Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Another good day for horseback riding

Julie and I would like to try a "trail ride" (just 10 miles) at an endurance ride sometime this year, and realized we (especially me!) and the horses would need to shape up a bit to do well at one (any horse and rider can likely GO 10 miles, but doing it well and coming in feeling good is another story).  So we are going to try to ride at least one weeknight a week in addition to weekends, and tonight was that night.

I got there a little before Julie (I'd taken off work early to volunteer at the Humane Society and she was coming straight from work) and got "my" horse out of the paddock and groomed her and even put the saddle on.  Then Julie arrived, so I fetched her horse for her and she tacked HER up, and we were ready to go.  We started off in the indoor arena.  I quickly bored of riding in circles, and asked Julie if she wanted to ride on the "poop" trail.  (They spread the manure on a network of trails on the property--it actually makes for really nice footing!)  Her horse was acting up in the arena, so she didn't want to take her chances on the trail, but said I could go alone.  A few weeks ago, I wouldn't have, but I felt ready, so I did.

I hopped off in the arena, then led her to the mounting stairs out behind the barn.  At first she wasn't cooperating (she wanted to eat all the new greens coming up!), but she finally stood still and I hopped on, and she took off at a quick walk.  No, no, no.  You have to obey.  Especially outside in the big wide world.  ;-)  She settled down quite a bit but was still on high alert, out there in the breezy evening all by ourselves.  We looped around the front of the property, around the cross-country course and near the barn.  She kept wanting to trot but I kept her at a walk.  Then we headed toward the upper loop that goes more through trees (though still near the outdoor arena and a house, we're not talking boonies here).  Once we got a little away from the barn area, I let her trot up the hill a bit, and she seemed well under control, so I notched her up a gear into a canter.  She didn't try to take off with me, and we had a nice controlled canter up a nice gentle hill.  Good girl!  We walked back down the hill, trotted and cantered back up the same loop again, and when I got to the top, I realized that that was my fourth time (two were a different day) doing the loop in the same direction, so I turned her around and we walked back down the way we came.  One more trot/canter back up the hill (still going the opposite direction than the first few times), and walk down, and we headed back past the barn area to the lower (flatter) loop.

She wanted to go back to the barn, so she was a little squirelly going past that area, but then she settled in again, so we trotted and cantered a little more on the flat.  Another gal (not Julie) was out there with a horse that had only learned to enter/cross water on Sunday, and she was trying to get that horse to go into the pond again.  I was pretty sure Julie had said that "my" horse had been through water before just fine, so I headed that way to see if she'd do it (I wasn't going to push hard--don't need to end up in the drink right before sunset!), and after a quick sniff, she plowed right through.  Good girl!  And good to know if we encounter water on the trail (though there isn't much out here in the desert, and often when you do encounter water, it's uncrossable irrigation canals, but whatever).

I called that a win, and we headed back to the barn, met up with Julie who had done much better with her hourse there in the arena, and we both untacked and took the girls back to their respective paddocks for a well-deserved dinner.

I was still a little sore from Sunday, and now I'm going to be REALLY sore.  And we're planning to ride again on Friday morning!  (No work for Julie and me--woo!)

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