I took Harley out for an hour and a half on Sunday--our longest ride yet this spring. We attempted to retrace John's steps from the ill-fated ride when they were lost out by Route 9. Unfortunately, I missed a turnoff (the trail appeared to be a brook bed in places) and we came to a halt, our noses stuck in the hemlocks. Rather than bashing through the underbrush, I opted for another loop out to Cheney Woods Rd. Harley tried to pull an "I can't go there!" whirl, but we worked it out and had a nice long ride with lots of water crossings (one that paralleled a flooded stream), some nice trots and canters, and a little jump as well. I even had a first--taking photos from the saddle, through Harley's ears. Leaves swirled in the wind, branches clacked overhead, and those dang ducks flew up out of every vernal pool. It was enough to give Harley a minor coronary, until he realized nothing attacked him after all. What a silly boy!
Yesterday, I decided to mix things up for Harley and head the other direction, down to Orris Falls and maybe up to Emery's Bridge Rd. First, I had to get him away from the barn--I thought we were over that! A light smack with the crop and he willingly walked on. The brook roared with water, and he tried spinning away for home once, then relented and stepped forward. He's made great strides in dealing with water. The loop idea failed when we came to a downed tree (about 4 feet off the ground--not jump-able) we couldn't get around. This meant returning the same way--down some tricky, muddy, steeps spots. Harley pulled his nose forward, asking for more rein as if saying, "Trust me, I'll get us down this", which he did, beautifully. Just to prove he isn't really as spooked as he likes to make us think, he dragged an oak branch, caught up in his tail, without a twitch, for about 20 yards before it released itself. Hah! I knew it, you're not as scared as you seem! The ride ended with a nice little hop over a downed tree with a collected canter away--until we got to the barn. There was John, setting up cross-rails. In Harley's mind, this ride was over! But John made me take him over once--much to Harley's displeasure--he was so done! It wasn't pretty, but he did it and got a "good boy" pat for his efforts, even if he did think about zig-zagging me off (the little devil)!