We would be walking along fine, but then he would hop into the air with a shake of his head. Each time, I sat back and gave a sharp jerk of the reins. His little tantrums were so obviously from inexperience that it was hard not to just laugh at him.
No matter how hard he spooked or slammed on the brakes, I had no fear. There is not a mean bone in this horse's body. He is just searching for the correct answer when he doesn't know how to deal with what's in front of him, and for this ride, I did a lot more schooling and a lot less babying.
Once the adrenaline spikes smoothed out, Izzy was very brave. For the most part, he marched forward without the need to tuck in behind Taz. As we got closer to the overgrown section behind the lake though, Izzy started to show some hesitation at going forward. He obviously remembered that spot.
KG and I had decided beforehand that we were going to dismount and lead through that section, but I needed Izzy to see the stopping as my decision, not his. When we could see the thicker bushes ahead, Izzy stopped and tried to dodge left and right. I kicked him forward until he had committed to going on, and then I asked for him to stop. I slid off and led him without any trouble through the overgrowth.
It's when a horse has nowhere to go that they panic. So instead of having to hold Izzy back for fear of rear-ending Taz, I was able to ask for a whoa to slow him down, but then I gave him his head again since he had room in front of him.
I let out a big laughing breath of relief when we finally got to the bottom. KG laughed with me, but she also recognized how nerve wracking it can be to ride a green bean down a trail that is narrow and steep. I know Izzy felt my nervousness as well, but it's risky to ride down stuff like that. We made it safely and even though we were both a bit anxious, I think making it down together gave Izzy some confidence.
In the last half mile, Izzy started to get a bit naughty. The trail gets a little narrower there with some deadfall off to the side. There's also a cage covering some kind of pump that he thinks is quite scary. All of this gave me a wonderful chance to work through softening the inside rein and moving him laterally away from my leg.
He wanted to tuck in behind Taz, but in doing so, he was avoiding my aids all together. At this point in our trail experience, I knew he needed to start listening to me, so I took hold of the rein he was resisting and crossed it in front of me toward the opposite shoulder. This forces them to let go through their neck and jaw. As soon as he let go, I asked for a slight leg yield.
After just a minute of work, he started giving through his poll and jaw without the need for me to be so heavy handed. As we finished walking along that section, I shifted my weight from one seat bone to the other as I asked for a change of bend. The switched flipped, and suddenly he was soft and bending.
Once we arrived back at the barn, we tied the horses up and let them have a snack. Izzy got a little worried when Taz went to use the wash rack, but it was more of an I don't like this tantrum rather than an OH MY GOD I'M ALONE tantrum.
I hope to hit the trail with KG at least once a month, but it's hard to do when there are only two weekend days a week. We're looking at Labor Day for our next ride. I am also hoping to get a dressage lesson from Chemaine each month. Which leads to me to ask, how many weekends are there each month?