little third lot, fencelined with Harley and my side yard, trees for shade and shelter, cows' fence barrier for about three fence-posts' worth, really be better?
We set the saddle on his back under a borrowed pad. (A "Won Pad", by the way, which was wool on top, thick neoprene on bottom. I was not impressed, it didn't bend or give, and Harley sweat in a weird pattern in it.) The saddle looked to fit all around. Steady in his shoulders, even across his back, and looked to be comfortable. Again, I sent Harley out on the line. Quiet still. No overreaction, no resistance to the circle, no buck or fight.
Another prayer, helmet, and bit. And I hopped on. First thing I did, of course, was flex his nose side to side. Saddle owner asked, "So which natural horsemanship star do you follow?" I told her, "A little of all of them. Some are too weak, and some chase them too hard. I'm in the middle." I shared that I was on the HorseMaster show with Ransom, and got some "oohs and ahhs" for that. "Wow! That's really cool!" Harley and I flexing the whole time.
I asked him to walk off. Now, I remembered, "Oh Crap! I didn't put him in his neck stretcher. Oh well. I will work for bending correctly and staying forward. We'll work on collection back home." To measure what kind of ride it would be, I shortened my reins at walk.
Instant collection. Harley dropped his head, tucked his nose, and relaxed. You've GOT to be KIDDING me?! Fantastic! I glowed in pride. This is MY horse! This is MY Hard work! All those hours at home repeating and repeating and, ... it's paying off. The ladies expressed their delight as he "is such a good boy". I pushed Harley up to the trot, and again, I was astounded. Nice forward gait, with a delightful bend. He fought staying out on the circle a little, and argued with me a little about collection. But not for long. I could NOT have asked for a better ride.
I dismounted, we took the saddle off, and Harley was huffin' and puffin'. It was well over 100F outside, and in the hottest sun of the day by then (near noon). We found a hose, sprayed him down, and walked him a little bit more. After the bath, Harley's breathing eased, and he relaxed. Before the bath, though, we looked at sweat patterns. Pretty good, except for a void in the middle of where the saddle sat - pad was too stiff, not enough give.
Overall, I could NOT have asked for a better set of horses on Saturday. The friend of the saddle owner told a story of a tragic horse vs. car accident she was in, and I could relate to every pain she described. After I rode both boys, back at the trailer exchanging payment for saddle and putting my things away, the friend said to me...
"You've inspired me today. I need to go easy, take my time, and get back to working with my horse. He's a bit older than your baby, but not as experienced. It's nice to know if I take my time, work hard, and don't push for trail work right now, I can have a horse like yours. Your riding was inspiring. You're obviously a very dedicated rider."
Wow... A complete stranger. Now, admittedly, she probably watches a lot of goofy trail riding folks that don't practice at home, ride nutty hot-blooded rockets, and don't ride but once a month or less. They probably stand in their stirrups, don't really ride, and bit the horses to the moon for brakes. But still.... I'm sure each of you has heard someone say something this to you once or more in your riding lives. I haven't.. That's the first time ever a complete stranger has had sweet things to say.
And I did it, On the horse that kicked me, and the Baby. The baby, who is normally scared of trees blowing, boogers in strange places, and wouldn't consider giving to the bit. The baby, who ran from me scared in the pasture less than a year ago. Absolutely incredible.
We've come so far, yet there's so far to go. I love dressage! :)
On the way up there, a trailer tire blew up. Crap! Luckily, R was able to pop it loose and replace with the spare in 15 minutes. Unfortunately, the fun didn't end there. We had to travel next to a gas station to re-inflate the spare and a tire already on the trailer. Luckily, Harley didn't panic trapped in the trailer with all the traffic whizzing by. Romeo got a little antsy pantsy, stomping a bit while the tire was changed. We were a bit late then arriving at the arena / round pen we were borrowing to test the saddle. The owner of it, as well as a friend of hers, were standing in the roadway waiting for us to direct us into the driveway.
Nice people, they were. I was flattered at how much they complimented Romeo and Harley. Neither horse had a bath, neither horse had been clipped, groomed, or anything more fantastic than manes and tails combed out and the dirt brushed off. I unwrapped legs, and listened intently as the two women discussed my horse's colorations, laughing inside. "Sometimes, the only thing wrong with a horse in the show pen, is he's the wrong color." HAH! Color was the LAST thing I cared about when I got these two, but they didn't know that yet.
We took both horses and all their gear to the round pen. R walked Harley around while I was warming Romeo up. My plan was to test-ride Mo first, let R expose Harley to the "scary new place", and allow Harley to see Mo "do his job without monsters eating him". Easy enough, right?
