Sunday, July 13, 2008

Exploring new trails from horseback!

This morning bright and early, I met Karen and Susie at the barn and we all went for a trail ride. We went for another long ride, and took a different way coming back. Usually on these longer rides we have to either take the bike path back under the road, or cross the road, neither of which Panama is all that crazy about. The new route takes us through the neighborhood, so that we don't have to do either.

My horse hit several milestones during our trail ride today:

* He's getting better about the whole manhole cover thing. With Susie and Karen leading on their horses, we made Panama walk next to every single manhole cover we saw. He still won't walk over them, but he'll at least walk by them without staring at them and acting alarmed.

* He led quite a bit. Panama usually follows, partly because I don't know the trails as well as my riding mates do, and partly because he seems to like the security of following another horse. Today, though, he led for perhaps a third of the ride — and he did great at it!

* He crossed the road without me having to dismount first. Since my horse threw me on our first trail ride together, I've been leading him across the street to get to the trails every time. Since we've been going on the longer trails — which take us back across the street again — I've been dismounting to lead him across the street there, too. Today I led him when we crossed the street initially; but when we got to the place in the trail where we have to cross again, traffic wasn't bad, so I rode him across. He did great with it, too!

* He encountered all kinds of things in the neighborhood — and didn't lose his composure! Our new route takes us right down a residential street. We saw lots of parked cars, several manhole covers, and heard noises such as a lawnmower, an electric drill or saw of some sort, and dogs barking at us. Panama was extremely alert (and sometimes a little jittery) because of the unfamiliar surroundings, but he more or less kept his cool. We also had to walk on the sidewalk along the main road about 50 feet in order to get back to our driveway from the residential street, and Panama did okay with that too — even with the cars driving past!

I had a great time on our ride this morning, and I think Panama enjoyed it too. Sunday morning trail rides are becoming a tradition with Karen, Susie, and I. Hopefully I'll be able to start fitting in a few more trail rides mid-week, too!



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