The New Trail and the Canter

Monday, April 6, 2015

After our big ride, I gave Faygo (and myself) a lazy day to relax. Monday Judy came back to ride so I could get Khaleesi back on the trail. We took a ride Khaleesi had never been ponied on to see how she’d handle new scenery.

IMG_8475The ride began by crossing a wooden bridge (for cars, so not narrow or “too” scary) and I had to get off and lead her across, but she was fine once we got started. She looked around more on the new trail, but took the lead and didn’t seem to lack for confidence. We also had to walk through a trail that had turned into run-off stream with the wet weather and she occasionally tried to move us off the trail onto higher (but rockier) ground; as I insisted we stay in the wet area she finally got the message and stayed on the trail.

I was so pleased with her! We rode about 5 miles and though I still have tons of fine-tuning to do, we have good confidence together and I liked how she seemed to want to stay out front of Faygo (who didn’t seem to mind as I think she was still tired!).

IMG_8491Our loop took us by a beautiful spot in the Jackson River Valley with a gorgeous view. It was a beautiful day as well and was a wonderful ride. I’ve decided that though we’ll still do some arena work, I’d like to focus on “training on the trail” with this horse as it’s more interesting for me, and will be really good for her since that will be her job (endurance trail riding). I worked on trying to get her to take to the bit and possibly start to set her head, but on the “snaffle” rings I just didn’t feel like she was getting it. I decided the next step will be to add a curb chain and connect to the curb rings on the bit to add some poll (top of her head) pressure to see if that encourages her to begin to tuck her head and get “on” the bit more with somewhat a headset. Due to my inexperience we may have to resort to a martingale or professional help at some point, but for now we’re still experimenting and I’m ok with the process. I spent some time holding her back from the trot, sitting back on her and trying to get her to fast walk, but our signals aren’t quite clear yet, so we do a little of that, and yes- I do let her do some trotting too.

Khaleesi dealing well with lots of water on the trail.
Khaleesi dealing well with lots of water on the trail.

The most exciting thing for the day was that on the return part of the trip, slightly uphill, Faygo took off with a canter- I knew Judy was enjoying that lovely silk canter of Faygos and could hardly blame her for leaving us behind. I held on and asked Khaleesi what she was going to do? We can walk easy and lag behind (no big deal) or go ahead and catch up if you want! And we did! We cantered for a good couple minutes up the incline and it was our first real cantering! She felt so different in how she moves than Faygo does… but it was FUN!

I have done more reading and research and it seems like really successful endurance riders don’t ride their horses nearly the amount of miles once they’re in shape as I’d thought they must. Many say 2-3 times a week and not often over 12-15 miles is routine for a horse that can do LD up to 50 miles. That makes me feel good about splitting up ride time between the girls this summer and also realizing that the rest in between is as important as the miles we get in- so it’s good to have two horses to trade off as the season ramps up and we find ourselves wanting to ride more often. I’m looking forward to taking Khaleesi out more and more- and eventually alone. Not ready for that today- but I feel it won’t be too long!

IMG_8495
Still in love with my young mare!