Those of us who train for CANTER often call ourselves Team Bad Decision because we tend to do things with our ottb’s that most people would consider a bit crazy. I think that Allie and Suzanne take the cake with their midnight bareback rides on horses who just started retraining but I think I could easily be convinced to do that as well.
Letterman is out of commission so when we got invited to go on a group trail ride at Fairhill this weekend I kicked around the thought of taking one of the newbies. Raymond was perfect on his first ride out so why not? Um, so he has only been in training for less than 2 months. He has a great brain! Well those of you who have ridden at Fairhill know that it can be an eye opener. Bridges, tunnels, water, wide open fields, hills, people on bikes, other groups of horses and so much more. It can make even a seasoned trail horse think twice but it is one of my favorite places to ride. I couldn’t say no.
Kurt and I convinced ourselves it would go just fine so we loaded up Raymond and Junior and headed up to meet the rest of the group. I think there were 12 people overall making for a nice group. Raymond was a bit wide-eyed when he got off the trailer. We parked across from the steeplechase field so there was a lot to see and he was sure he was at the races but all he did was walk a few circles. Kurt held him while I tacked up and Junior was actually behaved tied to the trailer.
When I got on I thought he might be a bit up but he just walked very nicely and we did some laps at the walk and the trot while waiting for the rest of the group to get on. I like to keep them moving in the beginning just as a way to focus them. I had Kurt carry a leadrope just in case we needed a lead at some point. See..that was good decision-making 🙂
We never ended up needing the rope because he once again proved that he is a total pro. We had to go over the bridge that crosses the highway pretty early in our ride and I thought that might give him cause for concern but he was great. He did a little flinch when a car passed under the bridge but who wouldn’t!
This is the bridge
Our second obstacle was the water crossing which is sort of scary because it has a concrete pad under it and a bridge next to it. I once got stuck there on a horse that I was eventing who decided there was no way he was going across. I had to wait for somebody to come along because I wasn’t letting him say NO. We had some other greenies on this ride who were not sure about the water so we all got bunched up trying to get everybody across. Those who were having issues pulled to the side and the rest of us walked across. Raymond looked for a second and then went right across. What is interesting to me is that he is so calm about it all. He doesn’t feel a bit nervous and never gets anxious as he starts going across these scary things.
Kurt had to go back and lead people across and one horse jumped and reared right onto the back of Junior who was the total packer and just towed him right across the scary water. Junior to the rescue!
When we got out into the cross country field it was potty break time and then we went to play in the water jump. I find that walk trail rides can be super-duper hard for green horses but Raymond walked flat-footed the whole time. Junior jigged and jigged as he is not one for walking 🙂 Raymond calmly standing waiting for those taking a break.
He loved the water jump and happily trotted in and out.
Everybody was trotting and cantering around and he didn’t mind that a bit which I found impressive. We headed down the xc field and while more people used the bathroom we went to jump a few jumps. Kurt gave me a lead down a nice line of elementary jumps and we jumped a little bench, ramp and house thing. Horses were going all over and he was just happy to go wherever I pointed him.
We headed out of that field and crossed through the scary tunnel to get over to the international side of the xc course. These tunnels are very dark with water running through them and of course they echo as you walk through. I wasn’t sure what to expect but he didn’t even bat an eye. I think this picture is on the 2nd pass through but you can see what they look like.
We were all going to do a trot and then I think somebody decided to canter which then turned into a gallop. I was slightly concerned because we were in a huge wide open field with big rolling hills and there were a bunch of horses. I was keeping my eye on Kurt as well hoping Junior was behaving but pretty soon Kurt was galloping ahead of me so I could watch him and just enjoy the ride. We booked it across those hills but he was listening really well. We came to a big downhill at a full gallop and that was a bit hair-raising but at that point everybody was galloping and there was no real choice but to go for it. Good practice for future foxhunting 🙂 He pulled right up when we got up to the group who had stopped and then proceeded to walk on a loopy rein which again impressed me. Some of them get revved up and don’t come back down after a gallop like that one!
Everybody was hot and tired so we headed back in and enjoyed the gorgeous view.
He tied nicely to the trailer while I cooled him down and then ate some grass and had a nice roll 🙂 Junior was more impressive because he can roll over multiple times on the end of the lead rope. I was holding them both as they did their rolls and had a good laugh. Funny boys! They got to hang out on the trailers under their fans while we had some yummy tailgate food.
Today we are all resting but the boys looked great this morning. Raymond will go up for sale here shortly. I was just waiting for him to get some weight and muscle back on. I don’t feel the need to put a bunch more time into him because he is just so straight forward!