Since he's still on the sore side, I did a 40-minute walking trail ride on Monday afternoon. As always, my goal was to walk my regular neighborhood loop with a horse who was relaxed and happy to be there.
Since that is a "goal," it means that we're not really there yet, but like I talked about in my Someday post, it's important to recognize the good things we have Today.
When I first asked him to hack through the neighborhood on his own, we struggled to make the first turn without backing up, rearing, or bucking - not on Monday. He was still gawking, but it was in curiosity and not fear. I am okay with stopping to get an eyeful, but then it's time to move on.
After the puddle, we passed the Haner farm. The pigs and turkeys have been slaughtered, but Izzy still gave the pens the one-eyed ogle. Again, no big deal as he kept going forward. He was a bit tense, but he never questioned my plan to keep on marching.
We made the trek down the long street back towards the barn. It's about here where things usually start to fall apart. He doesn't want to walk past our property as he can hear Speedy calling to him. While he tried to do a shoulder lean, he kept on going without the rearing that he tried the week before. Good man, Izzy; good man!
From this point, I can either do a quick loop back to the barn, or walk through the neighbors' properties and go by the tipi and bushwhack a bit. It had been a few weeks since our last bushwhacking adventure, so I decided to go for it.
He was a sweaty ball of tension and nervousness by the time we got back to the barn, but I was so happy with him anyway. He showed me how he's going to behave when he's nervous at a show.
When Speedy gets anxious, which is actually hardly even visible to most people, he gets heavy on the bit and tries to hurry through everything.
When Izzy got anxious out there on the trail by himself, he coiled himself into a ball and couldn't move forward. He showed me that he is very capable of a natural piaffe and some serious collected canter. It was a great experience for me to ride him through the tension.
Trail work is easy for me, so even though my horse was bunched up underneath me, I let the reins hang loosely in my hand and rewarded any kind of forward stride that he could give me, even if it was a canter. For a little while, his stride was so tiny that we were probably advancing at only one mile per hour. It was okay though.
He gave a few little bucks, thought about getting light up front, but he kept moving forward. These trail rides will be good for him because he'll learn to eventually let go of the tension so that he can move forward. I didn't want to spur him forward. Instead, I wanted him to see, and feel, that he could go forward on his own. Nothing was there to stop him.
As soon as we crossed into our driveway, Izzy let out a big breath and relaxed. I asked him to walk a lap or two around the barn before I got off. I don't want him to think that being home is the answer. Being relaxed is the answer. So once he could walk around the property on the buckle, I hopped off.
This horse is so much more than I could have hoped for. He has natural ability, a good brain, and he's just fun to be around. I can't wait to see what comes next!