Sunday, July 19, 2009

On A Roll

On Sunday I went to the barn, saddled Steen and then made him stand quietly and wait for around 20 minutes while 10 other people also saddled up their horses. Then we all hit the trail. We had kids and newbies present, so it was a walking ride. Steen and I ended up third in line at the beginning, behind Heater on Tommy and a neighbor on her horse - both pretty fast walkers. Steen kept up nicely without wanting to get too close to the horse in front of him. We ambled through a corn field and then had to stop at a gate to leave Cathi's property, at which point our six-year-old companion reached her maximum stress level and had to be taken back by Heather, and the neighbor decided to turn back as well. So, Cathi came to the front on Chewy, followed by Teri on Freebee, because those two horses, both young and very green, are happiest when they are close together. So I held my third place position.

Freebee was a slower walker than Tommy, which made for a slightly increased tendency for Steen to get closer than I wanted. He never got too bad, but he did start to get upset when asked to back off repeatedly. Freebee didn't seem to mind and we never got close enough to be impolite, but I'd have been happier if we had about another four inches of space consistently. Something to work on, I guess.

We continued to amble along a grass track and eventually curved along and our trajectory began to head back towards our starting point. We walked along a gravel road for a brief time, which Steen seemed totally fine with in spite of having no shoes, and went by Catalpa Corner - the evening facility that belongs to our vet. Apparently after the early August competitions are over we are welcome to ride there if we sign waivers. So that's kind of cool. Not that Steen and I will be going over jumps, but the cross country course is long and well-groomed and the jumps can be avoided. So, I might go check it out in the future.

When we returned to Cathi's land, she waited to close the gate, which put Freebee in the leader's position. But Freebee didn't want to go first so after a few unsuccessful moments of attempted persuasion, I offered to put Steen in front. We went, and he did great. He walked at a good clip and was looking around a whole lot, but never spooked or got upset about anything. We led the rest of the way home. Some of the other more advanced riders continued past the barn to have a little run, but I decided Steen's first memory of going out with a group shouldn't involving a lot of dashing around at the end, so I called it a day. I groomed Steen and praised him lavishly, then returned him to the pasture.

The ride took a little over an hour, and Steen's behavior ranged from downright relaxed to very curious to a little restless, but for our first trip out I am very pleased.

Most of the group stuck around after we put the horses away, and Brian and another husband and some extra kids and dogs showed up, and we had a fun evening of grilling and hanging out. It was a nice time.

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