Today was Zorro’s first day pulling the Hyperbike! It was so exciting to hitch him to the bike. I could hardly wait to do it!
He was awesome, as expected. He walked right up to it, smelled it, as I teach them all to do as part of targeting and positive reinforcement. This is a great way to allow them to be a part of the entire harnessing and hitching process. Then he stood perfectly while I hitched him to the bike.
I didn’t get straight on because I usually walk along with him a little bit when I hitch something new to him so I did that briefly and then hopped on!
My oldest son did some videoing for me and we made this video showing Zorro being hitched and then driven for the first time in the bike!
In the video I talk a little bit about my traces and shaft loops. I had the shaft loops lowered for the travois, but they need to up higher to perfectly balance my bike. Then in order to have the shaft loops hang nice and straight and not pull forward on the saddle all the time I have to move my ponies forward in the shafts of the bike so I use a large pony set of traces, 63″ long. The shorter traces put them too far back which makes my shaft loops have to stretch forward to the shaft stops and puts the gig end of the shafts too far forward on their shoulder, causing some rubbing on my collar and then the gig end of the shaft kind of jabs them in the shoulder when they turn. So moving them forward in the shafts solved that, but did make my footman’s loops be a little bit further back than I like. But at least the bike is light weight!
Here is a picture of Zorro in the bike with the shorter traces, at the top, and then with the longer traces, the bottom photo.
In the bottom photo you can see how nice and straight the shaft loops hang and how the gig end stops at the buckle instead of forward on his shoulder. Perfect! It does mean there is a little more room between his butt and the front of the seat. This will be fine most of the time… today it was tricky which I’ll talk about soon!
Off we went! I do get out and walk with him because I want to get exercise too and he needs to move forward in his training. Plus I am planning on doing lots of mountain driving this summer and some of the trails have big boulders and very steep sections so I’ll have to get out and walk those. He may as well get used to me doing that now!
**This is one of the times that I will say “Do as I say not as I do!!” Certainly if you are driving a big horse do not ever get out of the cart and walk along with the horse. It is safer and you have more control over a horse when driving, if you stay in the cart. I will just continue to get in the bike and ride and get out and walk when I want to climb a steep hill or climb mountains, but I really encourage you to stay in your cart when driving…
We walked 5 miles today for a total of 65 miles since January 2nd! And when I rode in the cart Zorro did tons of trotting. He was sweaty when we got home!
When we got to the top of the hill Zorro and Samson posed for a photo:
Then we started back down the hill! On the steep parts I did get out so he wouldn’t have a hard time on the snow and ice. But at the bottom of one of the steep hills I got back in the bike and off we went! Zorro was trotting along and then started cantering along. He was doing so awesome! Just floating along. Samson had run up the side of the embankment and I called him back so he wouldn’t pop out of the trees ahead of us and scare Zorro, as he sometimes does, and when Samson came back onto the road with us, Zorro gave a sassy toss of his head and then kicked out in glee! Which normally wouldn’t be a horrible deal, not something I want any horse to do in harness of course, but because I’m not quite close enough with my bike set up he nearly kicked me right in the face!!! I think this is an accurate tracking of this…
Of course I made him walk immediately and he had to haul my a$$ up the steep hill at a walk in the snow! That’ll teach him. LOL.
He has not kicked out in the travois or in the sled and we’ve done cantering in both. So it was surprise. And not something I want to have happen again! We will be doing lots of cantering in a controlled environment to help ensure that it doesn’t.
Please understand that I do tons of ground work and preparation so this type of thing doesn’t happen and yet sometimes these things happen! I am committed to sharing every part of the journey, even when it’s not a flattering part. Immediately after the kick out I told him to walk and he did as soon as I asked. He didn’t argue or try to run off. He was bright eyed and happy to drag me up that steep hill in the snow and then we did lots of trotting and cantering after and he was great. Just be prepared for things to go a bit crooked sometimes. Don’t get mad, just move on! (Though I will admit that I was muttering under my breath and called him a jerk after the incident…)
It was such an awesome day! So so much fun. I’m so darn proud of Zorro and all he has accomplished this month. We will continue on with the bike and I’ll pepper in some sledding and some travois stuff here and there as well. May as well keep him guessing!