Monday, May 11, 2009

Halo's First Trail Ride

Well, it wasn't so much as a ride as a long walk in hand, but Halo did very well on her first expedition away from the barn. Heading off the barn property we walked alongside a hay field and then out onto the road. Most of the walking we did was on the pavement, and then onto a packed dirt road that went around the other side of the hayfield.

Several cars passed, but Halo was completely nonchalant. I am very glad that there was a busy road next to her pasture at the previous barn! Traffic doesn't seem to bother her at all. I'm hoping we'll be ready to walk in a Christmas parade this year, and this was some good encouragement in that direction.

What turned out to be really nice is that one of the other ladies at the barn also walked her horse, so we had some company at our slow pace. When the riders went off ahead to trot and canter, Halo still had a buddy nearby. The only bad behavior she offered was a little bit of pushiness when the other horses took off. To correct her, I stopped her and made her back up. The first time I asked her, she reared up, the little punk. I corrected her and asked her to back up again with all four feet on the ground, and she did.

For the most part, she traveled willingly on a loose lead and didn't try to charge off. We stopped several times to eat some grass on the side of the road, which she seemed thrilled about. She's very food-motivated. Due to my stupidity she also had the opportunity to pony for the first time. I am not very heat-tolerant, and the heat index was close to 100 yesterday. When we were still a ways off from the path back to the barn, I started fading fast. So one of the women riding let me sit double with her and pony Halo from there. It was awkward, and Halo was a little confused at first, but she caught on quickly.

Overall, I was very happy with the first trail experience! I hope to have her hauled out to a couple of the trail rides this summer so that she can get some experience being in new places. By the time I'm actually riding her, I want her to be exposed to lots of different things so that nothing takes her too much by surprise. Our next adventure will be a cattle drive at a nearby ranch on May 24th. I can't wait!

Here are some pictures, and proof that Texas is not just cacti and tumbleweeds!

To follow up a little bit on the bucking issues from my previous post, some progress has been made since then. Wednesday she got longed with the synthetic saddle (bucked at the canter, but we pushed through it), Friday she got longed with my extremely heavy Circle Y (walk trot only, no bucking), and I longed her yesterday before the trail ride with no tack (walk-trot-canter, no bucking). So I think I'm going to try doing a lot of saddled trot work and hold off on the canter for a week or so to see if that improves things. Hopefully she'll get used to things flapping around up there to the point where none of it bothers her anymore.


Nuzzling Muzzles said...

It's good to know there are some horses out there who can handle being led away from home without freaking out. I haven't had the pleasure to experience that yet.

Leah Fry said...

Both of mine just throw a fit if you try and take one without the other. Can you say "buddy bound"?

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you've got good plans both for the trail work and the lungeing - and she's adorable! For a young horse, it sounds like she's basically very sensible.

spazfilly said...

@NM & Leah - I think it helped that the other horse walking in-hand with us was one of Halo's pasture buddies. Although she was definitely excited by the other horses taking off, she had a familiar face nearby. I'm sure if we attempt a similar adventure where she's the only horse walking, it might be a different story!

@Kate - Thanks for the compliment! I hope the plans work out well. She's mostly sensible, though the blog has its name for a reason - she definitely can be a spaz, especially when confronted with new and scary things. So much of training Halo is trial and error (which to a point is fine). I think it's just important for me to keep in perspective that if I find myself outhorsed, or creating problems, it will be time to talk to a professional.

meg said...

Lies. Texas is only tumbleweeds. That is obviously a photoshops. I can tell by the pixels.

spazfilly said...

Nah, the crappy pixellation is because these were taken with my camera phone!