Inspiration and a Warm Day
The temperature headed up to somewhere around 50 F today. It was really quite lovely out. After a trip to the feed store to take advantage of $2 off on each bag of feed, I decided to ride my own Boys.
I took Tucker out first. I was going to ride a little in the arena first, but he made it quite clear he wanted to go out for a trail ride. Despite the fact that I haven't ridden him in a couple weeks, I decided it was worth a try, so out we went.
Interestingly enough, he turned to the right to take the "Tucker Trail" in the same direction as I'd handwalked him the other day. Fine, I thought, and fine it was. We had a nice quiet ride through the first part of the woods. There is a lot of winding around we have to do now due to all the hurricane dropped trees on the first part of the ride. Then the woods road is clear for a bit. There, Tucker took it upon himself to trot. I let him, taking a chance that he'd not get out of control. I slowed him back to a walk just before we got out to the cornfield and for one brief moment, my heart leapt into my throat. He pulled one of those TB squealing head tosses and threatened to do something naughty. I corrected him quickly and tried to settle him back down. It took a little effort, but then, he managed to control himself and go back into a fairly settled walk. Then we hit a patch of good grazing grass and I let him have a nibble. That did the trick and the rest of the ride home was just fine. Phew!
After I fed Tucker his obligatory carrot, I saddled Chance up. On the way out along the field, I trotted him just a little to see how he felt. I won't say he was 100% perfectly sound, but he felt pretty good. So I took him on the slightly longer trail, just keeping him at the walk. If I could count on the weather and footing being good for a while, I'd gradually start trying to leg him up to see if getting more fit helps, but this winter has so far been incredibly erratic weatherwise. I'll just have to do the best I can by him and see how he progresses on his own, riding whenever I can safely do it.
Toby was showing a lot of interest in the activities, so I told him if he'd like, I'd take him out on a very short trail ride to. To my surprise, for the first time in months, when I approached him with the halter, he stood waiting for me and then rather eagerly followed me in to the barn.
Now it has been months, perhaps nearly a year since I've ridden him. He had made it clear time and time again that he had no interest in any kind of work And, considering that he is nearly 24 and worked hard for me all his life, I indulged him.
Imagine my surprise when he could hardly contain his enthusiasm once I was in the saddle. He made a beeline for the gate to the woods, and it was all I could do to get him to stand still while I fastened the chain behind us once we were out. Then he marched out along the trail in a lovely, forward, eager walk. It was clear he was having a wonderful time. He completely ignored Tucker's whinnies and just kept going. He was having so much fun I took him on the Tucker trail instead of the little short loop I'd planned. At most, we were out for all of 15-20 minutes but Toby enjoyed every second.
Honestly, of the three horses, he felt the soundest, and was clearly the best ride of the day! I was in happy tears by the time we reached the gate again. He was just a delight and an absolute surprise in his attitude. I was thrilled and apologized for not trying to take him out before. Apparently, it was something he really wanted to do.
So, since Toby is "the Man" I will make a point of riding him out on the trail whenever I can, and whenever he wants to go out. It will take a long time to build up his fitness--if ever--but we'll take it along slowly letting him decide how much he wants to do. After all, he only deserves the best!!
I am happy as can be with all three Boys tonight. Tucker is still a bit tricky and can be scary out there, but a trail riding we will go. Besides, sometimes in the winter, it's the only way to ride.