Thankfully, the weather forecast was yet again wrong. It was grey and windy, but there wasn't any precipitation coming down. I needed to ride in the morning if I was going to ride, and it was going to have to be outside - the 4H group had the arena booked for the morning, and last time I tried to ride with them it was a bit of a gong show (two separate jump lessons going on at the same time so I was stuck on the track).
My plan was to ride Phantom, since she's generally better behaved and is going to be off for at least a week after Tuesday's vaccinations. When I arrived at the barn though, she and her paddock mates were still working on their morning hay. I don't like taking her away from her food, so I was going to have to ride Cisco. Outside. In the wind. After a week off.
|Barn kitten is far too cute and gets away with far too much.
I had to do some groundwork with him to get his focus at least sort of on me before using a small step ladder to get on, at which point he stood really nicely, despite my awkward attempt to mount. Then we headed out to the field.
We were definitely getting jiggy with it for the first two laps. The first lap involved several small circles to try to keep us going in my intended direction, the second lap was just jiggy but with most of our steering intact, but by the third lap, he had chilled. Not on the buckle kind of chilled, but his brain stayed in his head, and we just walked.
We walked past the horse trailer with the red saddle cover that was flapping in the wind. We walked through the gap between two cross-country jumps - he stutter-stepped, but kept going. We walked over to check out the back end of the arena, which was full of people fixing and painting jumps.
We did a short trot around the field - there are gopher holes everywhere that you have to dodge, so it's not the best riding area. Thus riding a wiggly horse who bulges out around the turns is a little more stressful than it should be. So I didn't do much trot, but I was really happy with the pace that he set and his willingness to go.
|Just ridiculously cute.
And he was super! There was a moment of slight hesitation at a spot where there is a cracked asphalt chunk in the gravel driveway that he wasn't sure about, and we moved closer to the barn when a very clangy horse trailer looked like it was going to pass us (it stopped before that) and he was unsure about the tractor and implements parked at the end. Just past the barn I saw some yellow utility flags on the side of the drive and figured that might be the breaking point. But nope - they were of no concern - the shop that was set well back from the road was far more scary, especially since a big gust of wind swooped through as we were trying to pass. That was the only point where he seriously doubted my desire to keep going, but he pulled his big boy pants up and kept going. All the way to the tree at the end.
Despite the ride being pretty well only at a walk, I was super pleased with how brave he was. He was ridden outside last summer, so this isn't his first time ever, but we all know how those first rides in the spring can be so demoralizing when it seems that they decide to forget everything they've ever known.
So much cute.
For the most part, Phantom loves to hack out. Provided the footing is good and there aren't too many flies. She's not spooky, and likes to investigate.
She was happy on this day as I was able to mostly keep her on the grass on the side of the drive. Then we came back and wandered around the paths between the pens.
The rides weren't overly exciting in that we didn't really go faster than a walk, but they were good for their brain rides. It's been a long winter stuck indoors, and this was a good start to being able to spend some time outside this summer.