Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Trail ride!

Today I was lucky enough to get to go out on a trail ride — my first since before the infection in my hand. It was a little bit windy, but it calmed down for most of our ride, and the horses weren't bothered at all by the wind.

Our trail companions today were just Zans, Panama's big Fresian-Thoroughbred cross buddy, and his mom. Zans's owner lunged him, and then we rode in the arena for a few moments just to check both his and Panama's moods. They were fine, so we went right out on the trail.

It was a great ride, though I had a few anxious moments. The biggest one — actually several moments — was when we passed the rental stables inside the park, and there were horses there! The stables has been closed, but is opening up this weekend, so they moved the horses over to get them ready for the trail riding season. Having passed the stables several times and never seen horses, Panama was very excited about this change, and I had the distinct feeling that my control over him was suddenly rather tenuous. Particularly when a pretty little mare came running over to the fence to visit! It took us five or ten minutes to pass the stables, and the entire time I was fighting to keep Panama on track. He was much more interested in stopping and looking at the horses, and would have greeted them if I'd let him, rather than continuing on our trail ride.

We took the lead several times throughout the trail, more because Zans walks so slow than for any other reason. Panama just naturally kept passing him. He is getting better about pacing himself a bit slower, but once he discovered he could lead, he forgot all about trying to keep up (or keep down, rather) with Zans. The problem with that is that we have to stop periodically and let Zans catch up, so that he doesn't get too far behind and panic!

The lovely green grass is coming up all throughout the park, too. I've been letting Panama stop and eat periodically, which is a big change for me, but I feel that it is helping him to relax and keep his excitement at manageable levels on the trail. The only rules are that he only gets to when I say it's okay; and when I say, "Head," and give his reins a gentle tug, he has to stop. So far that's going well, with only the occasional attempt to graze when I'm not permitting it. Usually a gentle jiggle of the reins is sufficient reminder if he forgets himself!

It was a very satisfying ride, but I don't know whether I'll be going out again tomorrow. I have a lot of work still to catch up on from last week, and my cat, Prince, has been doing more poorly lately — increasing his food seems to be helping, but it means force-feeding him more frequently, which is hard to schedule around trips to the barn. Staying home tomorrow and taking care of some other things might be a better plan of action!

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