I went trail riding again on Saturday. I’m sure you all will get tired of hearing about this soon, but I am still just so excited – I’m riding my horse! On a regular basis! It’s just so cool.
Anyway, I went with Shari and her friend/coworker, Christina. Christina happens to be a large animal vet, so I’m happy to be getting to know her better. 🙂 We went to a place nearby that is just a nice, easy network of trails. They wander through woods, around cornfields and next to a lake. The weather was perfect, and the horses were all very well-behaved.
Shari brought her gelding, Rabbit; he’s a Quarter Horse, about 15, maybe 15.5 hh. I had my 16.2 hh Tennessee Walking Horse. And Christina had her 17 hh Thoroughbred, Wilson. Can you just picture that? Since Bill, our official (and only) cameraman, didn’t come this time, you’ll have to picture it in your head. To help you in your imagining, though, Rabbit is a bay, Valentine is of course black, and Wilson is a dappled grey. He’s a former racehorse who also was a show jumper, and Christina rides him with English tack. What a motley crew – Shari on her Western saddle, in jeans and a baseball cap; Christina on her little English saddle in breeches with half-chaps and a riding helmet; and me on Shari’s nice trail saddle (looks like a Western/English combo) in jeans and riding helmet. You wouldn’t think we’d make be a good trail group, but we did. The horses all got along famously, and as long as we were only walking, things went pretty smoothly.
Every once in a while, though – okay, several times – Wilson wanted to go just a wee bit faster. Valentine wasn’t going to take that laying down. He was like one of those drivers you encounter, who isn’t going too fast until you try to pass them, and then they speed up. The faster Wilson went, the faster Valentine wanted to go. And let me tell you, a 17 hh Thoroughbred can go pretty darn fast.
I’ve learned something else too: a former show horse is not necessarily a good trail horse. My horse, as I’ve mentioned before, was a fancy show horse. He was what you call a “big lick” Tennessee Walker. That means he was one of those horses with the big ol’ pads on his front feet, keeping his back end way down and lifting his front feet way up in the air. Pretty impressive in a show ring, but not so very practical for everyday walking. What I’m saying is, he has one gait that is really, really smooth. It’s called a “running walk.” All his other gaits are, shall we say, uncomfortable for the rider. His walk is okay – rougher than a normal horse, but tolerable. His trot is really bouncy. His canter makes it nearly impossible to stay in the saddle. We never made it to a gallop, thank goodness. I think a project in the near future will be to find someone who knows how to direct a gaited horse, so I can learn how to keep Valentine in that nice running walk. I could sit that all day.
We also took our horses into the lake. That was an adventure. Rabbit would not go – Shari had to get off and lead him reluctantly in. He has a “thing” about water. Wilson would absolutely not go. Christina got off and tried to pull him in; he pulled her out. She got back on and Shari and Rabbit stood behind, with Shari slapping him on the rump with a crop as Christina tried to get him in. No way, sister. Finally they settled on getting him to stand at the water’s edge, which he finally did. And Valentine? The first time we tried, I got him to the edge but he turned around. Then after the Wilson fiasco, I tried again and he went right in. I was so proud – two experienced horsewomen, and I, the novice, was the only one whose horse obeyed with no trouble! Later, we found a better, smoother beach and all three horses went right in, and had a high old time, pawing and splashing. We can’t wait for summer, when getting splashed will be fun for the riders too.
All in all, it was a really great day. Can’t wait for this Saturday! I wonder where we’re going?