Monday, October 26, 2009

Back Into the Woods

This afternoon, my son and his dog, Zippy, & Guinness and I went for a walk in the woods at the local National Forest recreation area. In the short time since we were there last, all of the leaves have turned and many have fallen. It looked and smelled like a totally different place.

Guinness hopped right on to the trailer - literally since he seems to think that his back feet have to jump up to get on board. Thank goodness for his cheap leg wraps with velcro closures as they have protected his legs innumerable times. They are also wonderful for acclimating horses to having stiff, noisy things around their legs and feet. He hardly notices them any more and has stopped his "moon walking" when they are on.

The park was pretty empty when we arrived, but Guinness seemed to recognize where he was and didn't call at all. We all headed down the same newly-discovered trail that we explored last time. Guinness took the opportunity to sample everything that he could with his mouth: rotting stumps, bark, dead leaves, mossy soil, my pony-tail, etc.

Guinness was a champ. I sent him over lots of obstacles, and drove him often from Zone 5. I seem to be getting better with the 22' line and have discovered that it it is easier to manage it from Zone 1 if I can throw a loop of it up over Guinness' back. That way, the weight of it doesn't confuse him and it doesn't drag the ground. Whenever he stepped off of the trail, wrapping his rope around a tree, I sent him back and then directed his nose around the tree to free him. Eventually, he seemed to get the hint to stay on the trail.

Once, he was ahead of me heading down a slope through a hairpin turn, when he turned his head around toward me and slid not-so-gracefully down the hill. I was startled to hear a mountain biker just behind us! We all pulled over to let him pass, and then Guinness started whinnying for the biker (about 5 times) as he rode away. It was pretty funny. I guess that Guinness thought that the biker had joined our group? I'm lucky that he didn't take off after the biker, dragging me along behind him..

When we returned to the parking lot, we walked right past two ladies enthusiastically hula-hooping! (Why??) It was a very strange sight and my son and I stared (grinning), but Guinness didn't bat an eye.

We have decided that the next time we return, Guinness will be wearing his bareback pad along with the dressage pad with the big saddle-bag pockets in it. That way, he can tote our water & snacks.

We loaded up without any issues and heading home. Guinness was sweaty under his fuzzy winter coat, but none the worse for wear.

Next Monday, Guinness & I will be attending an arena-based playdate along with several other horses, and the Monday after that, we may try a trail walk/ride at another location with our friend, Sierra. I'm hoping to ride him a little bit during both events. I'll keep you all posted!

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