Romeo was a saint! For this I was extremely grateful, as the day before was a Mo-gallop day. Every time I squeezed a leg on Mo on Friday, it was Run Run RUN! I tried to wear him down, something I don't do too often, as every time he'd want to lope off, I'd push him into a quick canter, let him get quiet, push a little more, back to trot, back to walk. Ask for squeeze again, and if he'd take off, lather, rinse, repeat.
On Saturday, though, it was "game-on". I don't know how Mo knew, but he longed like an angel in just the rope halter and line, stayed loose, didn't try any wacky doo rollbacks. He started out very stiff, and I was concerned "did he get hurt when the tire blew"? But no, he was just stiff from standing still so long. This eased up some as he longed. I tightened the girth, attached bit and helmet, and prayed a little. "God, this is NOT a good time for Mo to toss a fit. Please keep him quiet, and me safe."
Again, he was amazing. He lightly settled into his nifty little western pleasure jog, nose down, relaxed. I forced him up into a canter just a circle each way, as the pen was a little too small for extended canter work. I was amazed at how light the canter was. Slow, cadenced, and quiet. Awesome. Romeo only worked for about 35 minutes, finishing up with some backups, turns on fore/haunches, and a hint of side passing.
I hopped down. Both ladies were stunned. The saddle owner said, "You need to start doing competitive trail with him, or your other horse for that matter. You've got quite the relationship with him. I can't wait to see what you've done with the younger one." The other lady there remarked, "That's some horsemanship. How long have you been riding?" Utter shock when I gave it up,, "Um, 8 or 9 years,, somewhere's in there."
Harley was up next. While warming Romeo up, Harley got a scare. R was out letting him graze, sniff, and explore, when suddenly, another horse from the land owner's herd came galloping up to him. They *almost* touched noses before I hollered to R what to do. He didn't quite react fast enough, but the saddle-owner ran over and helped him. Knowing what Harley had experienced already today - blown out tire, changing it on the busy highway, air station to reinflate tires, strange scary place, greeted aggressively by another strange horse... I was a little nervous, to say the least.
Thursday, June 23, 2011
06/16/11 - Birthday party, both horses off
06/17/11 - Harley in the AM, stiff, me very sore, saddle hunting in the PM
06/18/11 - Harley & Mo in the AM - Harley much better, Mo arena loose rein
06/19/11 - Mo early AM bareback pad around the neighborhood
Harley in the PM - Longe only
06/20/11 - Harley & Mo in the PM - Harley great, in fact, fantastic
Mo more loose rein arena, pretty nifty
06/21/11 - R and I travelled to Austin to visit a friend in the hospital.. Both horses off
06/22/11 - RAIN! Arena puddles, pasture puddles, pond back to 3/4 total full ... Both horses off
06/23 Tonight, we're getting a visitor for a long weekend, so I'm hoping after the intermittent work and breaks, Harley longe only.
06/24 Harley and Mo in the AM, followed by clip/bath/groom/laser sheen as appropriate
06/25 Should be (weather and all pending) a used saddle test ride on both, and, if successful, the end of my discomfort and soreness riding Harley in the western saddle.
Nothing much fantastic going on around the barn here. Thankful for the rain, even though it results in less riding.
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Additionally, a Momma doe and her twin babies were bouncing around the pasture. Momma and the twins have been bedding down near Harley's stall in the trees, so as we walked by heading to the arena, the babies bounced up into action. Momma led them around the tree line a while, but unfortunately for her, she got closer to the arena, not farther. Harley perked an ear their way when the babies sprinted out of the trees, bouncing around the pasture. No wild reaction, but fun to watch the twins play anyways.
Finally, in one of his "I don't wanna turn" moments, Harley and I met up with a snake! About two foot long, unidentified only because I didn't hang out long enough to ID. Snake was heading out of the arena, and I kept Harley down to the other end of the arena after we found him. No need meeting the slithery fellow again.
He was showing some signs of boredom, evident through his general lazy trot, unwillingness to turn on a large circle without drifting in or out. So, I figured I'd make things more interesting. Back to the walk to catch his breath, I turned him up a quarter line, and gently asked for a leg yield. After a little protest and certain confusion on his part, Harley gave a little yield to the rail. Perfect! We repeated this a few times each way at the walk, and each time got a better response.
I went back to the trot, and did serpentines and direction changes. Things got much, much better. With time, though, Harley got stubborn and bored again. I got a little brave, and bored myself. Decided to try the yields at trot.
Fantastic! Even better! With no hesitation, and a little leg, Harley immediately stepped over twice, yielding to the rail at trot. I was shocked. So shocked, in fact, I did it about a half dozen times each direction. I couldn't believe it went so well.
