Getting out and about solo is how us two, horse and human, started to get to know each other well.
When Wa mare first came to me I developed a trail code for us to travel by. I started by taking her out on foot. I would lead and she would follow, and sometimes way to closely. I pack a plastic bag now for those times when she is concerned with her rear...I put it upon my crop and hold it behind my back with her lead. Fortunately, not having to do that often, she follows me nicely most times and also leads . I taught her to step over, just one step at a time for trickier areas and for her also to step closer for me to mount from a mound of dirt, ledge or stump.
When we have far too a steep hill, my mare takes the lead as I prompt her to, me trailing by her tail behind on the ground.
I L*O*V*E this technique. It has served us well in some of the mountain goat trails we've used! Likewise, when we have a totally too steep trail to go down, I hold onto the side of the saddle, by stirrup leather or bareback pad and we go down together.
This has built our confidence up with each other. I can always count on my mare now in a pinch.
The other thing that has me trusting her more and likewise, is tying her to trees while I trail blaze. She does not care for it when I go out of visual range, but she is getting better. This tree tying sure came in handy last year, when an emergency occurred when my riding bud got thrown. I had to count on her calm steadfastness. I always ride with a rope or rope reins, a ring on my nose band or a halter in place of nose band. I can not tell you how many times I have needed to lead or tie my mare, while out on trail adventures.
This past weekend I decided to trail out-solo- to one of my favorite places to ride. Hardy Creek in the Molalla River Corridor, nearby. It takes less than 30 minutes to get there so even though my mare dislikes solo trailering for long hauls, this trip is okay.
My trailering confidence was taught to me by so many people, in my brief 5 years of horse ownership. Firstly by Gemma, my freind that got me to get back to the JOY of riding horses. We rode and trailered and rode and trailered everywhere! Though I never drove her rig then, I watched her do it with ease.
My sister also taught me so much...though I was not interested in using a manual truck, so I refused back then to try.
Then, at my second stable, there was a gal that owned Frisians. She was so good to help me learn the ropes with her Ford 150 and 2 horse trailer. Literally, she had me drive her trailer around(horseless) and back it up and go get gas, park the rig over and over- till I got it right and was confident. I knew where the thing was on the road and how to maneuver it all, soon enough. She then set me to trailering myself solo.
Those were the days of upset stomach and lack of sleep! I was pretty nervous for the first times. But, my mare grew in confidence of me asking her to get on the trailer, as all the experiences became the same...nice slow starts, turns, stops and all the while, I would talk to her each time we stopped...she'd nicker sometimes, though nervous herself, she checked in with me too.
Then, when my sissy moved her mare Pantz up to Portland area, due to her small barn closing and no where else to go to at the coast. She brought her mare and left her rig for us to use for a year or so. 6 speed Diesel truck and a 3 horse trailer. THAT was the ultimate in testing/training me to drive a rig! I got it down and still think, that a 3 horse is easier to maneuver than a 2! Go figure!
Now, this 3rd trailer trip out this Spring was a great day....though I saw an old riding bud at McIver State Park days before, and thought to call several friends to go riding...SOLO just sounded heavenly.
Arriving at my stable, it was quiet so I allowed my mare to munch grasses for my hook up time. I got our snacks and after ride wash gear ready..I like to give the mare a sponge "Brace" bath after a warmer, or longer days ride.
NO ONE was at the parking lot, but bicyclists! Cool...the entire trail system to ourselves! They have these great signage boards up along the trails...making sure all know the rules of the roads and trails. Everyone YIELDS to the horse.
And it has in writing and pictures- who is allowed on the trails. PEOPLE, Bicycles, Horses. NO motorized is mentioned...but it is said, " These travelers are allowed only- to keep from unwanted trail complications ". !! HA!!
Yup..motors just complicate everything!
I have read that other avid trail riders sometimes have issue with sourness, sometimes when they only ride a certain trail. I have had that where I am now, sometimes. even if I trail out to the same trail, my mare will seemingly get bored with its hills and dales.
So this day, I decided to try some of the "single track" trails that are normally closed if muddy. It definitively was NOT muddy- but perfectly wonderful footing!!! In fact, if it weren't for the first quarter mile up to the wooded trails on large base rock, the mare would have enjoyed being barefoot.
She was so happy to be somewhere else...she strutted on up the rocky hill!!
We all need a change of pace and our horses are no different...mine's attitude told me that she was enjoying the new scene!
Look at this footing!
I thought of Lytha in Germany...she's coming to the States again soon and I REALLY want her to come riding here with me. This is your OFFICIAL INVITE Lytha...Come trot the woods of Oregon with us!
This trail I used for 7 miles was the "Rim trail". The trails are well marked and maintained.
We travelled the "Rim Trail" till we got to "Bear Woods loop". We took that, then on back to one called "Rim Tie trail". I did not have the map so I was counting on what the 'Tie" sounded like..Yep, it got us back to the Rim .
After we had some long trot sessions and some cantering on the Rim trail that was so long and straight, we settled into an on the "Wither" ride. I have no buckle with the rope reins, so I make a loop from the last 5 inches ( so I may collect them easily and quick) and set my hand on her withers. She usually snorts with delight!
We had a down time for munch, on the way back. me having a "Mojo" bar and tea. The mare having her usual favorite.
One thing I have always done here at Hardy Creek, is join the mare with the coming back- unwind walk....
What an awesome and refreshing solo ride out for spring!
I am looking forward to more of the local faire for riding this season. There is such a downturn in our fiances, not much else can be had for trips. PLUS- my poor sister HAS TO MOVE Pantz again. This is the third time in 3 years, due to the barn she is in -moving and therefor-closing!
Man...if she had just taken our stable owners invite 2 years ago when I moved...she would have been sitting pretty content, like me! I really L*O*V*E my stable.
So wish to us , pray for us, and hope that we may find something in less than 60 days.
We Have to!