Saturday, January 3, 2015

Another beautiful ride in the snow!

Some local folks started talking about getting together for dinner, then someone suggested a ride, and before I knew it, a plan was hatched.  We would meet up at one person's house/barn at noon, ride in the arena for a bit, then head for a local trailhead for a group trail ride.  Sounded like fun, so Shar and I were in.

At her house, I first measured Arya's feet to potentially get her some boots (aka temporary horseshoes), and we checked whether a girth Shar had would fit my new saddle (I don't have it yet, but it's identical to Shar's saddle, so we checked the combo out, and her girth works!  So now it's my girth.  Oh, and yes, if anyone's keeping track, I now own FOUR saddles for ONE horse.)

Then we got the ponies loaded up, with some warm blankets since Shar's trailer is a stock trailer, with open-air slats instead of solid walls.

Arya's rear end hanging out of her warm fuzzy fleece "jammies"

We got to the barn a few minutes late, but right around the same time everyone else was arriving--guess we all failed to account for the icy roads once leaving the highway.  :-)

Arya and Flash

Nessie, Sprocket, and Jax (I think?)
Once we tacked up, I headed into the arena with Arya.  Did a little groundwork first to see if she was thinking of bucking or tuned into me or what.  She seemed great, so I got on.  Her breathing was a little bit more obvious than usual, and she was definitely looking around at the new environment and all the extra horses, most of which she'd never met.  And there was one part of the arena that clearly had her brain working overtime--there's a hay storage area off the riding part, and some hay stragglers on the ground.  But there was ALSO some boards and hoses laying on the ground, which made her a little nervous.  She couldn't decide if she wanted to stop and nibble or give a wide berth to the snake-like objects.  I convinced her to just try to ignore them.  :-)

But she did GREAT.  She has NOT spent much time in an arena, and doesn't like to trot in such a confined space, but she did great, and we even trotted a bit. 

Some people asked me how tall she is, and I said I wasn't positive, but had eyeballed her at about 15.3 hands (a hand is 4 inches, and the extra inches go after the decimal point, so that's 63 inches, not 6.3 inches).  The owner of the property mentioned that she had a stick (much more accurate way to measure--it even has a level built in), so she went and got it, and a bunch of us who were curious measured our horses.  She's actually only 15.2, which is fairly average.  I don't know about most people, but I don't consider a horse "tall" until it's at least 16 hands.  She's just so large overall that she seems taller than she really is.  (One person even guessed 16.2--a full four inches taller than she actually is.)

So that was fun.  And then it was time to load up for the short trailer ride to the trailhead.  We took the bridles off, but left the saddles on the horses for the trailer ride.  Some people regularly haul with saddles on, but that's not Flash's usual way of traveling, and I don't know about Arya before I got her, but she hasn't worn a saddle for the trailer ride since I've had her.  We joked about them being confused about this new method, but they loaded up just fine.

We all arrived at the trailhead and got our equines situated, and were pleased to see a mounting "block" at the trailhead--two trees had been growing very close together and were cut down at staggered heights to make a perfect (and much taller than usual) mounting block.  Awesome!  We took turns getting on and waiting for the rest of the group to be ready to head down the trail.  Here's our motley grew of people, horses, and trailers in the background:

 We set off down the trail in a larger group than we usually ride with (or than I ever ever ridden with on Arya), and Arya did great.  Some people wanted to trot, but there were a few of us who weren't too thrilled with the footing (snow on top of rocky dirt) at that area, so we hung back.  At first I worried how Arya would do with other horses trotting away out of sight.  But before I had much chance to worry, Shar offered to get in front of the other two of us who were sticking to a walk, because he's VERY experienced and doesn't mind others riding away from him.  So we all did just fine.  Then we met back up with the group (they waited for us), and they rode away from us again.  She did fine.  Then later on, as they were just walking, I trotted her to try to catch up to that group, and they started trotting after all.  I brought her to a walk and she did just fine, even as they pulled way out in front.  Yay!  What a good girl!

We ended up doing a few stints of trotting, including some uphill stretches (gentle hills, but still).  Arya wasn't a fan--she hasn't had a long ride like she used to do with her previous owner in a LONG time and even I haven't had her out for more than a few miles in a pretty long time.  She's getting out of shape.  We have our work cut out for us for the upcoming endurance ride season!  But you know what that means?  Lots of riding.  Oh what a bummer.  ;-)

But you know what else?  She really seems to love it.  If horses could grin, that's what it felt like she was doing at the beginning of both the New Years ride and today's ride.  I'm so happy with her--she's gone through some new experiences, and she handled all of it with aplomb.  Such a good girl.

Anyway, here are photos from the ride:

Arya's ears at the bottom, the rest of the riders ahead of us


This is really blurry, but the moon looked really cool, I promise.
 It was seriously just a really great ride with great people, great horses, and most of all, MY great horse, Arya.  So happy.

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