We ended the ride with turns on forehand , turns on haunches. I figured it was a good time to show him why he's been doing those things. His responses were amazing, again.
It's all in the saddle ... And I'm starting to feel like a heel for those nights I argued with him for so long in the dressage saddle, frustrated he wasn't responding or giving to contact.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
- Take Harley and his saddle to the shop in Houston. No go yet.
- Take him to a fitter now. Decided to wait for the master fitter that made the saddle in October.
- Huntseat until October. I got out my HDR Event saddle, and put it on him. On the longe line and neck stretcher, he has the same problem. Girth slides, and takes the saddle up with it. I haven't tried the other gullets, and I'll explain why below...
- Western until October. Probably the best choice for Harley for now.
- Bareback until October. *cough* Somebody needs more topline first, otherwise, we won't progress out of a walk. Ouch.
I was super frustrated Thursday night. HVAC repairs finally occurring around the house, I had two saddles out, and I tried the Mattes half pad with my dressage saddle (no go). I tried the HDR with the tacky pad, square pad, with and without the half pad. No go.
Friday, Saturday, and again Monday, we did hard work rides in the Western saddle. It fits him good - he moves out forward, he goes on light leg, he holds his gaits, and is back to collecting trot. The problem? It's a wide twist... It makes my upper legs spread, um, uncomfortably. Making matters worse, the leather fenders rub either jeans or breeches into my calves, and really make my inner leg unhappy, raw, and sore.
Sunday, I was pouty about it all. Frustrated. I waited all through the cooler "winter" recouperating. Now, I still can't ride dressage, for different reason. Sure, I could probably with a miracle sell every saddle I own, and buy a humdinger custom made dressage saddle for Harley. In this market, I'm not entirely convinced. The western saddle fits Romeo pretty darn good, and Harley's happy in it. I'm not happy in it , and that will show as the summer progresses riding two a day on the weekends, one a day on weekdays.
So , in my frustrating, Harley and I went for a walk. I got him loosened up enough to tighten the saddle, and off we went. Walk, halt, flex. Lather, rinse, pete. Fun enough. We met up with some deer running across the road, a roadrunner letting us know her displeasure we were in her field. Even got a little spook as a handful of deer scrambled away in the trees. Neighbors doing some construction, the tool sounds didn't bother him. Oncoming traffic didn't get his attention either. It was nice. Refreshing.
Additionally, I realized between Sunday and Monday, Harley is teaching me. little monster As it turns out, if my heels are down, and I'm sitting up right, chest up shoulders back, he collects in the walk and trot. If I slouch my upper body, relax my arms, and let those toes point down, he hollows out his back, and tosses his head up like a giraffe. Booger! I certainly didn't intend on teaching him that, but at least he gets right when I get right.. um, right?
I haven't given up hope on finding a fit solution. Still need to grab my few adjustable gullets out of the closet box, and set them on his back, see what's good and what might work. The true problem is the girth notch. The girth slides forward, and pulls the saddle along with it. I also may get some ambition and haul him to the saddle shop, let them take a look. I haven't decided yet.
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Longed free, he did good.
Longed neck stretcher, good too. Stiff heading right (?), but he is gradually improving.
Checked the saddle position and tightness before riding. Yup, saddle loose, slid forward. Undid the girth, slid it all backwards into place again, and retightened. As I mounted, I noticed the saddle moved left to right some. Eh, no big deal. We're not jumping anything, and I am not planning any sharp turns.
Harley started out at the walk and trot moving nice. Bending, giving, turning, and generally being decent. Not near as cooperative as the day before, but he was moving at least.
Within a matter of ten minutes riding walk and trot, I stopped him, and glanced down. Saddle had slid forward 2-3". Argh. I walked him back to the mounting step, took the saddle off, and set myself on his back, just the square and tacky pad beneath us.
Pushed him out to walk. He *Immediately* started to walk collected, didn't fight the bit, and took every bend and turn like a complete gentleman. Due to his *ahem* high withers and not 100% filled in topline, trotting was a bit out of the question. *cough* *ouch*
It's official. Either from new feet, or a saddle problem I've had all along and didn't realize it, we've got a fit problem. I'm scouring the Houston area for a temporary fit, maybe a patch-job with a pad or otherwise... I checked with Barb and the saddle company that made my dressage saddle should be in town for fittings in October.
I have a few choices here, and I'm up for suggestions. Mrs.Mom and I chatted this up a bit, and she offered hers already ... Thanks Momma!
- Take Harley and his saddle to the saddle shop in Houston I like. Ask them to take a look, see if we can pad it until October.
