On Tuesday, my buddy, Rodney, and I managed to go for a ride in Vogel Canyon, a local riding and hiking area which is part of Comanche National Grassland. It's taken me a little time to work up to this. Although I can see that Rodney's a good horseman and his horses are well behaved, I felt that I wanted to have a little more rapport before we ventured out to places I wasn't familiar with. We've had a few little rides around my place now, and Iona and Bruce are both settling back into being ridden after the lay off with my wrist. Then it snowed, so we put the trip off for another week...
Finally, Tuesday dawned with good weather and we loaded up in Rodney's trailer for the drive to the trailhead. Rodney has a nice little slant load trailer, with no partition, which is just great for his two horses, who get along well and are very regular travelers. Iona has a history of catching her halter on stuff, so I asked if it would be okay if we traveled Iona, and Rodney's horse Shadow, loose. (His other horse, Sundance, stayed at my place while we were away.) Rodney said that would be fine, we would just give them a few minutes and observe them together before we drove off. If it wasn't working, maybe we could use our big trailer, but that would mean a lot of extra work. They seemed fine, so we set off. It was only once we got down the road that Rodney told me he found the idea of traveling a horse loose pretty worrying. I explained that I much prefer it, most of the time. Isn't it interesting how different things seem right to different people! Neither of us is right or wrong, I believe. It's definitely an "it depends" question. One we'll need to talk about again, but the trip went smoothly, anyway.
The ride itself was great. Rodney picked a really easy route, which I appreciated as Iona's foot is still just slightly stiff, and she was a little nervous. I notice such a difference in her in the past year or so, as far as how she handles herself when she gets worried. Much more willing to listen to me and to keep trying. (She would probably say exactly the same about me!) My main clues that she was worried were a high head and that she wasn't trying to eat the grass! I quite enjoyed the not eating grass part. The first part of the trail was fairly rocky and slightly downhill, but really no big deal. Most of the rest was along a trail through winter grass. We hardly saw any wildlife, but we've had some very mild nights recently, so everything must have been asleep. There are bears and pumas in the area, and I can't help wondering what a British pony would make of those smells. What would they mean to her? Happily, we didn't see any of those guys.
We stopped and ate our lunch a little over halfway around the loop, under a tree. The horses kept looking off in one direction, as if there was something they wanted to follow, like cattle or antelope or something, but we couldn't see anything. A bit further along we stopped at a windmill fed stock tank to let the horses drink. Tall, Rodney's dog, went for a swim and really didn't want to come out. We followed the old stagecoach road back to the road we drove in on. An odd configuration of fences means a bit of a detour to get back to the parking area. Naturally the horses were feeling quite forward going here, so I took the opportunity to play with a little collection, which was a great feeling, and the perfect way to do it with Iona.
Back at the trailer, Iona decided to put on a short display of "I don't want to load so I'm running off" which was only slightly embarrassing! She's done much worse, though, so I just smiled.
Rodney did all the picture taking, so I've included a couple of him from some of his previous rides.
The previous Sunday, Denise and I had a nice ride around the property with Bruce and Iona. She's still getting into the swing of Parelli-style riding, so we did direct and indirect rein turns along the rail, some Point to Point and other stuff. We had a great ride. There's nothing I love more than being out with both ponies. They behaved very well, and as usual, Denise did brilliantly without a saddle!
The wind has been a problem lately, and has curtailed my plans more than once. However today I had a nice short session with Iona and a green ball. We've been having fun with this off and on. The panel round pen comes in handy for this, as the ball doesn't blow away! Iona did a great job of pushing the ball around along the rail, then to me, and then back on the rail in trot! In positioning her from a distance to push the ball I discovered that her Sideways Toward is amazingly good from a long way off. Who knew?
I mounted up for a session to go over some Freestyle basics. Iona was now using those tall panels against me, playing the Squeeze game with her side and my leg! Neither leg yielding away or flexing her neck toward the fence was working at first, but finally with the second strategy I out persisted her! Then we had a nice little transition session. I had hoped to go on to other things, but she did some nice canter on the right lead, which has been broken (and neglected) lately, so I quit there.I was trying out some of the one rein techniques that Pat shows on the new L2 Freestyle video. I got myself royally tangled up, as it seems to be different than the way I learned it. More viewing required, I guess!
We also had a nice session earlier in the week working on Traveling Circles and reviewing some one rein basics. She was really good. The stuff is set out for Obstacles and Question Box. Now for some calm weather.