I haven’t talked much about my riding goals this year, mostly because things have been pretty up in the air for a large part of the year. However, we’ve actually been doing pretty good with accomplishing things. One of my goals has been to get out of the arena and go on more trail rides. So far, this has been a smashing success. I’ve always felt guilty for not taking advantage more often of the 100+ acres of groomed trails right out our back door, but this year I went on more trail rides in the first two months than I did in the last two years combined!
There’s been a few things holding us back in the trail riding department:
- I’m a ring baby, and riding in the great wide open makes me a little nervous
- Miles doesn’t cross ditches
- Water and deep mud cause Miles concern
Luckily, all of these are very fixable with more experience out on the trail, with good trail guides. One great thing about Miles is that he will go out on the trails by himself, so I’ve been venturing out of the ring when I can — even if it’s just a walk around the paddocks to cool down. The more I get out of the walls of the sandbox, the more confident and relaxed I am in the open. He’s very solid about wildlife, and his spook tends to be raising his head and stopping… which is totally ride-able for me.
With all of these trail miles we’re logging, Miles is also getting much better about terrain. Whenever I can, we walk through mud and puddles (he’s perfectly fine with doing this in an arena), so I know he CAN and WILL. The more we do it, the easier it gets. It’s a small thing, but for me I’ve never gotten out of the arena much so I’m starting from scratch. Any victory is cause for celebration when it’s outside of the arena!
Finally, we’re taking advantage of the plethora of amazing, solid trail riders and horses at our barn. Whenever it works out, we love to ride out with friends who let Miles follow nose to butt through ditches, and go slow as we figure things out. This weekend, we had a wonderful seasoned guide (Remember the amazing Dax?), plus my trainer on Vinnie, help us out. They led us to our very first walk through the creek! Water has been one of our big trouble spots (mud, standing water, ditches with water…) so I wasn’t sure how the creek would go over. But I just put Miles right behind Dax, and he walked straight in, and was foot perfect for the entire time we walked through the water.
Now that we’re getting better and better out on the trails… I’m hoping to cross an item off the bucket list and compete in a hunter pace our barn horses in August. We’d just do the slow pace, which is walk/trot and no jumps, so basically a glorified trail ride. I’ve only done one hunter pace before (and it was eons ago), and not having to trailer anywhere to do it again is just to convenient to pass up. So there, I’ve said it… now I just have to keep working towards being ready to do it!