On Again, Off Again, and A Very Exciting Trail Ride
|Quit taking pictures and make with the treats, woman.|
Not being a fan of electrocution or other such maiming, injury, or death, I decided to put the pony away both times and try again another day.
So frustrating! I feel like I have SO much work to do in all three phases, I really want to get down to business! But when these things happen, I try to look at it as God forcing me to take a needed break! Since then we've been on a bit of an every-other-day sort of riding schedule, and while it's not my favorite, Dino and I are both pretty fit at this point and can withstand a few days off here and there.
The weather was merciful on Thursday, and I was able to get in a flat ride. Unfortunately my favorite spot for flatwork is getting really overgrown - we're talking knee-high grass and weeds - so I'm not sure that the ride was quite as productive as it could have been. Time to hop on the mower...
Dino is getting REALLY nice to ride at the walk and the trot; his connection is getting very consistent and he is traveling very through over his back more often than not. It's very fun to be able to just put him in my outside rein and leave him alone aside from a couple finger wiggles on the inside to keep his neck soft. The canter work on Thursday left a lot to be desired; he was very stuck behind my leg and "up and down" in the canter. I think the tall vegetation had a lot to do with it. But Dino still made a fair effort and for not having done any serious flatwork since our lesson, I was pretty happy with him. He's building all the right muscles for self-carriage, which is evident in walk and trot, and I know the canter will come along soon!
On Friday evening my barn owner and I had a little jump school together, working through the awesome grid that I have set up (and will leave up forever because it's just that good). She had just returned from the most epic trail ride/camping adventure, and needed to start brushing up her jumping again, so I helped her through the exercise and rode through it myself as well. Dino was, in typical fashion, SO hard to get going in the jump field. He even BUCKED when I asked him to canter! I don't know what it is about that particular location, but he has some serious Snotty Pony'tude going on in there. I tried to really get down to business with good flatwork right away, but he still put up a serious fight about going forward. I'm going to have to start schooling in there more often and creating some positive experiences, because this nonsense is getting old.
In any case, once we started jumping Dino was great! He really understands the grid, and is getting to be very rideable and adjustable when I want to do things like jump through the grid, come around to one of the side fences, and then ride a tight bending four strides back to the in-and-out coming the other way. I also introduced him to his first skinny! I had a barrel set up on its side with 'V' poles and a placing pole to help guide him in, and while the first few times he jumped the poles instead, soon he got the idea and hopped over the barrel like a good little eventer.
Then on Saturday morning we headed out for a trail ride at our local state park! I had SO missed having my trail riding buddy while my barn owner and Sully were away, and I was pumped to get back out for some adventuring. However, our little adventure was a bit more exciting than I had bargained for. A big storm was rolling in, and while we were hoping to miss the bad weather, it was looking pretty ominous as we headed out on the trail. We got to the covered bridge, and neither of the horses wanted to go in. Normally, this would not freak me out, but the entrance to the bridge is a REALLY FREAKIN' STEEP HILL. Y'all know how I feel about hills. So you can imagine the heart palpitations that were happening as I sat on my pony who was spinning in circles and backing up DOWN THE HILL because there were definitely trolls in that bridge.
Eventually we got both horses through the bridge, but my nerves were seriously shot. I ended up grabbing my half pad on the way down the hill on the other side for 'security' I was so freaked out. The ride went well for a while after that, we had some nice trots and gallops in spots, but eventually we came out of the woods into an open field and saw a huge, terrifying black cloud roll over the park, accompanied by some pretty intense thunder.
We both decided in that moment that now would be a good time to head back to the trailer, and kicked it into high gear to get back to the parking area as quickly as possible.
So here we are, going no slower than a fast trot but mainly cantering back to the trailer, with this storm cloud chasing us and thunder rolling all around. Dino was feeling the urgency of the situation and was just leaning into my hands and RUNNING. It was mildly terrifying, and I was having visions of my pony spooking at a loud thunder clap while galloping hell-bent for leather through the woods and me falling off and injuring myself and Dino running away forever. It was fun.
Eventually, we get close to the entrance to the park, and my friend yells back to me that she isn't going the way we came in, she's going a different way, and makes a sharp right turn into the woods onto a narrow trail. I follow, thinking she knows a good short cut, and then the trail makes a sharp left turn and goes
Like legit vertical. Her horse gallops up this thing and I don't have time to react aside from grabbing mane and yelling "HOLY SHIT" while I try not to slide off the back of my pony. Thankfully it was only about ten strides or so before we emerged at the top, right where the trailer was parked.
We quickly pulled off bridles and loaded the horses, and as soon as we closed the trailer doors it started pouring.
Once seated safely in the truck, my heart stopped racing.
My friend said she'd help me get braver out on the trail. I think this counts as about five 'bravery building rides', don't you?