I went out to meet Nicole so we could ride. She decided Cali wouldn't handle being ridden very well, so she opted to stay inside and long-line her.
This was really my first day to ride in my new saddle outside of the arena. I was really hoping Nicole and Cali would be able to do a short trail ride and it was an absolutely beautiful day. When I got to the barn, Sally and Liz were saddling up to do the Fairmount Trail loop and invited us to go. I told them Cali was a bit backsore and I would have to check with Nicole. When Nicole was grooming Cali she made the decision not to ride but told me I should go with the group going out, that she wouldn't be offended. It took a little bit of convincing, but I went ahead.
In front is Diana on Proper, an OTTB she just acquired. Second is Liz on Reagan, a TWH who can move on the trail. Third is Sally on Ibn, Ashke's twin, another SE Arabian.
Liz is a professional photographer who said there are very few pics of her and her horses, since she is usually the one with the camera.
I choose to get off at the edge of Shiloh and walk Ashke down to the park, where I mounted back up. I really need to figure out how to get on and off. My mounting process is ungangly and awkward. Maybe I need to find a fence the correct height, secure my saddle to it and practice until my mounting is smooth and graceful.
I worked on keeping my heels down and my toes pointed forward during my ride.
We started at a walk, went up the trail to the bike path and turned East. Nicole and I have always gone straight along the canal. It was fun to turn east.
Ashke loved being out on a new trail. He was engaged and alert. I think he likes how I ride in this saddle better than I was riding before. Me too.
I'm pretty happy I have scheduled a fitting for the Easy Boots with Michelle. I think Ashke will be more comfortable with the boots on. It might be pretty fun to train him to wear them, however.
The trail was pretty busy, with lots of bikes. Sally and I had fun yelling at people biking too fast past the horses.
Liz was nice enough to take the camera a couple of times to click photos of me and Ashke. I thought this was a great pic. We met a lot of runners who offered to trade. We laughed.
There were places where the horses were allowed to stop and graze. It didn't really work for Ashke. His bit lays against his tongue and inhibits his ability to eat grass while it's in his mouth. There are several bodies of water in this area and we saw a Bald Eagle fly overhead.
All the horses got a drink, including Ashke who actually put his toes in the water.
He drank and then he started flipping the water with his nose and did the flehmen response. I guess he doesn't like the smell of fishy water.
Reagan had great fun. He loves to splash and paw at the water. We moved away to keep from getting wet.
Most horses when they paw in water, they also lay down in the water, which would have been really funny, but not at the same time.
There were some really nice places along the trail where we cantered and Reagan racked.
Such beautiful country to ride through.
Ashke was pushed to keep up with the others, all of which are in much better condition than my boy.
Ibn didn't want to work so hard. He kept stopping as if to poo and then dropping his head to eat.
Ashke would see Reagan in the distance ahead of him and get really antsy. We would speed up to catch up to him and then Ashke would realize it wasn't Cali. I swear you could feel his disappointment.
We did a big loop around the lakes. It was a pretty nice ride and the weather was perfect.
Proper is a nice horse, with a great stride. Ibn is like the second half of Ashke, although Ashke is just a couple of inches taller. I told Sally we could teach them to drive and have a matched pair.
See that ditch in front of Proper? It had a muddy bottom. I had to get off and lead Ashke across, then mount up again. (I got to practice mounting 4 times from the ground. It was not pretty.)
Liz took the camera again and got a couple of pics of Sally and I riding together. She liked how our two boys looked together.
Ibn has better muscle definition than Ashke, but he is also a part-time school horse and is ridden six times a week. I need to work Ashke more frequently.
There were two burros in a field on our way home. Proper and Reagan were freaked out, but Ibn and Ashke were fascinated.
Ashke and I went through two tunnels and he did great on both of them.
The home stretch. There was one point where Reagan and Proper were so far ahead that Ashke and Ibn both got very up. Ashke was doing his impersonation of a Lippizan horse and doing a Piaffe. It was fun.
This is the longest ride we've done, to date. And the fastest pace we've traveled.
Nice little loop of a ride. I can't wait to explore a little bit North of our western turning point. It looks to me like the trail keeps going. Ashke and I are looking forward to checking it out.
Interesting to see how the pace worked out.
The saddle was very comfortable, although it did hold me in a different position and my body is telling me about it. I also rubbed my legs raw. The movement pinched my legs between the top of my boots and my jeans, which kept riding up. I have bruises on both calves.
Ashke came in sound but tired. I told him a couple of times that he is in training and training is hard. He seemed very willing and kept up with horses that have been in training for a while now.
So, first impressions of the saddle were favorable, although my right knee was very sore by the end of the ride. I felt very secure in it, even when Ashke was bouncing and rearing and trying to gallop up to the other horses. My only issue was with my jeans. They were riding up very badly when I rode on Friday night. Nicole asked if that had happened before and told me that I might need to get skinny jeans. I chose a different pair today, one's that were more snug and they didn't work any better. In fact, they ended up causing the bruising and chaffing of calves and knees. After our ride I went to the used tack store at the barn and got a pair of riding breeches and some half chaps. I'm hoping the combination will make riding much more comfortable.
Ashke had one small bump on his left hind leg that bled a little bit. And he had a small bruise on the top of his left hind hoof, probably from hitting either the sidewalk edge or a rock. It is a small bump, but very visible on his white hooves. We rode through a lot of prickly pear and some Yucca. In fact, at one point when we were cantering he extended his stride and willingly jumped a yucca plant of his own will. I wouldn't have ever expected him to jump of his own free will.
When we got to the barn I checked the pressure from the saddle. It was even on both sides and front to back. Under his saddle was the only place he was sweaty. He did get a little puffy on the trail when we were cantering, but recovered pretty fast and never really broke a sweat. J helped me by sponging off his back and I checked for soreness. There wasn't any, which made me really happy. Overall, a great day.