Shar and Flash took off around 5-ish and hit the trails hard, getting some good speed going. I work till 5, plus Arya and I are more in the "rest" phase before our ride next weekend so didn't need to ride as hard as they planned, so I showed up at her house around 5:30, caught Arya, tacked up, and was in the saddle by 6:00, starting out on a solo ride. We planned to meet up out on the trails at some point and end the ride as a joint ride.
It was funny--I made a quick restroom break before mounting up, and Shar's husband was in their house, so when I knocked on the door and asked to use the bathroom, he was like, "Oh, you missed the ride with Shar, huh?" So I told him we actually planned it this way. :-)
As we were riding out the driveway, Arya was not too sure about this whole "riding past the trash cans" thing, but even before we were completely out the driveway and even with the trash cans, she either realized they were fine (we often ride on the night they're set out, so they're not foreign to her), or she realized acting scared of them wasn't going to make me turn around and call it quits, and by the time we turned next to them, she was like "whatever." Silly girl.
As we rode away from the house, she was very "looky," but I concentrated on my breathing (and singing along with my music, and soon she was relaxed and sighing and groaning out her tension as well.
We passed the house with the previously-noisy-but-lately-eerily-silent dogs, and while they barked the last time Shar and I rode past, they were silent this time. Weird. Just about then, we saw someone ride by the perpendicular road ahead of us on a chestnut horse. It occurred to me it could be Krista, who lives nearby, so I hollered "Hi," but no response. Arya was very interested in this other equine ahead of us, so she perked up, and we trotted to the stop sign and checked for traffic.
We turned in the direction the other horse had already gone, and Arya was on high alert. Then the other rider kept going straight, while we needed to turn left. Arya disagreed with me about turning, but did so without much fuss (so much progress from the ride where she didn't want to leave the "home" block!).
We trotted and walked down that block, turned left onto the next block, and walked once we were next to the pasture where this cute bay horse sometimes runs right up to us. This time, the lady who lives there was in the pasture with the horse and a dog, scooping poop. She commented that we were having more fun than she was. Yup!
When we got past the pasture, I paused to give Arya a treat for doing so well so far, especially past the horse, lady, and dog, and we were immediately swarmed by bugs, mostly mosquitos. Ugh. So we headed down the hill, but of course not very quickly, which meant still being swarmed by bugs. Ugh ugh ugh. Arya wasn't a very big fan, either. I'd actually sprayed her with fly spray before tacking up, but I hadn't gotten her face, or myself at all, and the bugs realized that. Ugh.
As soon as we got to the bottom of the hill, we started trotting. I'd been so proud of myself and her on our last ride--me for trusting her not to go tearing off with me (not that she's ever shown a sign of doing so, but fear isn't always rational) and riding her with a loose rein, and her for not taking advantage of that. But since we were solo, I wasn't able to relax quite so much, but I did fairly well. She protested my clinging to the reins a few times, but mostly we were in agreement about how fast to go. She also shied sideways a couple of times and came to a dead stop once or twice, but we survived.
We got to where the trail kind of lets out onto a dirt road. Normally, the trail parallels the dirt road for nearly the entire way, with maybe one little spot where it makes more sense to ride on the road. However, they just graded the road, and apparently widened it a bit, which cut out some parts of the trail where it was closest to the road. So we needed to get off the trail and onto the road, then ride along the road a ways. The equipment had left tire tracks with a diamond pattern, and apparently Flash and Arya thought it looked like the world's biggest snake laying on the side of the road, or something. I could see Flash's hoofprints dancing all around the area, and Arya was all snorty, too.
We also came across a plastic bag, which had apparently spooked Flash so bad that Shar came off (but landed on her feet!). Arya stopped dead in her tracks and snorted at it. I let her look at it, made her face it, and made her take a step, then let her think it through some more. She decided it wasn't too bad, and went on past it.
I texted Shar when we got to the spot we'd agreed I'd text from, and then my phone accidentally dialled her as well, so we were able to communicate where we'd meet. Arya started acting up at this point, really wanting to trot, so I tried to keep her to a walk instead, so we made slower progress than we otherwise might've. Just about when we started being able to trot again, we spied a familiar chestnut horse in the distance. Arya saw him too--her head went up, her ears went forward, and she was VERY curious who it might be. She didn't realize it was Flash until she got close enough to smell him, I don't think.
We started to turn around for home, when Shar said I should see if she'd be willing to continue the direction we'd been going, away from home, while she and Flash kept going the way THEY'D been going, toward home. Well, that sounded challenging, so we gave it a shot. Arya didn't WANT to head that way, but after a little convincing, she did, and even trotted a bit. So I stopped her and tried to reward her with a little carrot treat, but when I turned her head toward me to get the carrot, she was like "Oh, I get to go toward home and toward Flash now? Score!" and had no interest in the treat. Oh well. Turning toward home was treat enough, I guess.
We all trotted toward home, but Arya got pissier and pissier as I tried to hold her back to maintain a little space behind Flash, and at one point even threw in what was either a canter stride or a tiny buck or something. Uh uh. This is where she gave me so much grief on our last solo ride that I had to get off and ended up walking all the way home. I asked Shar to please walk, and she did.
But then we found the trail that goes up a rocky hill and spits us out onto a gravel road at the top of a cliff, paralleling the route home we were currently on. Once we got up that hill, Arya wasn't on familiar trail anymore and wasn't pissy, so we played some leapfrog games.
Shar and Flash passed us cantering, while we just walked. Arya wanted to speed up, which wasn't surprising, but a little check with the rein reminded her that WE were just walking. Then we passed Flash (us trotting, them walking). She's gotten good at this game--the first few times, she did NOT want to pass him, but now we just trot right on by. Good girl! They passed us at the canter again, we trotted past them. Then they cantered past while we trotted. On the right side (we usually pass each other on the left, just as a car would pass a slower car).
We trotted while they trotted, and we each rated our speed to be able to pass each other. Arya actually did SO great at this, I was shocked. I just had to THINK "slower" and she'd slow to a slow trot and let Flash pass. I had to think "faster" plus squeeze just a little, and she'd speed up to a nice clip and pass Flash. She did SO great.
Then I said the real challenge would be SLOWING to a walk while Flash pulled ahead of us, so we tried that. Not so successful, so that'll be something to work on. And of course it'd be more of a challenge with strangers, and especially at a real ride with all the excitement in the air, but she's doing great at the leapfrog games with Flash.
We got home, and I got to put my brand new fleece seat cover on my saddle--I had one just for my bottom, and I just received one that covers the whole seat plus all the way down the fenders. Fleece is great for both hot weather and cold, and provides a little padding as well as sweat absorption.
Then I tried Arya's brand new fly mask on her. It fits great, but looks pretty stupid and makes her look kind of like a ninja. :-) (The halter wouldn't be under it while out in the pasture, of course.)
|Does this fly mask make my head look stupid? Sorry sweetie, but yes, yes it does.|
Then both the ponies got a little treat--grazing in the front lawn area:
Friday--VET VISIT! Not sure if Arya's ever had her teeth done, so we're getting those checked, and done if necessary. And if it is necessary, I'm gonna clean her boobies while she's "drunk" on the drugs, then hopefully maintain it from there (she's not a fan of me messing with that area). We'll get some bloodwork done to see if she's got too much or too little of any vitamins and minerals in her system, and discuss vaccines, but the most exciting part is the vet will (hopefully!) sign off that she's well taken care of so I can send in the BLM paperwork to make her officially MINE. Woo hoo!