Today was the first test of saddle fitness on the trail. I encouraged N to take a chance and come check out the new places we have to ride. The wonder of this trail, resting just below the Flatirons, is enough to fill my soul with happiness. I thought she and Cali would enjoy it just as much. Our plan to get to the barn by 9:30 was only slightly delayed.
J and I hooked up the trailer, pulled it around, and Gustavo helped with the shavings. N and I loaded tack and when the trailer was ready, I brought Ashke out. The plan was to load him and once he was loaded, N would bring out Cali. Imagine our surprise when I walked Ashke up to the trailer and without even hesitating, he walked right on. I got him inside and then N came out.
My trailer is a slant load with high slats. It's designed to allow air flow but to reduce the amount of wet that gets in while trailering. That's one of the reasons I got such a good price on the thing. The second thing about my trailer is that the partition between the front slot and the second is solid and high. This is good if you are trailering horses that don't get along or two horses that are far apart in the social hierarchy. It was not, however, the best choice for Ashke and Cali.
Cali walked up and put her two front feet on the trailer. Ashke heard her and went into his best stallion mode of communication. Blasting whinnies were followed by frantic nickering. It kind of freaked Cali out. N, smart woman that she is, walked Cali around to the window and let Ashke see it really was Cali. He settled (in comparison) a little bit then, and without much fuss we were able to load Cali.
It was a quick ten minute drive to the trailhead and then we unloaded. We opted to walk both horses around to one of the cattle pens (Boulder Valley Open Space leases out a lot of their open land to local farmers to run cattle on to help manage the fuel load) and groom them in their, just to lessen the anxiety on the part of N. The trailer was parked in a way that would have made grooming them rough with the traffic at that parking lot. The pen was a good idea, because it allowed both of us to relax and take our time with the horses. The only drawback was the amount of walking we made J do, taking stuff back to the trailer.
Cali was pretty excited to be out on the trail and we did a bunch of trotting to start the ride. And a couple of canters up the hills (twice) which J complained of bitterly. (She enjoyed a very long and fast downhill though, so that made up for the steep uphill. One the second hill, J managed a series of pictures that captures the ride.
Letting my race horse race up the hill. This is the first time I just let him run as fast as he wanted to go. It was the first time I didn't feel scared about his balance or his ability. Or my being able to stop him if needed.
I think he was in shock at the release of control. He didn't bolt, but he definitely ran.
My horse with his head UP. Although, in our defense, I think most Arabians being ridden out of an arena, look a lot like this.
Not wanting to slow down
Not wanting to stop. Although he did bring his head down when we attained the trot.
Cali can canter and transition with proper form.
We had to stop to fix the saddle blanket. It kept slipping back. I was riding in the BOT, because this was our first trail ride in the Alta and I wanted to keep his back warm and loose.
Look at those haunches.
My little beefcake stopping for a photo moment.
Our first trail ride (for real) since the first of November
Wandering through the trees.
At one point we were wandering through the trees. There are a lot of downed branches and small trees in the grass. There was one that I thought would make a nice introductory jump of natural construction (you never really know what you might find on trail and I would like Ashke to be able to jump up to 2' without me falling off or jerking on his mouth). Ashke locked onto the downed tree (maybe 8" off the ground), jumped it easily without any fuss, and trotted away. Riding that jump in the Alta was the easiest thing I have ever done. I turned and watched Cali jump over it like it was 3' tall, with her legs curled up and her body all arched. I think N will probably try her at jumping at some point (but not alot because of the stress it puts on her joints).
Temps in the low 70's. I love this series of photos in the trees.
I LOVE my saddle. Ashke LOVES his saddle.
Cali was so relaxed and N had a wonderful time. N is trying to let go of the "out of control" feeling that being on the trail elicits in her. She is trying to let go of her fear as well, which I think she did a fantastic job of, and just enjoy the ride.
Another series of riding towards J through the trees.
Ashke is getting more and more sure footed with every ride.
Most of my ride with Ashke was on a loose rein. He is getting really good at the neck reining thing, which I personally prefer when riding on the trail.
We can walk on a loose rein, but if we are negotiating terrain (like going down Doudy Draw) or trotting or cantering, he prefers more contact.
I think he was more worried about the rocks than the bridge.
During lunch a couple of hikers with a white boxer came by. Ashke walked over and they greeted each other. The boxer really wanted to play and Ashke was willing to try. If they had been loose it would have been fun to see what they did, but it wasn't going to happen on the trail. It's just another moment in our relationship where his curiosity is so damn apparent.
I think he was more worried about the rocks than the bridge.
Onto the next thing
The saddle seems to have worked nicely on Saturday. The compression pattern seemed symmetrical and even. We didn't go fast enough or far enough for sweat. And on Sunday we got snow all day. I am planning on riding on Monday night, so maybe I will be able to tell then what the sweat pattern looked like. Overall, the first test of the saddle was an A. The saddle pad was annoying, but not awful. I have already ordered a fleece girth to replace the poly one. I do need to raise the stirrups, though, since when I stood up in them there was no discernable difference in my position in the saddle.