If you know me (as a horse friend), you are probably aware that trail riding makes me nervous. Steep inclines and rocky footing just aren’t for me. I like nice, level ground that doesn’t want to slide out from underneath my pony. A lot of this probably had to to with the fact that my previous trail companions of the horse variety have been less than considerate of my feelings about the situation.
Lil Man was the only horse I’ve owned that I felt mostly confident with on trail rides-until now. While Lil Man was a safe choice since he wasn’t going to do anything to jeopardize his own health (he never bolted on trails luckily…), Paige is a little different. She doesn’t go out of her way to “stay safe” per se, but she is basically unflappable, and I’m not going to put her in a situation where she needs to have survival skills. So, I have the survival skills and she has the attitude that there is nothing that can hurt us. Our personalities work together super well on the trail it seems.
We went trail riding with friends on Friday and Saturday. There weren’t any steep inclines or giant rocks to traverse since we went on the New River Trail. Paige was barefoot, so we stuck to the car-width gravel dust paths and enjoyed ourselves thoroughly. A couple of bicyclists passed us, a couple strange horses, and a jogger and, while she stared the bikes down, she never offered to move a foot out of place. My friends, A and A, rode gaited geldings that spooked occasionally at random things, as all horses are prone to do. Paige just didn’t care. At one point, A’s horse, Bandit, heard something in the bushes (A and I heard it as well), and he went from gaiting alongside Paige’s trot to gaiting into the side of her in a skittish way. Paige just kept trotting. Wild animals in the bushes have nothing on the Paige-mare.
After riding for a little over an hour on Friday, we turned around and came back. When we got back to the trailer parking area, we rode the horses into the river. Paige thought this was the ideal time to scratch her face on her legs. After letting her scrub for a while, I tried to pull her up only to realize that she’d managed to unsnap one of my reins with her face! After A grabbed her and rehooked my rein, I mentioned that I get nervous that my horse will want to lay in the water when I ride in it, then I turned Paige towards the bank. Looking at the river and being on a horse was making me a little dizzy since the water was moving and my brain told me that my horse was moving. But my horse wasn’t moving, right? Well, as soon as I mentioned my paranoia about my mount laying in the river, A shouted “oh no, kick her!” then kicked Paige in the butt herself to motivate my mare not to dunk us both. Apparently Paige’s legs were folding and she was going to baptize me upon my announcement that the thought of it made me nervous. Sneaky mare…
On Saturday we went the opposite way on the trail. Paige was a little more vocal on Saturday since she was coming into heat, but not bad at all. Once I was on her, she didn’t neigh at all really. She took her favorite position in the back of the group and puttered along until we’d dropped so far behind that I couldn’t hear the conversation, so I’d make her trot to catch up. She was most willing to trot. I rode with spurs on Friday in case she was lazy like she can be at home, but I never touched her with them, so I decided not to bother with them on Saturday.
The most notable thing about going this way on the trail was the bridges. We crossed three bridges, two over roads, and one LONG bridge over the river. We rode across all of them on the way out, but remarked while going across the long one that it made us nervous. Not that we thought our horses were going to misbehave, but there’s nothing like being on a bridge suspended over the river to make you tense up a little. I mainly had to fight the urge to take pictures over the river because I was paranoid that I’d drop my phone and it would be gone forever. On the way back to the camp (after other A got off and fed someone’s fallen grilled cheese nabs to our horses) we decided to get off and lead our horses across the long bridge since someone was jogging the trail coming towards it from the opposite side.
After we got back to camp, we allowed them the opportunity to drink from the river again. The geldings got to go out in the water, but I didn’t trust the river monster herself to go all the way in, so she just got to scrub her face/drink water from the beachy area.
We had a lot of fun trail riding this weekend. It was nice to take horses that were good and sane so that we could all enjoy ourselves. There was lots of laughter, some of it at Paige’s expense. She tried to discreetly grab a blade of grass while walking on a loose rein, but when she pulled it up, she brought the entire root system and flung giant dirt clods everywhere. She started bobbing her head trying to free the grass from the roots, and when that didn’t work she started trotting and bobbing her head. Of course my feet had been out of the stirrups so I was bouncing along unable to pick up my stirrups because I was laughing so hard. By the time we caught up to A and A, she’d dropped the clod, but not before entertaining all of us thoroughly. Laughter and trail riding is a pretty good combination. 🙂