Sully has FINALLY been cleared by his farrier to go back to trail riding, hunting, and jumping, so his mom and I took the boys out to the sate park to trail ride with another hunt friend last Friday afternoon.
Trail riding with Dino is always awesome, every time.
It doesn't hurt that we had absolutely perfect weather, great company, and gorgeous trails to ride!
I'm also just so thankful that since I moved to Orchard Hill a year and a half ago, I've had the opportunity to trail ride a LOT, and those opportunities have shown me that the trail and the hunt field are where Dino truly shines. I almost never feel anxious when I'm trail riding on Dino - I know that he's going to get me safely over, under, or through whatever we come across. Trail riding extensively has brought a new dimension to both my riding life and our partnership, and I relish every chance we get to hit the trails!
Friday's ride was no exception, and we had an absolute blast with our riding buddies.
We headed out from our friend's barn, a different starting point than we usually take, and a trail I'd never been down before. As we headed back behind the pastures towards the park, Dino ambled along slowly behind our friends and I heard them chatting about how many jumps were on the path we were taking to the park.
Erhm. Jumps? How big are these jumps? Was I going to be okay with jumps? The idea of unknown jumps on an unfamiliar trail were making my butterfly act up a wee bit.
I decided to not think about it and just enjoy the ride, when the leader of our threesome pushed his horse into a trot and headed towards a log.
Well then. Here we go!
As per usual, I had absolutely nothing to be worried about. Dino is the greatest trail pony who ever lived, and he cruised over every single log and branch I pointed him at, clearing everything easily, having a blast, and breezing forward with little to no input from me, even jumping a little log set into a small 'step' in the path like a proper bank instead of just walking up it. I felt a smile creep across my face.
Trail riding with Dino is awesome, every time.
We proceeded to have a fantastic, fast ride through the park, walking only when the footing dictated it and trotting, cantering, or galloping everywhere else. We took every log jump along the way, and Dino was an absolute rockstar, giving me heaps of confidence to jump things with tricky, narrow approaches or downhill slopes or landing sides with questionable footing that demanded accurate steering. On the trail, I know Dino can do anything, and so I trusted him to carry me through.
On a trail ride, I also generally have no time to think about or try and prepare for a jump. I'm galloping along at the rear of the pack, trying to keep my pony from passing everyone else, and suddenly there's a big ol' log in front of us and the only thing for us to do is jump it. This kind of seat-of-my-pants riding is so good for me, and prevents me from getting nervous or having too many thoughts at once.
When we arrived back at the farm, my trail buddies took off to jump a handful of XC jumps set up near the pastures. Not wanting to canter Dino on the rocky gravel path we were walking, I let them go on without us.
It was then that the butterfly started flapping.
Could I jump the jumps by myself without a lead from our friends?
Turns out, yes, I absolutely could!
I sent Dino charging up the hill and rode a perfect, forward distance to the first log jump, despite considering for a moment if I could fit in just one more stride. We crested the hill, popped over what was pretty much the XC version of a ground pole, and the headed across the driveway to jump another fence between two trees.
Dino was perfect. I was brave. And it was awesome.
Just like it is every time.
|Much gallop. What jumping. So sleepy.|