For some reason, despite record setting and oppressive temperatures over the weekend, my friends managed to talk me into not one, but two trail rides. And despite my inner voice screaming that my own horse hasn’t had enough work recently, I decided to take Mikey on both of them. After all, he has to get out. And there’s so much you can teach on trailrides that isn’t as boring as ring work, right?
Saturday we went out with two friends, one on her 18.2 hand Belgian and the other on her Chincoteague pony. One of the first things I learned about Mikey is that he has not lost his competitive edge. Within moments, it was obvious that he did NOT want to be last in line. While the leader of the group spooked at an overturned chair next to the ring, Mike took the opportunity to pass, giving the chair a healthy hairy eyeball but not breaking stride in the slightest. Once in front he marched along quite happily as if he’d been going on trail rides his whole entire life.
The only thing he had trouble with was areas of very wet, deep footing. The first time through one of those sections (at a creek crossing) we had to stop and let the other horses go in front of us, at which point he continued (very carefully) through the mud and had no trouble with the creek crossing. Later he would encounter several more spots with trappy footing or otherwise scary stuff, but he was very smart about everything and when in doubt, would follow the other horses. I never had to get after him about anything, he just needed to think it through.
He also had no trouble with several large logs that had fallen down, stepping over everything very easily. We trotted and cantered in the group, usually in front, and he came back easily every time. When we got to the big “galloping field” he did have a good time going up the hill, but never really got rolling or was difficult to slow down. He seems happiest when he’s in front, but I had no trouble bringing him back either.
98% of the ride was on the buckle, and he never once spooked at anything. Good boiiieee!!!!!
Sunday we went with a larger group, and two things became apparent – 1) he doesn’t HAVE to lead alllll the time and 2) he learns quickly. Everything that was even slightly an issue on Saturday he had zero trouble with Sunday. He even stopped to play in the water at one point, and was enjoying himself enough I was a little worried he’d try to roll on me.
He did feel, several times, like he may have been a little footsore. He takes great care to skirt trails with rocky footing (at the expense of my face and legs), and is extremely careful with his feet when the rocky parts can’t be avoided. I picked up some keratex over the weekend, as it’s a favorite product for toughening feet, and hopefully that (plus added fitness and flexibility) should help him out. But because of his past injury, I’m tending towards being paranoid about it and keeping a very close eye on how he’s going.
While at the tack store I also grabbed a cheap, yet adorable, Western headstall for him. It has shiny buckles with a barbed wire pattern, and one of those sliding ear things. It makes me very, very happy. For some reason I can’t resist dressing him up (much the same way I felt with Rosey!).
I did manage to snag a few pics yesterday, which I should have up tomorrow or later in the week. We are such an adorable mishmash – very light western saddle, dark english snaffle bridle, ear net, and me in cowboy boots, jeans, and my velvet Charles Owen helmet.
I know y’all are jealous. 🙂