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love that sweet face

Miles Lately

Miles and I have been together for 3 years now, and I think I’m finally starting to really figure him out. It sounds silly… like why would it take me 1,095 days to understand my horse and his needs? But that’s honest to goodness what it feels like. After our stellar final show of the season, I backed way off of riding Miles, and I plan to continue to only ride him lightly throughout the entire winter. So, what’s he been up to then?

miles off property trail rides fall 2016

Lots and lots of trail rides. I’ve pretty much only ridden Miles twice a week since the show season ended, and almost all of our rides have been out on the trails. We’ve done two off-property rides, where Miles was excellent, and we continued to build up our confidence outside of the ring. We can now:

  • Lead or follow in a group, no matter the location
  • Calmly walk through ditches and water, although sometimes away from home we still need a lead horse
  • Trot on trails, while leading or following
  • Carefully navigate rocky footing
  • Go down steep hills without somersaulting

miles october 2016

Back at home, I’ve gone on a few trail rides too — some with friends and a few by myself. No matter how much time off he’s had, or how “up” he feels at the beginning of the ride, Miles is always well-behaved. Each time we go out, I go a little bit farther and go a little bit faster. In fact, on Monday we cantered out in the open jump field for the first time! It’s amazing to watch my confidence grow outside the arena, and just how much Miles enjoys it.

miles between the ears november 2016

Our rides outside the ring are paying off in the arena too. One day last week though it had rained too much to go out on the trails, so Miles and I wandered around the property near the barns for a bit before trotting and cantering in the outdoor ring. Two jumps were left up and on a whim, I thought “let’s pop over them!” The first attempt was…. very sketchy — I didn’t ride AT ALL, which resulted in a terrible distance. But , as soon as I raised my eye and added leg, the perfect distance showed up and Miles jumped wonderfully. So well in fact, we came around to  the diagonal rolltop and jumped that too. He felt fabulous over the top of the jumps, really using his entire body, and he stayed balanced on the landing side and offered a very smooth lead change with zero attitude. The jumps were probably 2’3″ or 2’6″, so nothing earth shattering, but that was the first time I’ve jumped Miles outside of a lesson in over a year. Talk about a 180 degree turnabout in confidence!

love that sweet face

See? I think I’ve finally got Miles figured out!

Tracy

Fly On Over is an equestrian lifestyle blog devoted to connecting horse lovers around the world. By providing equestrians with practical tips and tricks related to horse ownership, discussing training techniques for horse and rider, as well as covering industry news.

15 thoughts on “Miles Lately

  1. Trail riding is the best confidence builder ever. And it takes awhile to learn a horse. I am still learning Q and it’s been 4.5 years!

  2. This makes me so happy to read!
    Having been through a turbulent patch with Kika, I know all about loss of confidence/faith/fun – trail rides and getting out of the arena/work mindset really helped us and continues to do so & I have had her almost 10 years yet I am still figuring her out. You guys are killing it 😄

  3. Aw, so happy for you! There is only so much you can know about a horse without just getting in the trenches and figuring things out together. You have certainly come a long way with him!

  4. I think most people underestimate how long it takes to build a good relationship with a horse. Like any partnership it takes time to get to know each other and develop a trusting bond.

  5. I’ve been told it takes a good year to develop a decent relationship with a horse – I imagine any kind of relationship past riding goes well past a year. Glad you and Miles are still happily “married” 😉

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