So we've been troubled by the holiday busyness and the bad weather, and riding time has been pretty slim. My Tuesday class is over, and my weekends have been full, so its been hard to find the time. I could get up an hour early and give up my current "hour of sipping coffee on the couch trying to wake up" in order to ride, but despite all my good intentions I just can't make myself do it when morning comes.
Wednesday we had a great training day. I trailered out to a friends house to join in on her appointment with the barefoot specialty trimmer. I was super happy with her work, and it was a good excuse to skip out on work for the day. So first of all this was a much longer trailer ride than usual, and he was going alone. We have three set places to train: home, the covered arena for class (10 min trailer ride), and the big arena (20 min trailer ride). He's used to those places, he's secure there, and my mare usually is around so he's go his security blanket. So needless to say when he arrived at this big open pasture with 14 horse staring at him from a pipe barn, without his security blanket buddy, he was more than a little overwhelmed! He wasn't naughty, just hot, and constantly distracted. When I took him back up to the trailer and tied him for 10 minutes before tacking him up he neighed his head off the whole time. They were huge full body neighs! His little stubby tail would shoot out and shake everytime! So funny. But when I actually took him down to the arena to lunge him, he was surprisingly quiet and relaxed. I rode with the friend and her husband around their 20 acre pasture. It was great trail training with a good gradual hill, lots of crossings through a natural creek bed, bumps to go up and over, and ground poles to walk over. He was a star! He normally follows my mare because she walks so much faster, so I expected him to follow the other more experienced horses. From the very beginning he took the lead and bravely walked wherever I pointed him at a nice forward pace. We trotted up the hill, and practiced stopping and backing up the hill while we walked back down. He did spook once, and half spooked a second time, but we easily recovered and continued on as planned. (And now I at least have an idea how he'll spook.) He seems to be a "spin to the right and stop" kind of horse, and his half spooks are just the sort where the seem to jump to a halt. Overall is was a really great training experience, and he's definitely ready to start trail riding.
Since then he's done nothing, but I've got a goal now. There's a local schooling show with a couple of walk/trot classes on January 10, so I have just under a month to get him going enough to try his first show! Yeah!