It has not been the nicest spring, and while today only graced us with highs in the 30s, the sun was out and there was no wind. We bundled up, but shortly after getting to the barn realized we’d be able to tack up outside.
The herd was feeling a bit frisky, and when we went out to get our horses a couple others who have only recently been added to our pasture began to romp around. Steen had almost come to me, but then decided to run off after his buddies. Steen will usually come, and will always, always, let me approach him. But I would prefer him to come all the time. So I decided this was a good moment for a lesson in coming no matter what else is going on. It ended up being a bit more of a job than would have been ideal. Steen got pretty riled and I had to move him quite a bit before he finally conceded the point and came. Brian helped by blocking escape routes, and he had Bear on the lead by then, so we were all already warmed up before we even got saddles on.
The funniest part was Laredo kept coming up to me in this concerned way and kind of standing with me and looking at me like, “Look, I know the answer. I came. Isn’t that good enough?”
We did a few minutes more of warming up in the indoor arena. I worked Steen with the flag a bit more, but he was already very eager to please by then so I didn’t push him.
We didn’t have much of a plan when we headed out, but we wanted to ride outside. The strip was squishy in places, so we didn’t linger there. As we got towards the bottom, we saw the gate into the big pasture was open. In we went.
The horses were great. Bear was lively and moving without stiffness. Steen was quiet, walking with his head down, steering off my legs. We joked that they have finally met in the middle.
We rode through the big pasture and trotted up the incline into the treed lot. Steen was trotting out, but he was back on his haunches and listening. His trot was steady. We went the whole way up to the gate into the tree lot without me having to check him.
We went through the tree lot too, and by the time we got to the other end, it seemed we might as well head across the street and check out the salad bowl. We did a combination of trotting and loping to get over there, and Steen just felt great. He trotted when I wanted him to trot, loped when I want him to lope, and never sped up or slowed down without me asking. At one point I even brought him back to a walk while Brian trotted down the hill in front of us and loped up the other side. Steen’s ears were flicking between me and Bear, but he walked quietly until I gave him permission to run to catch up.
It was a great ride. I don’t actually remember the last time I’ve had such a fun and relaxing outing. Steen would move out, then stand or walk quietly. He never spooked, never shied, never even snorted at anything.
And Bear was great too. He was actually more apt to try to pop into the lope than Steen. Clearly, he’s feeling good lately. It’s nice that he’s in such good condition approaching his 18th birthday.
One funny thing I didn’t realize until halfway through the ride is this is the first time I’ve done a trail ride in a hackamore. Steen has historically been such a handful when we’re out and about, I had always felt hesitant about not having a bit. I’m glad I didn’t think of it until we’d already gotten so far into the ride. He was fantastic, and I felt entirely comfortable. I’ve ceased to think I have more control of a horse just because I have a piece of metal in its mouth. This ride was so good because we’ve been putting so much time into refining the details, working on precision, and getting our communication streamlined. Plus, I actually feel like I can be more precise and effective with a hackamore than a snaffle, so it was good to get this final milestone out of the way.
Ride Time: 1:25
Horseback Hours YTD: 22:55