Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Solo Outing Number One

Today Steen and I had our first solitary adventure into the (sort of) unknown. Granted, we only walked up and down the trail the group ride took a few weeks ago, but we went far enough away from the barn not to be able to see it, any of the horses, or any of the surrounding buildings, and we did so without another equine companion and with me on Steen's back.

For the most part, I am satisfied with the experience. Steen was very nervous at first, but he listened and went, even if it took some persuading at the scarier parts. He never started acting like he was going to buck, never spooked, never panicked, never tossed his head or fought the bit at all. What he did do was try to turn around and take himself home. A lot. So, we walked up and down the mowed strip between the corn fields four times - the work of about half an hour. At first, going away from home he was nervous, agitated, suspicious of everything and made his bid to turn around every five seconds or so. Whenever we were heading home, he walked nicely at a even, quick pace on a loose rein, only trying to trot once or twice but quickly subsiding when chided. Then we'd turn around and he'd start with the antics again, but each time we went back in the "away" direction, the anxiety and attempts to turn decreased, and by the fourth time he even relaxed, dropped his head and his ears wobbled a bit, pointing off the sides. When I saw that, I took him home, feeling we'd accomplished enough for one day.

When Steen wasn't trying to turn around, I really enjoyed the ride. It's liberating to amble around in a place free of fences, with lots of open space, a big blue sky and waving corn in every direction. I've decided to take Steen out on the trail at least once a week from now on, so we'll see how he improves.

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