Sunday, August 8, 2010

First Trail Rides!

On Saturday I got brave and decided to ride Junior on the teeny tiny trail loop closest to the barn. That's the trail I took last video clip on. I started our day with the Electro Stim and the stretches and then led him by hand along the whole loop. He was uneasy about the pond. He's making me think he doesn't like water. He acted the same way towards a big puddle once on a walk around the old boarding stable. But he walked fine through all the puddles in the pastures and in the driveway at the old place.

After our walk I rode him a bit. He felt the same as he did on Friday. He was really extending his walk on the trail so I decided I'd go ahead and ride the trail. Made me a little nervous because we were alone on the place, but when bravery shows up unexpectedly I usually listen. I am a bit of a pansy after all.

He was great. He walked SUPER fast but I let him have his head so he didn't feel trapped. We did the loop twice and then went out past the barn and did the path around the turn out fields. He flinched at the jumps and at some barrels along the way, but no spooks! He seemed to really be extending his stride so hopefully that's a good stretch for him.

Today I did the Stim and the stretches and then did the "carrot" stretches using treats.... this may have been a grave mistake. I was hesitant to do it because I've banned hand feeding him since last October. The ban as really helped his impolite mouthiness. He is still mouthy, but when he hasn't expected there to be treats he's much more polite and respectful about it. I wasn't really able to get him to stretch though, so I thought I'd try it. Once he figured out he had to keep his feet planted and reach for it he stretched SO much further than he had been. So that was successful.... but I spent most of the rest of the day smacking his mouth away. It's like the 10 months of work was gone. Grrrrrrr. So now what? Which is the lesser of the two evils? Mouthy or stiff? Hopefully I don't have to choose, but I'm not sure how else to encourage him to stretch. Any ideas that don't involve food?

Max's girls came and we agreed he looked a little stiffer trotting (in hand) than we'd like, so I rode but just walked. Max led us into the trail loop. Junior walks a lot faster than Max so I kept having to stop him to keep his nose out of Max's tail. After the short loop we went to wooded trail with creek crossings that we had not been on yet. He did pretty good, but I was very glad to have Max there to prove there were no monsters. We got to the first creek crossing and there were only puddles but he freaked out a bit and bounded the last stride out of it and a few hops beyond. The second crossing was drier (both were sandy with round stones) and I held him back so he would pick his way calmly across it. Maybe he doesn't like water after all? He was great the rest of the way. We walked the perimeter of the fields again and he actually stopped to pee. That's only the second time he's done it while riding so I know he really had to go. He will rarely even go if someone is watching!

Hopefully the nice brisk walk was good for him. *I* sure enjoyed getting out of the arenas! I realize though, that I really don't have any trail experience and my anxiety steps up a bit. What if he spooks and bolts? Throws me into a tree? Can he handle the stones in the creek bed? I grew up with horses on the treeless prairie. Our version of trail riding was riding the perimeter of the fenced-in hay fields! Good thing my BO is an endurance rider! I'll have some questions for her

Junior remains calm and very happy.


  1. Could you put carrots in a bowl? Maybe a small ceral bowl or something that is shallow enough for him to easily get the carrots out... It's still food, but not coming from your hands, and that way you can still get a good stretch out of him.

    I bet he really enjoyed being on the trails. It's such a good break for them mentally. I've got some really good trails at my new place that I can't wait to try this fall. :)

  2. That is all good news. Have fun trail riding during these beautiful, summer months!

  3. Wow in2paints's suggestion is so clever! I'll have to try that.

    Congrats on the trails! It's nice to do something out of the ordinary every once in a while. I hope all your hard work with the stretches pays off soon.