Lousiana showed up at the barn on Sunday morning, right on time. We checked the fit of Speedy's new girth, and then finished loading her saddle and lunch. Both boys hopped into the trailer without any fuss and we were off!
My plan was to park at the barn at Hart Park, ride east around the lake, and then head back. The park has a great trail system that allows you to loop around on different trails. You might be able to see all the way across to where you just rode, but at least it's on a different trail. My only concern was that it is very a much a there and back trail. I worried that as soon as we made the turn for home, Sydney's RUN button was going to be pushed; I needn't have worried.
By the way, I took ZERO photos so what you see are satellite images of the area.
We unloaded the horses in temperatures that were in the low 30s, but both boys were pretty quiet considering that it was a busy day at the park and cold to boot. We tacked both horses up and then spent the next 10 minutes trying to mount up, or at least I did. Sydney wouldn't stand still, and there was no mounting block. I had brought my little step stool, but it wasn't wide enough to use for a horse who is side-stepping all over the place. We finally located a large boulder, and I popped up with its help. Speedy was much more obliging for Louisiana.
We had to ride alongside the fluttering tape of the mountain bike course as mountain bikers flashed by us, but fortunately, both horses barely glanced at the hubbub. As Sydney walked away from the barn, he was jigging and his head was sky high, but I rocked the reins and urged him forward. By the time we crossed the highway and got down on the river trail, he had started walking but was still the looky-loo.
By the time we got to the lake, he was on the buckle and having a great time. Speedy, clearly poorly named, was doing his best toe dragging slow down! saunter. Louisiana spent the first hour asking him to trot to catch up every minute or so. What I loved about Sydney was that after the first time Speedy trot to catch up, he never flicked an ear at Speedy or tried to keep the lead even when Speedy overshot us and got ahead.
As we neared the eastern end of the lake, which is also the turn back towards home point, Louisiana and I braced for a fight. As we made the turn, Sydney asked if we could pick up a trot. I looked back at Louisiana, who agreed, and we were off. While Sydney wasn't in a perfect frame, he kept his head and listened to my half halts. He stretched out into a lovely, elevated trot that was relaxed and fun to ride.
When we finally came back to the walk, he did so willingly and returned to his methodical march. I dropped the reins down to the buckle, and announced to the world that I have two amazing horses!
We did a fair amount of trotting from the campground to the zoo, and each time we needed to walk, Sydney was back on the buckle. He never argued with me once. After we left the zoo area, we took advantage of the sandy footing and wide open trails for some galloping. Both boys got a little strong, but they were easily slowed down. And again, Sydney willingly walked on the buckle even after galloping.
The last hundred yards were spent nibbling on grass as we left the park proper and ambled again past the fluttering caution tape and the struggling cyclists. Both boys were happy to be back and looked around eagerly for their lunch. After pulling tack, Louisiana and I doled out beet pulp and rice bran and then covered both boy with fleece coolers.
We grabbed our own lunches and a couple of blankets that I keep stocked in the trailer and headed to one of the picnic tables for our own lunch. Both boys munched happily on their beet pulp and dug into the hay bag.
I should mention that this was the third ride in the Micklem bridle. I loved how I was able to really take a hold of him at the beginning without him bracing or getting tense. Within just a few minutes on the trail, he was walking and enjoying himself. I know that's not all thanks to the bridle, but when we went to the fox hunt, slowing him down took all of my strength. With the Miklem, I just rocked the reins a bit and sat tall. That's all it took to get a slow down.
And the rubber reins? Loved them for the trail. I am definitely keeping them for a while.
Louisiana is off to visit family until the end of the month, but I am pretty sure she'll call when she gets back. We have a lot more trail to ride this winter!