Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A new trail

Trail ride with my horse

This morning we had a pretty big group for a trail ride. We tried to get going a little earlier, but ended up waiting for one of the teenagers who went last time (the girl who was texting). We all rode a bit in the arena to warm up, and I practiced my cantering. It comes so easily now! We still have things to work on, but it's like my brain is able to think at that speed now, whereas before it felt mind-numbing — simply staying on took all of my focus.

We started out our trail ride with six people, but before we had gone very far, we lost the lady whose second time on the trail was Monday: Her horse bucked, and although she did ride a little bit farther at our urging (so as not to reward him by going immediately home), she was still pretty nervous and had us take her back to the barn.

When we left the second time, we took a different route — straight out along the power lines, across the road, and down the hill to the creek. All five of us who remained were okay with water crossings and some other stimuli, so we took a new trail that would take us across the creek. We had to walk along a road for a short distance, and there was a lot of activity here because it was right next to a picnic spot. Panama was on edge, but when we all made it to the other side safe and sound, they all said their horses were anxious too, even those with a lot of trail experience. For some reason that made me feel better.

Panama was very alert and seemed to enjoy the new trail. At one point the trail split, with a ditch crossing on one hand and a bridge on the other. The bridge was short but somewhat narrow, with no handrails and tall grass on either side, so I was afraid Panama would step off the bridge and hurt himself. Luckily the lead rider felt the same way, so three of us crossed the ditch while the other two took the bridge.

I think Panama would have crossed the ditch without any problems if we had been first, as we have crossed ditches before with no problems, but the lead horse jumped it. Panama stepped down into the ditch and put his head down to sniff the trickle of water, so I let him have the reins. No sooner had I loosened them, however, he decided the lead horse was right, and jumped it too! I wasn't ready for it at all, as he was acting like he would walk through it, so I think I was a bit behind him for that jump. At least I didn't hang on his face, though, since I'd let the reins out to allow him to check things out.

The water crossing went fairly smoothly as well. It was a wide section of the creek, and the water was moving fairly quickly, but the banks weren't steep and the water was only about elbow-high on Panama. Unfortunately, I realized as we were about halfway across that the footing was treacherous — the creek bed was very rocky, which made it slippery and uneven. Panama seemed a bit surprised by this, so I don't think he has encountered such rocky footing before, but he slowed down and did a good job of picking his way across the creek.

After the water crossing, we went up the hill, rejoined our usual trail, and went home along the power lines. All in all, I spent probably two hours in the saddle, and loved every minute of it! After Monday's trail ride, too, I found that I wanted to ride for longer — I probably could have spent the entire day in the saddle, as long as I still had trail to explore and a buddy to ride with. I am going to have to start encouraging the other women to go on longer rides — those hour-long rides are fun, but as my riding improves, I'm finding that they feel too short.



At June 23, 2010 at 6:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like he's becoming quite the reliable trail mount!

At June 23, 2010 at 7:32 PM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...

I think so! We have things to work on -- following another horse without always trying to pass, for instance, and I'd like to start getting him comfortable with doing a short distance by himself -- but overall he is doing great, particularly when you consider he is just coming 5!


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