At Least Most of the Time
I rode everyone today as the weather was lovely. Dry, in the 70's, with a very light breeze. Yummy!
I took Toby out for a hack in the woods. On the first part of the trail, I could hear a motorbike/ATV engine revving somewhere off to the left. That's where the lake is and all kinds of hills and banks. I hadn't planned on going that way to I headed right, off to the east to follow the woods roads. The bulk of these trails are wide enough for a small car and, aside from some ruts, they are nice and clear.
I crossed the center area, and headed out towards the back of the Park where the flooding is, thinking I might do a little scouting. In that section, the trail narrows down. Two friendly horses might be able to travel side by side, but it would be tight. Just as I reached the clearing under the power lines, I heard the revving engine bearing down on me. Sure enough, a noicy mini-bike was bearing down on us around an almost blind corner. I turned Toby to face it and started shouting and waving my arms. Whew...about 20 yards away, the guy saw me and stopped. He hopped off the bike and said, "I'm right here! I'll turn it off." And he shut off the engine.
Toby was dancing a little at this point, but keeping his head. Once the engine was off, he settled. I told the guy to just wait until I could get out of the woods. I headed off, trotting a little when the ground was OK as there are some little rocky ruts and a rutted hill in that section. The biker followed, first walking his bike and then riding it very quietly at a low rev. When we got to the field, I thanked him and he....we, he apologized for interfering with my ride. Then he went one way and I the other.
The bikes and ATV's do rattle Toby because they tend to come roaring along seemingly out of nowhere. So far, most of the riders recognize the danger of barreling down on a horse, but it really does worry me. I am sure I convey that concern to my horses, so it doesn't help. In the old days, my Russell would go after the mini-bikes as if he was going to attack. That usually intimidated the kids on them pretty quickly. My current crop of horses--perhaps with Chance the exception--are more buck and run.
Safely home again, I saddled up Chance and took him into the ring for a short school. He was decidedly laid back, definitely not into the concept of giving to the bit, but he was a good boy. Good enough that I...I asked him for canter!!
Yes, for the first time under saddle, I told Chance to canter and he did. I choose the long side of the arena next to the woods where the fence line is well defined. The first time he gave me about 4 strides on the right lead even though we were on the left hand. The second time I had about 7 or 8 strides on the left lead. Then, going on the right hand, I got about 7-8 more strides again on the left lead. But, that is more than OK for now. In the first place he was a quiet as could be about it. He was moderately obedient to the voice and seat aid and his canter felt really smooth and comfortable. I am as pleased as can be.
We then went out on a 10-15 minute hack in the woods. Fortunately the minibiker was gone, so we had a nice quiet, slow, relaxed walk the whole way.
I schooled Tucker for perhaps 20 minutes, first just warming him up so he felt forward. I had the dressage whip and was able to flick it on his haunches to add to my leg. He accepted it perfectly well without a sign of protest and moved right out with each flick.
From forward and long, I worked him into a frame and challenged him a bit with some half halts and rebalancings. He never blinked and eye, made a face or resisted, keeping his "forward" the whole time even if my aids got a little strong. At the last canter tours, I played upper level and, first on the left, rode a little pirouette. Well, bust my buttons, if he didn't do a fair approximation of a canter pirouette! Surprise! It didn't work as well to the right, but he kept the canter on a darn tight little circle and seemed quite happy doing it.
While he still spooked as some rustling in the woods, the rest of his attitude was super! No sign of shutting down AT ALL. No challenge to my driving aids and no annoyance at half halts. I still have to put in a full week of riding to see if as the pressure of schooling builds he keeps the good outlook, but right now, adding this ride to the show, I am more and more convinced the ulcer medication is making some dramatic changes in my tempermental boy.
I finished up my ride on Tucker with a short hack through the woods as well. He wasn't on top of the confidence ladder and thought he saw a few sun monsters in the light filtering through the leaves, but we had a good time anyhow.
I'll give the day an A- in the horse department because of the mini-bike. Otherwise, it would have been darn near perfect!!