Saturday, October 31, 2015

A big ask and a big tell

I was hoping Colin could ride with me this weekend and the only day he has time to ride is today, so today it was.

I haven't ridden the pony in about two weeks, so I wanted to get an idea for how she was feeling by going out a bit earlier than Colin and doing some ground work. Pony was great and perfect, so when Colin came out I thought we might try a trail ride. The wind started gusting up and since my options for trail riding were either in the back of our property where the neighbors have some flying tarps and a swingset, or in a natural environment with no flying tarps, I chose the no-flying-tarp option. But this meant that we'd go across the street to the BLM. I've taken the pony over there lots of times, and Mac has ridden over there lots of times, so I thought it would be the better option.

It was a BIG ask for Princess Fancy Pants. We hand walked the horses over there and through the gate and everyone was just fine. I had Colin mount up first and stay nearby so that the pony wouldn't be distracted by him moving around taking his turn to get ready. That was no problem. Mounting was great, everyone walked off nice and quietly, and we were on our way.

We started off with Colin in front, but Mac has a very laid-back, pokey-horse walk on the trails and pony has a bigger and more forward walk. At one point she trotted off a bit as we had split up just a bit to find the trail (good news, she has a comfortable trot!), but I brought her back to a walk and she was right on Mac's tail. So we took turns with Mac in front and then pony in front. She slowed down a bit when she was in front, not sure if she wanted that responsibility! At one point, I had Mac go in front again and he did a little startle as he scared a buck off from the trees, but nobody had any problems. Pony was a bit fidgety, but I don't blame her. Then Mac sort of startled again - head up, wanting to turn away. At that point I got off the pony and took the lead by hand walking past whatever was bothering Mac. I know what he'll do when he spooks, but I don't know what she'll do and I didn't think it was a good day to come off! So we hand walked for a bit and then I got back on using a big tree stump.

We leap-frogged a bit more, then walked side-by-side for a while. We startled some more deer in the trees a little farther out and pony did a spook. She sort of startled/jumped in place, did a little two-steps-to-the-side spook, and then all was good and we went on our way.

As we got closer to home, the wind was picking up, pony was getting fidgety, and she showed me her "tell" - like in poker - which was a head toss and a squeal. She humped her back a little bit but I growled at her and we went on. I turned her in a circle because we had passed Mac and we walked on. Another tell of a squeal/shake/hump and I growled at her and we went on. A bit of a trot (comfy), squeal, head shake, and I kept her head up, walked on, and decided that I would hand walk her the rest of the way. Since she had momentarily quieted down, I got off, did some walk-halt-walk-stay-out-of-my-space ground work and we made it to the gate.

The wind is GUSTING right now and the horses are out eating lunch. It was a BIG ask for the pony today, and she did a great job. I was on her back longer than I've ever been - probably two short rides of 10 minutes each as I got on and then off and then on and then off again. I think I might do another short ride tomorrow, but in the arena, and start some trot work since she seemed keen on it and not seemingly thrown off guard or off balance by me on her back while trotting.

Glad I made it off of her back of my own free will!

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