- Take Harley to a master fitter now. Problem is there, finding one. There are a few that "travel here", but I don't see anything on their calendars locally anytime soon.
- Hide the dressage saddle in the closet until October, making sure we're on the fitting calendar then. Get out the huntseat saddle, put on the proper gullet, and teach my hiney to ride hunter again
- Hide the dressage saddle in the closet until October, and go back to riding Western. Deep seat, easy body position, and hard to come out of if he spooks.
- Spend more hours bareback, with sufficient padding *cough*, and get Harley more used to my body movements.
What this does, for sure, unless I can work a quick miracle, is delay any dressage plans I might have had this year. Bummer, dude. Even if I did meet my 2011 goals, I really was hoping to school at a show this year. Just go, play, ride around, get Harley acquainted with the commotion. First, EHV-1 scrambled some plans. Now, saddle fit fried them. I feel like a chicken egg, ya'll. Just nobody flip me over and fry the other side too, hmm?
I rode him in his western saddle, still not so sure what to do with the dressage girth and saddle fit. I need to find a saddle fitter, I suppose, and get him and his girth looked at. See if there's something to be done there, or it's just general stubborn stiffness.
Longe was good. Neck stretcher is still improving. Canter is ickieyuck, but the trot is getting back to loose stretcher, relaxed and forward. Might need to start holding the longe whip in this hot weather to motivate.
I rode. Wow. Yeah, that walk, was forward(!) and ears all about. Much nicer. I gathered the reins, and he very quickly bent and gave to the bit. Woo hoo!
Trot work was much of the same. Anytime he strung out, stuck his nose out and head up, I turned. Circles, change direction, something. I don't think Harley got dizzy, but I wouldn't be too surprised if he told you he did. We sure did change direction a lot. Once or twice he misunderstood the leg cues to turn, and tried to spring up to canter. "Um, not yet, darling. I need your mind back at the trot before you can "Wheee!"
To cool down and catch our breaths, I worked on the beginnings of neck reining. You know, neck rein pressure, same leg pressure, indirect bit, all in order, and only if needed. Release all of them as soon as I get a hint of the right turn. He's getting it. I don't think this will be fast work since it's not a priority. It is a nice way to walk around and cool down though.
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Harley and I met up with Jen and we all ventured out to the arena. I've been having problems with the dressage girth sliding forward in our rides. We slid a sewn towel over the girth and tightened it up. It's not the saddle sliding, it's just the girth, and I am not yet sure if that's interfering with his ability to move out or not.
Neck stretcher was a little better, though still stickie/hangie
I hopped on. Harley immediately started doing what he had been the day before, leaning, hanging, and refusing to bend and give. Jen had a plan, and it ended up working.
Circles, big ones, little ones. Figure 8s, serpentines, direction changes galore. It took, um, 35 minutes, maybe even longer, mostly trot, a few walk breaks. Finally, Harley started to give in. He was bending nicely, in the middle instead of just at his neck. He started to give to the bit, and we had a little bit of collected work.
It was a challenge, and honestly, it hurt. I was sore as heck when we got done, and my arms were the worst. I did not have as many problems with my stirrups jumping off my feet (haha), and also noticed I was keeping my shoulders back/chest up for most of the work. Harley's lack of cooperation did make the riding difficult, so I must *patpatpat* myself on the back a little for sticking with it, and pushing through.
I rode last night. The real question is..
Did he learn his lesson?
I hopped on, and immediately noticed that "butt up in the air" feeling, like he was trying to be light on his back end. After about ten minutes walking, I noticed he'd settled down some.
What didn't settle? Bending, turning, and giving to the bit. I would try to ask nicely, with body and leg, followed by a little bit pressure, and usually had to resort to pulling his nose to the direction of the turn. I got lots of evasion, felt like he had his outside shoulder sticking out a lot. He wanted to lean on the rail a lot, and if I hadn't been concentrating, he might have run me into a post.
We did trot some, but he didn't bend, didn't give, and certainly didn't turn like I would've wanted. Much to work on, and we quit with me being a bit disappointed.
Monday, June 6, 2011
I got home, it was HoT HoT HoT. Okay, seriously, folks... 100F Plus. That's Too Darn Hot for ponies. I ate early, fed early, and longed later.
Me, sneakers, teeshirt, shorts, ball cap. Harley, pad, front legs polo'd, surcingle, longe line.
His free longe before bit/stretcher was stiff and hangie. How do I describe "hangie"? Leaning on my hands, head turned outside of the circle, generally pulling me anywhere he thought he could. I'd tug/release, but at one point, I had to use both hands and my entire upper body to get him off of me.
