I just got home from the barn - it's about 38F with wind gusts to 16mph, so the windchill's about 33F. But I probably won't get to ride tomorrow due to other commitments, so I was determined to ride Pie. And the sun was shining through the broken clouds, and the grasses were waving, and it's going to be a lot colder pretty soon . . .
Since Pie arrived less than a week ago, the weather's mostly cooperated and we've gotten in 6 work sessions. A ground session on leading, doing head-down and backing softly just with a halter and lead and just standing around (Saturday), a two-hour trail ride with Scout and Sugar (Sunday), some very short solo trail excursions and a little arena work as well as some tying while I rode Dawn (Monday), another long trail ride with Scout, Sugar and Charisma, including lots of trotting and groups dividing in two (Tuesday), a long walking trail ride with my husband (no other horses) (Wednesday), no riding Thursday and then today's ride. The whole week, I've been working with him on picking up his feet, and he's improving every day.
Today's conditions weren't ideal for taking a young horse in a new place on his first long solo trail ride, but I said what the hell and did it anyway. Was he bad? No. Was he good? No . . . He was GREAT! It's been many years since I've had such a fun trail ride - I had a goofy grin on my face the whole time when I wasn't laughing out loud and telling him what a wonderful horse he was.
We did two big loops - one was at least a mile and the other one a bit less, passing by the barn in the middle of the ride. What can I say? He went willingly everywhere I pointed him, ears pricked, without balking, weaving, hesitating or trying to turn back. He didn't call to the other horses once. He trotted - a nice medium jog - whenever I asked, and didn't rush, root or pull - my reins were loose throughout the ride. He stopped and admired the view with me a couple of times. On the first loop he was looking for the other horses on the way back to the barn but didn't jig or do anything but respond when I asked him to slow his walk. He gladly headed back out on the second loop, leaving the barn behind. As we started away from the barn, he had to pass close by the Scary Green Trashcans of Doom at the end of a driveway, one of which had its lid open and flapping/banging in the wind. He hesitated for a moment but moved right by when I chirped, keeping an ear on the cans - we had to pass within a foot or two of them due to the trail layout.
And you know what the strangest thing was - the only time I got the "Pie face" was on the last stretch approaching the barn at the very end of our ride. On the second loop, every time we came to a fork in the trail, he wanted to take the path that led farther away from home . . . he was clearly happy to be out, enjoying himself and wanted to go further . . .
I am almost beside myself with delight. Will we have our issues and things to work on? Sure, every horse and rider combo does. But it's pretty clear after just a week that I've got myself one fine horse!