Yesterday was gorgeous! For the first time since last fall, my feet were hot. I was overdressed and should have left the vest at the barn except I needed its pockets for carrots and my cell phone. Why don't they put pockets on riding tights? It seems like such a no-brainer. And clipping my phone onto my boot top is just not an option for trail riding. I know it would get knocked off somewhere in the woods.
I surprised Harley by turning him left as we left the barn. I like to keep things mixed up for variety. John took him up by North Point earlier this week, but I haven't been up there with him since December. This meant passing the goats--Harley looks askance at these creatures. Then it was a pair of wood ducks that kept flying up out of one vernal pool to another (3 times!). Finally we left the tarmac and hit the woods. He splashed through puddles without a twitch, earning pats and "Good boy, Harley" from me. In his usual manner, he stopped a few times and made half-hearted attempts to turn around, but willingly went forward when asked. He kept a wary eye on the loader and truck parked across from North Point (he's convinced these monsters will get him), but walked on by. We had a little trot down the dirt road until he saw a car and heard people in the woods. The car wasn't there last time! And what was in the woods? We couldn't see the people, so it spooked him. Granted he didn't spin, but he tried, and then began backing up rather like a cow pony tightening the rope on a cow! I circled twice, rode him back, urged him on, but each time, he began backing up again. I should have just dismounted and led him past. but I knuckled under and just made him stand and look. Getting him to stand still when he's agitated is in itself, a step forward.
Heading for home, I rode him past the turn off, so we could watch some boys throwing a ball and bouncing it off their roof. I figured it would be a good experience. He watched while I stroked his neck, behaving well. I turned for home, then made him go back to the boys, which he did well--something he never would have done last year without all kinds of agitation. Harley is getting braver by the day. Next time, though, we are going down the road, car or not.
I went back out to the barn last night to put his blanket on. Now that the horses are turned out all night, I want to make sure he doesn't burn off the fat we finally put on him while the nights are still down in the 30's and 40's. John and walked down into the field and Harley ambled up to us, looking for treats. He's certainly used to deer by now as we counted 8 of them in the next pasture over. This must be the same herd John and Harley came across on last week's ride in the woods.
We're in for a stretch of rain, so I need to get back out there today and take some more baby steps. Maybe John and I will do our version of the ride and tie--one rides out, and one rides back.