I put the bit/neck stretcher on, and sent him back out. He started out stiff, fighting the bit, leaning on the line, and short speedy strides. With time, and a little effort, he relaxed a while, got a decent bend, and lowered his head, moving forward.
Total longe, about 45 minutes. It was nice, much better than the week before.
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Here's what I see. Some rescue groups do good things. They rescue what look to be potentially suitable horses, rehab them, vet them, retrain, and find them good homes. That's great! Some are participating in things I don't quite understand. We've banned slaughter. It's currently "bad news" to slaughter a horse for someone in another country to eat it. Okay, fine enough. That means OwnerQ, who can no longer feed PonyM, is stuck with an animal they don't want. Animal Control and the FuglyPatrol pop in, call OwnerQ all kinds of names, and demand they surrender PonyM. PonyM gets fat at MiracleRescue, and all things are happy in the world. Great.. wonderful things being done.
Things get dicey, in my opinion, when we get OwnerX, who's bred a baby they can't care for. BabyD has a genetic deformation, born with a crooked leg, a bent up neck, malformed jaw, etc. BabyD doesn't have much hope of being more than a pasture ornament. What is OwnerX to do? Euthanize the critter? Wait, while they're trying to decide, here comes Animal Control and the FuglyPatrol again. Calling OwnerX all kinds of names, cursing, being generally obscene and obnoxious. MiracleRescue walks in the gate, and pOOf! There goes BabyD.
BabyD's picture pops up all over the internet, mostly in a request for fundages. MiracleRescue wants to "fix BabyD", but they need your help. That's it, ladies and gentlemen, dip in your wallets, hundreds are appreciated thanks. BabyD gets the food she needs, and MiracleRescue finds a way to turn her into a suitable ... Um... Grass mower.
BabyD is now advertised for adoption. That's right, folks! Now, today, for only $1000, you can own BabyD! She'll be a great addition to your farm, mowing the grass, and staring at you through the fence, nickering and screaming at you to be fed, trimmed, and vetted. What can you do with BabyD? You can give her food! And cookies! And comb her pretty mane, just do it gently, or her neck will hurt and she'll kick you into next week.
Meanwhile, PonyM sits in the field, wondering where his new Mommy is, because he used to carry little kids around. But MiracleRescue wants $2000 for PonyM, and you can't afford that up front. You can afford BabyD at $1000, but you can't spring for $2000 for PonyM from MiracleRescue. Why does MiracleRescue want so much for PonyM? They need the cash so they can go rescue more BabyDs.
I see a problem with this, obviously. Horses that could have a great life with a job, and a family to love and exercise them stand aside, waiting their turn, while horses that can't be ridden safely are promoted. I wish MiracleRescues spent more time on the PonyMs, and found them a good exercise rider, and humanely euthanized BabyD. Yup, I know, I'm a horrible murderer, and should be burned and beaten. Somehow, I suspect there are PonyMs all over the country, being euthanized by OwnerQs, that don't know what else to do.
I will now allow the flame throwing, and arguing to begin. I haven't done much blogging to this level of controversy, so I can only suspect what will happen. There are enough tag keywords here, I can just guess what crowd I'll assemble to attack me. Let the games begin...
Harley supervised from the trees. Okay, honestly, he was hiding from me. When I walked towards the barn with halter in-hand, Harley took one look at me, and walked off into the bushes. Excellent. I mean, it sucks he's walking away from me, but it was good to see him moving about.
Shorts, sneakers, and a bareback pad. Romeo and I worked on walking, giving to the bit, bending, and backing up. He had some good bends, and nice stride adjustments at the walk. We went down the road a little ways, and he was near insistent he go up NeighborTim's driveway. "Romeo! Dude! Pay atten.. oop!" That was me, barking at him when he spooked at who knows what. Monster... Anyways, after that, he decided my directional choices were a little better than his.
Back at the house, we worked on turns on forehand, turns on haunches, sidepassing. All good. A few backups, and I looked at the mini-ditch in the front yard. Hmm.. I wonder.. will he?
We walked in the ditch, out of the ditch. "Whoa" Stood there a second, and I backed him up right the way he came from. You what?! You backed your horse down a hill and up a hill in and out of a ditch?! Yup! Sure did! Mo fought the first time, and insisted that while backing into the ditch was easy, backing out of it not so much. He turned his hiney, and did it at an awkward angle. Realizing the third time I wasn't going to let him do more than straight forward, straight back, he gave up and politely backed up the mini hill.
Neat! Something else he may never need in his life, but we've got it now. I wonder what else we can learn staying around the house ...