Thursday, July 12, 2018

Riding Out

I am a huge proponent of trail riding. I love how much it refreshes the mind of the horse (and rider!), and I really enjoy how it gives them an active break from schooling while still shaking out muscles and getting them back under saddle.
Some of our beautiful, but kind of tough, old trails.
Pig and I always did a ton of trail riding and out of the ring conditioning work as part of his schooling. He would tell me when he'd had enough of the ring, and we would make sure to get out on the trails and do some casual riding (and galloping!)

With Bast, trail riding has not come naturally. At my old barn, the trails were much more advanced, with a ton of creek crossings to start and much steeper grades and sections with iffy footing. I loved them, but they weren't the best option when it came to introducing a nervous horse to the joys of riding out.
An example of a stream we crossed on the old trails. Can you find Lyra? She was hunting a beaver and totally fell in.
The new barn is made for easy trail riding, though. The property backs up to a local park, and the trails are designed for multi-use. They're flat, maintained, and very welcoming for horses, people, wheelchairs...etc. There are trail heads starting right from the pastures, and the place is quiet and open. Rocks are minimal, there are no creek crossings, and the underbrush is basically nonexistent. It's trail riding on easy mode.

I started by taking Bast out on an in-hand hike. He was a little nervous about leaving the other horses behind, but was a really brave boy. That is, he was brave until we got to the river overlook. The sound of the rushing water started to upset him some, so we turned and went home.
Forgetting all about the scary trail when confronted with overgrown rested pastures.
A couple weeks later, a friend asked if I wanted to join on a quick ride into the woods. The boarders at this barn are mostly trail riders, and seem to be making it a mission to get my little ring-baby out into the woods. I agreed to head out.
Bast and my endurance friend being brave heading back from the trail head. (Can you spot the tiny Lyra speck up ahead?)
Bast was a total star on this ride, and really impressed me. He led the whole time, confidently. He checked his footing carefully and didn't launch down inclines or slow way down on the way up. When the footing became slightly wet in one part, he marched right through without looking twice.
Motoring down that trail! ❤️
In all honesty, he was having fun out there! When we got back, I had to text Liz immediately. She's been joking Bast wants to be my endurance ride, so I knew she'd enjoy hearing about his successful adventure.
Hard to tell, but if you look through the openings in the trees at ear-height, you can see the Potomac River. This is near one of the big river overlook spots in the park. Look how calm he is, even with the sound of the rushing water!
Since that first ride, I've taken Bast out solo a few times. Once by myself with just Lyra, and once while a friend hiked out with the dogs. Both times he was a complete star, even when we ran into other horses who passed us heading home (he got antsy standing while they passed, but walked on confidently without them) and unfamiliar hikers on foot.
Must always check out trail signs. LOL!
The last ride we went on was longer than the rest, and in the high (horrific) heat of a massive heat wave. He handled it  super well, and even though he was a bit upset about being alone (he called twice to other horses) he confidently moved forward. I took a bit of new trail to him, which required me to hop off once to coax him past a huge sign (clearly a demon). Once past, I was able to  mount him from the ground and continue quietly.
More river views! I love this wide open spot!
I can't wait to get him out more and enjoy riding outside the ring! Anyone else out there struggle to get your young horse confidently trail riding? Does it make anyone else sad that your horse won't trail ride confidently?

18 comments:

  1. I’m just getting there with Carmen. She seems to reall6 enjoy it.

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    1. Go Carmen! Maybe she's starting to realize it's less work out there ;)

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  2. wow that is great. You have come so far with him. How exciting! And Lyra cracks me up. It is like a Wheres Lyra game ;)

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  3. Way to go Bast! I miss the trails at my old barn, they were so instrumental in Ruby's training at the beginning. Now I just have a little half mile "baby trail" at my house, but I'm hoping to expand it soon!

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  4. Fiction is confident on trails but really flips out the moment we turn back towards home. It's a constant fight with him from that point forward, no matter what I do, so it makes trails (at least solo) completely mentally and physically exhausting. Since I never can find anyone to trail ride with, which makes all rides solo, I don't trail ride often anymore.

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  5. to get trails like that around me i have to trailer, but in 5-10 min trailer rides there are tons of parks with very similar trails. it's nice you have a barn full of trail riders who are anxious to go out with you - makes it so much easier than going alone!!

    me, i usually wait until stacey (from the jumping percheron) demands I go with her and then she picks me and my dumb baby up. klein is a literal rock and an excellent trail mate.

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    1. Oooh having a bombproof horse to bounce off is soooo worth it!

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  6. I'm hoping to do some in-hand hikes with Niko this fall! Our barn has a lot of groomed trails that I'd like to take advantage of.

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  7. I love that Emi has become a confident trail partner. I really enjoy getting out of the ring and riding for the pleasure of it.

    Nice job getting Bast out. It sounds like he'll make a great trail horse.

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    1. I don't think he'll be as rock solid as Guinness, because he's a bit too herd bound. But, we'll see.

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  8. I thought Murray was a pretty decent trail goer, until we went on the trail adventure at my MIL's. then I realised that he's a pretty decent cross-country-track goer... and trails with woods and anything unexpected make him a little upset. But we're moving to a land that has many trails and WINE at the end of some of them, so I'll be highly motivated to get him on them.

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    1. Haha wine is an excellent motivator... for people. Maybe bring Murray some alfalfa. ;)

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  9. I definitely agree with you, it's so important to get them out of the ring. Glad that Bast is really enjoying this part of his program!

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  10. Wooo, well done Bast! I've got to re-introduce my horses to hacking out again now that we've moved! Slightly terrifying going for the first rides, but it will be good!

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