Monday, October 28, 2013

The Great Migration, Part 2

The Great Migration, Part 2

Walking the route to the tarting point.

The vast majority of the parade photos were taken by Phillip Takahashi, husband to Sarah Takahashi who owns the mustangs Gypsy Rose and Satin.  Big thank you to him for walking the route with us and taking the pictures.

Please note, I've had Opal 4 months now.  This was a lot to ask of her, or any horse.  I have been in training and riding my whole life.  I know how to read my horses, how to talk to them and I do my very best to avoid or get out of bad situations safely for everyone involved.  This is not something I would do with just any horse.  Opal has a great spirit and mind and we have a very strong bond.  Without proper time and training spent with a horse, taking them out to a parade can be very risky, even for me.  Please use extremely good judgement or ask for help when considering parades, they are a lot for any horse to take in. 

Day 54:

Opal decided she wasn't going to get into the back of the trailer, so I tried the middle of the trailer, and she wasn't having that either.  We tried several things for a long while, including tapping her on the hind with a whip.  She was planted, although I did get complemented on how desensitized she was, even if it was playing against us at the moment.  Eventually she went in, but the delay meant most of the prep would have to happen at the start line while we waited for our turn to enter the parade route.   Pulled up to the Parade ending point to see hot air balloons taking off on the other side of the building from where we were unloading.  Turns out the humans were more concerned about them and what the horses would do than the horses were of seeing and hearing them.  We were a dozen plus mustangs strong, some owners in costumes, some in regular riding gear, and some in their authentic garments or spiritual.  This was the 75th year of the Nevada Day's parade, so that's whoat I based Opal's get up on, while I went more like a show girl, without wearing so little I'd freeze my tail off.

Objects are closer than they appear.

 Getting Opal ready.

 Marialaina in her jingle dress (left), Willis and mustang Trooper as Swamp Thing (center), and Amigo and Greg as the Sheriff (right).

Opal only stopped to look at one thing on the route, an announcer's booth.  It had banners hanging from it and it caught her eye, so I walked her over.  She wasn't sure what to think at first, but once she saw kids up there, all she wanted was for them to pet her.  She got love from a few kids along the way, which made her really happy.  Then I heard Greg (walking his mustang Amigo) and Marialaina (who was walking her mustang Sancho) shout that there were motorcycles coming.  A dozen cop bikes to be exact.   I thought for sure, if Opal or the other two mustangs were going to freak, this was going to be it.  Nope, not a single care was given by any of them.  YAY! 

 Banners, kids, and motorcycles...oh my!

Once we reached the starting point for the parade, I finished getting Opal's decor on her.  She was quiet the whole time.  During the parade they were having mock bank robberies, with 'gun' fights going on.  Opal didn't seem to mind the noise much.  Kids in costumes, bands playing, balloons, or floats didn't seem to bother her one bit.  I figured I'd jump up on her and sit in the tack while we waited, get a feel of how she was going to respond to me with all this going on.

Opal wasn't a huge fan of the feather in her forlock tickling her ears.

We were at the start line by about 9:30a.m., the parade started at 10, I think it was about 11:30 when we finally got on the parade route.  As the called us up to the starting line, Opal was still being calm so I decided to see how she would do walking past the line of floats we had to pass to get on the route.  She looked for a horse who knew its way and fell into place, I was still riding her.

Our parade group.

We stepped out onto the parade route.  Opal's ears perked, she lifted her head, and started breathing in deeper.  She wasn't sure what to think.  I was talking to her, using the clicker when she was being good, calming and reassuring her while at the same time reassessing our situation.  We were stopping about every 10 feet it seemed while we got our pacing down with the float ahead of us.  I ride with my lead rope tied to my horn with an emergency release knot.  We had walked one block when I pulled the knot and made the decision to dismount the next time we stopped.  Tami Daniels, who was walking her mustang Ranger next to us, asked if I was ok, and I told her I was going to get off.  About two seconds later, Opal did the most amazing thing, she settled into the line up and walked along like it was no big deal.  She figured out what was going on, and I didn't get off.  I spent the next few blocks riding her, giving her a job; bending her left or right, circling her, and other things.  About half way through the parade I was able to give her a little more slack in the reins, hold them in one hand and wave to the crowd.  Opal took everything in stride.  The only time she reacted was when a motorcycle cop started his bike up one horse over form her, but even a few of the seasoned parade horses reacted to that.

I gave Opal lots of praise, reassurance, a few treats and used the clicker attached to my saddle to let her know she was doing great.  The more I let her know she was doing good, the more relaxed she became.

On the parade route.

Opal was doing so well that when we stopped, I braved taking one picture with me phone.

All the California mustangs did great, as did all the mustangs in our group.  Each one proving how versatile they can be.  I'm beyond thrilled with how every one of them did, and blown away by my girl.

 Greg and Amigo (left), Marialaia and Sancho (center), Tami and Ranger (right).

I received several complements about our progress, my training, and while they want to give me the credit, I know we are a partnership, we are stronger together than apart.  In thinking back on the day I went to see her and reliving that day with my Mom, Opal kept seeking me out, I kept getting drawn to her.  She found me, we connected from the start.  Ehawee found me as well, and I'm blessed to have two wonderful mustangs in my life.

Part 3, LRTC play day coming shortly.


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