Before I mention our first solo mission, I must say that I'm very happy to report that I FINALLY got a fly mask on Mac! For some reason the flies LOVE him and he could have 100 flies on his face and buzzing around his eyes. Flies are gross and dirty and annoying and so I was determined that Mac would wear a fly mask. He was scared of it at first so I just hung it on the gate for a couple days so he could sniff it and get used to it. Then we did some ground work in preparation for me working on desensitizing him to the mask. Once we did that I kind of hung it on his ear and took it off a few times, then I hung it on both ears and took it off...off, on, off, on, etc. until finally I got it over both ears and eyes and velcroed it on. Ta-da!!! No more flies in his eyes! He's not crazy about getting it put on every morning but I think he appreciates its purpose.
So yesterday we had our first solo mission, aka our first real trail ride by ourselves off our property. Since it was very hot we went up to the forest so we could be in the shade of the tall pines. He loaded on the trailer fine and traveled well. Once there, there were other people and horses in the staging area tacking up to go on their ride. They hit the trails before we did and Mac whinnied for the horses. I finished grooming and tacking up and went in the opposite direction than the other people did because I didn't want to feel like we were trying to catch up with them.
Mac has a super walk - very forward, marching, big, ground-covering. He sometimes looks at things on the ground, like a rock or log being hit by sunlight, but doesn't do anything silly. It was funny because it seemed like he remembered where to go from last weekend! At various times during the ride he put his nose on the ground to . . . sniff? I don't know what he smelled but I guess it was interesting.
As we came to the end of one trail and needed to decide where to go I checked my watch and saw that because of his big, forward walk that we had covered a lot of ground in a short period of time. I decided to turn left down the trail, then take a loop back to the same trail which I could then take back to the staging area.
When we turned down the trail his walk got bigger and bigger and he wanted to trot. So we trotted a bit. Then I realized that he was "tracking" his horsey friends! He started whinnying for them, although they never answered back. It is not really fun or cute to be on a horse who is whinnying and wants to be somewhere else so I turned him around and made him trot and canter up the trail and away from where he wanted to be.
He has a great forward walk, a good trot, but really no endurance at the canter so we didn't canter for long, although he is comfortable and steady. We came back to the walk and finished the ride. Wow, it was less than an hour! Oh well, I thought it was a good first solo adventure and I had fun.
Today we went back to the same place but this time we met my friend on her horse (we had the buckskin-twin adventures!) and did a similar ride. Mac was a good leader on the trails and this time we went into parts of the forest where he hasn't been before. He was a very good boy and I think my friend enjoyed the ride as well. It sure was HOT today, though!
When we got back to the trailer we gave the horses some water and a sponge bath and let them graze for a bit before loading back up and heading home.
I wish I had trails like that out my door. I really love trail riding - it is such a fun thing to do with your horse and you see so many pretty sights. You can go as slow or as fast as you want and there are no arena fences to dictate your boundaries. Just you and your horse in the open space - fun, fun, fun!!!
I do think, though, that it is time for Mac to start his formal education so I will see if my dressage trainer can start working with him this week. He needs to learn how to long-line so that he can learn the finer points of contact in the bridle, including reliable "whoa" and steering!