After our ride on Sunday, we arranged a trail ride for the next day. As she had the day before, Louisiana showed up right on time, this is seriously a huge deal to me. She has her own saddle, so I suggested she bring it as she would be more comfortable in it than in my endurance saddle. She didn't have a girth though, so it took some creative thinking to locate a girth that would fit my smaller boy.
As we headed out of the driveway, I explained the lay of the land, and told her that riding Sydney was a challenge in and of itself so I was trusting her to be more than just a passenger on Speedy. In other words, if all hell broke loose, she was on her own! Louisiana just smiled.
As we approached the little hill with the lunatic dog, I groaned. He was in the yard and waiting for us. I asked Louisiana to give me a little room as I knew that Sydney might not amble past the leaping, snarling dog. I was right; he took a few steps up the hill before the dog lunged at the fence, barking furiously. Sydney did a lovely, hell no lift and spin. He missed a row of mailboxes in his effort to flee the scene, for which I was very grateful. Once his feet were back on the pavement, he tried to propel us out of "danger," but a sharp tug on the reins brought him back under control.
As all of this was happening, I heard Speedy scrambling on the blacktop behind us, but Louisiana did a solid job of keeping him on his feet while not allowing him to bolt for home either.
Once both horses had a chance to reassess the situation, I kept up a steady, hey, dog. Hey, dog. Hey dog. Somehow, that encouraged him to sit back and listen rather than leap at the fence. For our second attempt, I approached the hill at an angle so that Sydney rode right at the dog. He was tense, but I was really pleased by how bravely he motored up the hill and passed by the dog. Behind me, I could hear Louisiana praising and encouraging Speedy by as well.
Once we reached the edge of the property, we had a good laugh about the whole thing and continued on our way chatting and promising the horses carrots for their bravery. The rest of the ride went really well. We strolled by the geese enclosure where just the week before Sydney had nearly had a heart attack, but this time there wasn't even a glance their way.
With Speedy's experience giving Sydney some courage, we even rode the last little bit of trail that I'd been too nervous to attempt alone. And of course, Sydney motored right through without any shenanigans. In fact, Sydney power walked in the lead the entire way. Louisiana had to goose Speedy a time or two to encourage him to catch up. I love that Sydney was so brave. If you'll remember, just two months ago I had a massive fight just getting him to leave the yard!
So what of Louisiana? I introduced her to JL, but I don't know if that will go anywhere; that's up to JL. I liked Louisiana, and I liked how she handled herself. She's confident, but not cocky. She's respectful and thoughtful and willing to adapt to the current situation. I kind of put the ball in her court; if she wants to come back and ride, she knows she just needs to let me know.
We'll see where it goes.