And Again We Ride
We were blessed with another gorgeous winter day with temperatures up around 50F and even some sunshine.
I went out in the early afternoon to do some work, or fun with the Boys. This time, although on first approach Toby turned away from me, he soon still as I put his halter on and led him into the barn. I'm beginning to think his initial running away is part of a master plan on his part to get some extra attention before getting down to riding. Either that, or he simply as a perverse sense of humor and enjoys watching me try not to lose my temper as I chase him down.
Once caught, the old boy was quite content as I brushed the mud off him. Fortunately he'd been wearing a sheet, so the bulk of his body did not match his head, neck, legs, and belly. I wouldn't exactly say he was clean when I finished grooming him, but at least he looked like a horse that had been tended to. We headed out into the woods on our ride, and once again Toby was enthusiastic and ready to go. He seemed to have such a good time in the woods I decided to extend the ride by going down the dirt road that crosses the cornfield and ended up at the farm up the road. Partway along, his energy seemed to back off a little so I shortcut my way across the field to take the short way home. Back at the barn, I gave him the obligatory carrot reward and and quick grooming before turning him back out to enjoy the sunshine without his sheet. I was more than warm enough.
I rode Chance next. I was happy when we trotted a little along the dirt road by the woods because he felt 100% sound. That encouraged me to take a bit longer ride up to the tree farm, along the pumpkin patch, back across the cornfield and finally through the woods. The footing on some of the dirt trails was slippery since the ground is still thawing from being frozen so deeply. We trotted along the gravel road at the tree farm, but had to walk most of the rest of the way. The footing in the cornfield wasn't too bad, but it's to risky to move out there unless you know for 100% that there are no groundhog holes in the row you've chosen. The woods trails had decent footing, but there are even more trees down and fallen branches across the trails making it more like a maze to navigate than straightforward passage. It's great for working on steering, however, and convincing Chance not to walk into a tree while he's playing tourist with his eyes and head really does require some riding skills. Carrot to the mouth back and the barn and turnout without his sheet.
I thought long and hard about riding Tucker and finally decided on the safer option of taking him for a handwalk through the woods trail he's not been on for a long time. He was actually quite polite about it all, not barging ahead or trying to through the narrow sections and keeping a reasonable speed when he could walk alongside me. The fact that I allowed him to stuff his face with grass whenever some nice tufts appeared underfoot may have distracted him enough to keep him calm and cool, but I'll never know. I was just pleased he was a good boy.
Another carrot reward finished the day and Tucker was out in the sun without his sheet. Bless both him and Chance for not rolling in the mud because at late feed I had to put their sheets back on because rain was on the way. (It's raining now and while not too cold, it's certainly miserable out there.) Toby, of course, rolled and needed another good brushing before I was able to dress him.
He surely does know how to get a little extra attention when he wants it.