Saturday, April 10, 2010

Awesomeness - Thy Name is Guinness!

I know that I sound like a Jewish mother. My horse-boy can seemingly do no wrong. (But really, if I'd had a blog of the last 6 years, it would have been full of whining & self-pity.) Having the right partner can make a world of difference!

This gorgeous afternoon, I decided to take Guinness back to our local national forest recreational area for a four mile hike. We haven't been there since November 15th.

After an uneventful haul over, we set out on the trail equipped with a halter, saddle pad, 22' line, reins looped to the handle on the pad, and my helmet also clipped to the handle. Our objective was to head down the main trail, cross a creek, take a windey side-trail around the pond, then get back on a main trail back into the parking area.

We started off with me in Zone 1 and/or 2. Guinness didn't pay any attention to the bikes or joggers as we left the parking lot, and seemed pretty calm, although he would startle a tiny bit and was content to follow me. He walked along sniffing the ground like a big dog, even discovering a fawn carcass. Once, when I stopped to answer a call from Michelle, he noticed my lack of focus and called to see if other horses were around - nope. When I hung up, he settled back down.

I sent him across the creek ahead of me twice, no issues. Then we started on the twisty, narrow, and steep path through the Mountain Laurel bushes. After I convinced him that I had a plan (he'd balked and stared at me as if to say, "I think that we should be heading back now"), he started to get more confident and frustrated at my slow pace. I sent him out ahead of me and I drove him from Zone 5 most of the rest of the hike.

It really inspired my confidence to watch how carefully he picked his footing and how boldly he approached the many wet gullies and small creeks. He clearly demonstrates his great-grandsire's (Tobe) talents on the trail! (Tobe was the foundation stallion of the Rocky Mountain Horse breed and was used as a trail horse in Natural Bridge State Park in KY until his death at age 37.)

After a long uphill climb, which he eagerly tackled, I was POOPED. In light of his enthusiasm, I decided to mount up. I secured the 22' to the saddle pad handle and switched to the clip-on rope reins. He willingly sidled up to a stump for me to mount.

As we headed down the trail (literally sloping downward toward the parking area), he seemed to be expressing the thought, "thank god I don't have her dragging behind me anymore"! He offered to gait and I took him up on it!! He slowed beautifully with me either lifting the rein, or "tromboning" it a little. We bent to a stop in both directions, just to prove that we could. After that, I pretty much let him have his head. I asked him to gait by holding the rein out in front of me and giving one smooch - success!

It was awesome. I didn't quit grinning until we reached the parking lot. At one point he was a little concerned about crossing over a huge culvert with water running through it, but I clicked him "yes" as he did it, and then we turned and faced it while I gave him a cookie. When we got within eyesight of the parking area, he began to get vigilant, so I dismounted and led him to our rig (a good habit anyway).

He hopped right aboard the trailer, despite the crew of ROTC guys gathered right next to the trailer armed with rakes & shovels (apparently there to work on the trails).

I rode him about a mile on the trail without any other horses around! It is so hard to believe that this little horse won't even be three years old until 16 days from now.


Michelle AKA arabhorselover1 said...

Awesome and congrats! You have the perfect partner, I am so happy for you. -Michelle/arabhorselover1

Ark said...

Congratulations Clare!!
You are really doing great things with Guinness! I am very happy to see how you and he are getting along so well with his training!!
He is going to be a wonderful trail horse.


Naturally Gaited said...

Thanks ladies. You two both also have potentially perfect partners and I look forward to reading more about their development!! :-)