It’s one of those blissfully cool days you occasionally get in the mountains in August and we sure wanted a ride! We hurried through our day’s chores; fortunately all our guests had headed out on their own adventures. We had about three hours until we had to be back for check-in. Wahoo! Grab the horses and let’s go picnic. I’m sure Ranger and Jesse felt the excitement; even Washoe tried to sneak through the gate and come with us.
We headed out on one of the back trails in Roosevelt National Forest. I decided to work on getting Jesse to lead out better. Last summer, she and Ranger had developed a pattern of switching places periodically (on their own) while we were out. It was like they spoke to each other; the one in front would just stop, step aside, and let the other pass and we would continue on. Now, it’s work for the horse in the lead. It’s their job to make sure the way is safe for the rest. We didn’t care if they switched places; it was good for each to take responsibility and let the other rest. We just didn’t want it to become a problem if we thought otherwise. This summer, it did seem to be becoming an issue. When Jesse decided to switch places, I said, “No,” and she balked. Big Time! Guess what this summer’s lessons have been on.
So we head out and I put Jesse in the lead. She has actually learned to enjoy this, as it means she can set a pace comfortable to her long stride instead of constantly having to wait on Ranger’s cute little dancing step. Her long, continuous stride is also very therapeutic for my hip, so I encourage her to use it. Now we get to listen to Ranger pitpat further and further back until he breaks into a little trot to catch up.
Things have been going so well, I think maybe we can handle a short lope. I quit any “fast” work with Jesse a couple of years ago, when we had saddle fit issues and it would start her crow-hopping. Then we spent a year learning bareback and I am not to the stage of riding anywhere at a lope bareback. Last fall, I took a spill and smashed my shoulder, so still no loping. Well, now there are no more excuses, except now Jesse thinks we aren’t allowed to do that. Getting brave, I think we should give it a try since we are out in front, so when we get to a nice, long level area where she can see a long distance, I ask for a lope. I had to ask three times; she was sure I was nuts. We don’t do that! Finally, she breaks into this nice, smooth lope, then starts to slow down, not sure it’s OK, yet. When I urge her on, she picks up the pace and then seems to settle into it all across the top of the meadow…where she throws in this little hop at the corner. It was like an exuberant, “Wow, did you see what we can do?!” She was pretty happy to lead the rest of the way home, a couple of times asking if we could pick up the pace.
I can hardly wait to ride again, so we can practice more “faster” work. It’s been my fear holding us back. You just don’t bounce as well at 60 as you did at 25. I think the injuries from my last fall left me with a fear I didn’t want to admit.