And the Heat is On!
I rode Tucker today.
He is decidedly the darker side of the Follywoods herd, in both color and performance.
I started out in the arena and worked him for about 20 minutes or so. He was moderately forward, but obedient. I would have liked more energy, but, on the other hand, he was willing, particularly when I began to work on some canter departs. We trotted a nice bit for warm up and I cantered from the trot at least twice on each lead.
Then, I practiced a bit of halt, reinback and trot departs, just to establish some more effort on his part to work off the hind end. Then I upped the ante and did some canter, halt, reinback, canter departs. No problem! We was fine on both leads and offered no protest. We did have one "shove the nose forward and drop on the forehand," halt, but otherwise, once I softened that one a little, all was well.
So, I decided a nice short hack through the woods would be a nice way to cool off--it was starting to get hot and the sun was finally out after several days. So, I took him back into the barn, sprayed him with some Mosquito Halt, put the fly mask on him and off we went.
He was very balky, mostly stopping with his ears pricked forward, listening for something I could not hear. I ignored that and pressed on. We walked along the field, and I should have suspected something amiss because Tucker was not trying to eat the tree leaves along the way.
The first bit into the woods was fine. Then we had to make a few twisty turns around the fallen trees. Tucker first tried to jog and a not so good spot and then I felt his back come up under me in a mini buck. I corrected him sharply for that, but his walk got shorter and shorter, verging on a nervous jog again. We managed to make it about halfway along the last part of the trail towards home, when he stopped again, ears sharply pricked, with his body all tensed up.
I decided to get off there and then and lead him home. I am not at all brave enough to ride through a bucking session if something scared him. Whatever it was kept him on the alert even with my leading him. He stopped a number of times to listen and stare off into the woods.
On the plus side, when I got back into the arena, I mounted up again and worked him for another fifteen minutes or so in some absolutely lovely trot and canter work. I was very forward, round, and on the bit with little effort on my part. That little extra excitement from the"invisible monster in the woods" paid off big time.
While I wasn't too happy with the aborted trail ride, I was quite pleased with the finishing arena exercises, so we ended on a good note.
I saw a deer out in woods near the barn the other day while I was walking. Maybe it was out there today. Regardless it just goes to point out that Tucker is not a particularly trustworthy trail mount. He does like to go out sometimes, but when he's uneasy, he can be a scary ride.
Or, I can just be a bit cowardly.