Coward's Way Out
Again it was a really nice day--cloudy, but nice. Did the barn chores in the morning, hung around doing nothing really worthwhile except to make a casserole and headed back out in the afternoon.
Cleaned stalls and under both run in roofs. Then I got Chance and took him out on a trail ride/hack (for all you Brits). This time I headed out to the Christmas tree farm by going along the edge of the Halloween pumpkin field. The only think that bothered Chance was one "dead" pumpkin lying in a pile of pulp in front of us. Out of respect for the dear departed, we detoured around and continued on.
Then I had to make a decision. Right to go along the Turnpike with all the noisy trucks and cars racing by--while at a distance of several hundred feet, still pretty disturbing--or left to go up along the edge of my road with trucks and cars whizzing by, but not so many. Since there were all kinds of things set up in preparation for the tree sales, I decided to go left, only to realize at that end of the driveway track, there were signs, barrels and banners advertising the tree sales.
Once again, however, Chance scored an A+ for taking all of this in stride including a bunch of farm machinery, a big huge black plastic pipe thing and items stored under blue tarps! He walks cautiously, attentively, but also bravely past it all. Once back on the dirt lane between cornfields, he marched along and even decided to head further away from home to go back the long way through the woods. What a great trail horse he is proving to be.
I rode Tucker next, giving him a short workout in the arena again, this time asking him to be even more on the bit for the most part of the session. Then we too headed out for a trail ride/hack in the woods. He was bold, forward, and very relaxed so when I got to the fork in the trail to either head home or head out to the ridge above the lake, I chose the ridge. That seemed to please Tucker who was enjoying himself....
Until....we got to the clearing that opens to the lake and we heard whistling and calling. There was a hunter out there with his dog. Trouble was, he was mostly noise and disturbance without being clearly visible through the tall weeds and bushes. Tucker, quite in contrast to Chance, assumes most "new" things are dangerous. He started dancing around. While he may well have settled if he'd actually gotten to see the hunter--but I am not so sure about the dog--the moments in between were getting darn scary.
Now, please note, Toby has a twisty buck and Tucker has a "rocket launch" buck with a ton of air time from an absolute standstill. Give him the piaffe impulsion he was building up today and we would have had major liftoff. And since I was the one destined to lift off, I decided to get off instead.
Call me coward, but I just don't have the seat to ride too much of that kind of stuff anymore. Then again, leading an excited 16.3 h Thoroughbred along a woody trail is not the easiest task either. Times like that all the training you've done previously on the ground really comes into play. I had to remind him dozens of times that it was fine to crane his neck and prance trying to see where that evil hunter/dog was, but that climbing all over me when he did so was not proper behavior.
By the time we reached the "safe" part of the trail home, there was no place for me to climb onto something tall enough to remount--I can't get on from the ground with my knees--so I had to lead him all the way home. Once back, I remounted in the arena and rode for a bit more, just asking for some basice obedience.
The best part was when I halted and asked for a rein back. He kept his head nicely down and stepped back about five lovely lateral backing strides, then moved forward as soon as I asked him to. At that, I dismounted and called it a night.
A ride and a half isn't too bad when the half ends well.