Friday was the last day of winter. I was off of work early in the afternoon and it was a beautiful 14 degrees celsius out - that meant more outdoor hacking!
This time, I kind of took my time getting ready to ride. There wasn't anyone around at the barn when I arrived mid-afternoon, so I took Phantom for a hand walk down the driveways and through the field we ride in during the summer (she'll get ridden on the weekend). The field looked mostly dry and I was hoping to be able to do a proper ride in it, but my wet shoes disagreed with me.
I timed things right and when I was getting Cisco ready a couple of people showed up with the same idea as me. We all tacked up and went for a ride down the road.
First though, Cisco was a rock star at the mounting block. I've been working on getting him to stand still, including the use of a cookie after I get on. Standing still is not something new to him, but sometimes he's a little fresh and wants to set off once he feels my weight in the stirrup, so I've been reinforcing it.
Usually, when the gate and arena door are open he's a bit of a turd about wanting to leave right away (the block is right next to the gate). I was expecting him to be all "peace out" and have to be quick about getting my butt onto leather, but he stood rock still. Even while I took my time pulling a cookie out that was buried deep in a front pocket of my breeches. I was super shocked, but obviously very pleased.
We don't really have a lot of options on where to go if you want to head out for a ride. We are surrounded by farmland. When the crops are pulled off in the fall we can go out there, and there is quite often one field left fallow in the area during the summer. But they are far too mucky in the spring with the snow melt to have a pleasant ride.
Thus, we are stuck using the gravel roads. Which isn't super fun for a horse with no shoes. And whose feet are too wide for hoof boots to be an option.
|I still haven't brushed his mane.|
At least the roads aren't super busy, and a large chunk of the vehicles coming down the road would be horse people so they actually slow down. Unless it harvesting time - then you get a selection of huge tractors that take up the road and freak me out a little bit, let alone the horses.
Down the road we went. The horses were all well behaved, the sun was shining, and we got in a very short trot where the gravel wasn't as bad (Cisco started off strong but got a bit owie).
We rode down to the intersection and turned around to head home. One of the horses gets a little prancy on the way home, which she totally expected, so she ended up way ahead of us. Cisco is the odd duck who gets slower on the way home, so we ended up way behind, and he really wasn't into trotting to catch up when I asked him to.
On the way out I had noticed that the field opposite the barn looked dry along the side, so on the way back I wanted to try it. I took him in by himself, he happily trudged through ankle-high muck until we got to the edge, which indeed, was nice and dry.
Unfortunately, on the way out I hadn't looked at the field until we were mostly past it. Thus I didn't see the condition of the area where I would exit the field. Which, it turns out, was a lake.
So I had to turn around and go back the way I entered the field to get out of it. The only other option would be the ditches, which had snow on top, but I'm pretty sure Cisco would crash through the snow and into whatever amount of water was underneath. Definitely not a smart option.
I was expecting him to be unhappy about being turned around and having to walk away from the other horses who had proceeded down the road, but again, he shocked me by just going. He had one moment of rethinking his options when he had to walk through the big puddle just before we got back to the road, but I gave him a second and he calmly walked through and back towards the other horses, no rush. For a horse who likes the company of other horses in the arena, he sure isn't worried about them when outside.
We'll be stuck back inside for this week due to the weather. It's cooling off again and there is some potential for rain so the fields definitely won't be drying out enough.
I'm also going to have to make plans to get Cisco out for a real trail ride this summer. We've got a couple of great options about an hour away, but that involves a trailer ride - still an issue for Cisco. Once the roads dry up a bit we're going to start working on that again. This is going to be the year he relaxes in the trailer, I feel it!