Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Beautiful day and a great trail ride!

I arrived at the barn first this morning, before any of our trail riding buddies made it.  Panama was lying in the sun napping, and was certainly in no hurry to get up!  I walked up to him with the halter and lead rope, and when he didn't get up, squatted between his legs and leaned against him with my head on his withers.  His breathing was slow and heavy, and he was clearly very relaxed.  It wasn't until one of our trail buddies arrived that he realized something was going on, and got up.

Horse lying down

It didn't take Panama very long to figure out we were going on a trail ride, and he was very excited once he figured it out.  I was the second one mounted, and opted to ride Panama in the outdoor arena for a few minutes to make sure he was going to behave himself.  He was getting very eager, and was more than a little anxious that Zans and his rider (who were out in the field) would leave without us, but I was able to get him to hold it together.  Then Savvy (his pasturemate) and her rider joined us in the arena before we went on our ride, and he stopped worrying quite as much about getting left behind.  I made sure not to fall too far behind when we left the arena, and asked Savvy's owner to wait for us just outside the gate, so that Panama wouldn't be tempted to run to catch up.

Panama was definitely alert and excited until we stopped to graze at our usual place just outside the property gate.  I don't know if it was the grazing or leaving the property (i.e., knowing he wasn't going to be left behind) or simply the familiarity of the routine, but he calmed right down and was fine for the rest of the trail ride.  (The grass is brown and dry, but apparently it's still worth eating, because the horses were quite happy to stop and graze periodically!)

Panama was for the most part very relaxed, and walked with his head down.  He did perk up and show some concern about a couple of changes in the park — the yurt we always pass had been taken down (he was so interested in the change that he tried to walk right over to check it out), and the horses have left the riding stables for the season (he walked diagonal the entire length of the fence to stare at the empty stable yard and pasture).  We had one little spook — he and Savvy both crow-hopped when a bird flew out of the brush in front of them, but then just kept going like nothing had happened.  For most of the ride, his ears were on me, and I was pleased to see he was paying so much attention to me despite the many distractions along the trail.

It was a beautiful morning, maybe 35 or 40 degrees but very sunny.  I was wearing a long-sleeved thermal with a T-shirt over it, a sweat jacket over that, and my light jacket on top, and I was plenty warm enough until the very end, when my fingers and toes started to feel a little cold.  The only bad thing was that the slight chill in the air was making my sinuses drain faster than usual, so I had to blow my nose a few times on the ride while Panama grazed.  My reins aren't long enough to hang onto them while I blow my nose when his head is down, so I just had to loop them over his withers and hope he behaved himself!  But he always did.

I had the option of going on for a short while longer with Savvy and her owner, while Zans and his owner returned to the barn, but I decided not to push it.  Panama was so good, but I think taking the usual, familiar loop was the best plan.  Maybe next time we'll go a little further, but I have to remember that it has been a long time since he's been out, and not overdo it just because he seems to be handling it well.  Small steps!



At December 22, 2010 at 4:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How nice that you got in a nice ride on a beautiful day - go Panama!

At December 23, 2010 at 8:02 AM, Blogger Nuzzling Muzzles said...

I'll bet right now Panama is secretly typing away on his own blog telling his horse friends all about the exciting trail ride.

It's good to split trail buddies up like that to go in different directions, so that they don't get so attached.

At December 23, 2010 at 1:27 PM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...

Kate, go Panama indeed! :o) I might even go again tomorrow morning...

NM, we all returned to the barn together -- although Zans's owner was offering to return alone, so that we could go on together, I wasn't entirely comfortable with that thought. I'd never want anyone to leave me to go back alone, so I would never expect anyone else to, either. I know you do very well alone, and so do some other riders whose blogs I follow, but for a lot of horses I don't think it's an option.

In any case, we had a great ride, and Panama behaved like we'd never had a break in trail riding at all -- in fact, one of my trail buddies commented that he was just like "the old Panama" who was such a champ on the trail before he started acting up.

At December 26, 2010 at 11:53 AM, Anonymous Melody said...

I think it's great that you're taking small steps and working up to everything. I'm glad that Panama behaved himself. And that you were able to relax a bit and enjoy the ride. When we first got a rescue horse, hubby went "small steps" and went and bought boots and such from Tim's Boots so we wouldn't keep falling out of the stirrups. Doing good now though.

At December 29, 2010 at 9:02 PM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...

Melody, if you are fairly new to my blog you won't know it, but he and I were having some major problems on the trail around mid-summer, and stopped going. He was being really unpredictable and bolting a lot. So we're kind of working backup to it, now that he is behaving himself again.


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