December 19, 2011

Impromptu Trail Ride

Christmas is still a few days away, but we can call me walking out into the field and placing a halter on my pony's head without any trouble a Christmas miracle, right?  Because that's what happened on Saturday.  After last week's Walk Down, the bugger has finally decided that it's no use trying to get away from me, that I will always win, and that I will make his life mildly unpleasant if he resists.  So...success!  At least for me.  I think my barn-mates will need to go through the same process with him, but because of the way the farm is laid out, they don't need to catch him very often.

I had been hoping to work really hard on canter transitions, but Joe the Arabian Stallion was turned out in the indoor when I arrived, so it was trail ride or nothing.  The farm's owners own several hundred acres around the farm, so there's no shortage of conditioning areas and places to hack out.  Besides, I felt like a low-pressure trail ride was a good reward for him being a good pony in the field.

And so we walked.  And very soon after we started going, I realized a few things:
  • I was dressed for the cozy indoor, not an open-field outdoor ride.
  • It was cold.
  • It was windy.
  • My Mountain Horse Avioraz winter gloves were in the barn, and I was only wearing my beat-to-hell summer schooling gloves.
Within minutes, my hands were like curled claws around the reins, but I foolishly pressed onward anyway, and 25 minutes later, when we finally made it all the way around the single field I'd chosen to ride around, I was rewarded with a full-blown case of Reynaud's fingers.  Sigh.  And with Reynaud's fingers comes the intense pain of warming them back up.  Winter's officially here, ruining my rides.

Regardless of what was happening with me, though, I made sure that my ride was calm, quiet and confidence-inspiring.  Sensitive pony is highly aware of what's going on when he's on the trail, and is excited to be outside, but he's also...spooky isn't the word...reactive?  He's never spooked with me, but he does suddenly tense up and plant if he hears a sharp noise or something moves, and he walks along with his ears pricked and his head swiveling.  My plan was to do arena-type work as we walked, but (pansy excuse ahead) I just couldn't coordinate my frozen limbs well-enough and settled for working on my position.  It's important to get him comfortable with the sights and sounds he'll see and hear during cross-country, and also to help him to trust me and gain confidence in himself.

I tried to get a between-the-ears picture, but the little dragon doesn't like to stand still when he's being ridden out, so I couldn't get my gloves off in order to work my smartphone.  Maybe next time!

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