It was Big Girl Pantie week for me here at the Mustang Diaries this past week. Here's how it played out.
Beamer went for her second trail ride down at the local tree farm. This ride was not quite as smooth as the first. Oh, sure, it started off just fine. I met another friend and Beamer stepped right out into the lead. That suited her companion, Gertie, just fine, as Gertie prefers to mosey along and let someone else blaze the trail.
Blazing trails, it would appear, is something Beamer enjoys.
One of the things that the Cowboy likes is Beamer's large hindquarters. They're very strong and athletic, and on this particular day Beamer opted to use them. No, she didn't kick out or anything of that nature. Instead she opted to launch the two of us like a rocket up a hill with little regard to whether there was an actual trail or not. Thankfully, there was a trail, but when we hit the switchback, she wanted to continue straight on up.
It's a blessing she's such a small thing. Had I been on Oz, I'd have been toast. Beamer, at least, I was able to pull around and under control once she hesitated at the top of the switchback. A second attempt to hurtle us up the hill, at which point I dismounted and walked to the top. A short walk, thankfully! Obviously, Beamer has some issues we need to work through, so back down to the Cowboy's she went where we can get back to some basics.
The thing is, she doesn't act this way in an arena. Out on the trail, she calls for the horses at home. And really, since we're less than a mile away from them (probably half that as the crow flies), she may smell them or even hear them if they answer. Either way, she needs more manners, and that can happen in the safety of the arena for now.
Six weeks. That's all the time Oz and I have to get things together before the Mt Trail Challenge in Oregon. Eeep! That's not much time! I hadn't even ridden the boy outdoors yet. I mean...sure, if you count my round pen at home, but actually outside? Hasn't happened. Nor in a full size arena.
Since having his teeth done, Oz has seemed a little depressed. What better time to try something new? No high spirits to deal with, right? I'd given the boy the week off. The Cowboy had taken down the panels inside his arena which had created a nice safety net for starting colts. Lots of territory that had never been available to us (nor had I wanted to use it), but I took a deep breath, saddled up and climbed on board.
Oz walked and trotted politely around in circles where the pen had been set up. Then we began moving outward and using most of the arena, though avoiding the very front where the doorway led to the barn or the bulls were parked. After a few minutes of arena time, I decided it was time to open the gate and head outdoors.
I love gates. They teach a horse so much! Moving willingly toward a solid object, standing patiently, moving either the forehand or hindquarters separately from one another, and trusting your rider to maneuver you safely through a small opening. There's a lot of finesse in working your way through a gate. Oz did his best to please me. For a colt who's just been started, he did quite well. We got out into the yard between the barns, then opened the gate into the old buffalo pen and walked around in there.
Wide tractor tires had left deep tracks in the soft earth last fall, so I steered Oz into one, walking the length of it. I know there are trenches at the trail challenge that are a few feet deep. The tire track wasn't anywhere near that...just a few inches...but it was something!
Oz came home that afternoon, and I'm happy to report that we've had a couple of rides over obstacles in the big arena at the riding club now, as well as walking around outside in the driveway at home where we navigated around trees and through a big puddle.