Not every ride will be scenic and beautiful and easy. Not every ride will have excitement or breakthroughs or wonderful rights. Some rides you just put in the work, the solid butt building miles, and call it a day. Today was that day. My only goal was at least 10 miles, done slowly as we had Benny along and he’s still young so I’m trying to balance exercise with not pushing him too much.
Tarma let me walk up to her, halter her and wash her feet off pretty quickly, she’s really starting to be chiller to get through the pre-ride routine, she really appreciates the consistency. I tied her up to the trailer with some food and cleaned and finished loading the trailer before booting her and loading up. We were tacked up and mounted by 130, late in the afternoon for most but she’s a lot more agreeable if she gets turnout first. Hardy Creek is my favorite place to ride, endless miles, beautiful single track trails (during the summer) and a butt and attitude busting hill to start. I can judge a horse’s fitness really well by how far up the first hill they get before they need a breather, and Tarma went almost two miles before she paused for a snack and to catch her breath. Improvement for sure, especially as I mounted at the trailer and didn’t walk up the hill myself!
The biggest lesson from today is I need to memorize more songs. Tarma took a few miles to warm up, she was a bit slow and meandering to start with, and she didn’t hit that mile eating march of hers until I started singing. Badly, half remembered bits of songs, but the animals don’t complain when I can’t find the right note. Benny had a blast the entire time, but Tarma was harder to please, she kept nodding every time we passed another track and telling me the main road was boring. We really hit The Bonk today, she just didn’t really want to keep going alone (my company doesn’t always count for much) at just shy of five miles. We took a break, I fed her a few handfuls of LMF, let her graze and then we walked for another five minutes, until I felt her soften and accept the idea we were continuing, and then I let her turn around. Of course we immediately had the “you can’t trot all the way back to the trailer, it’s five miles downhill and we have the puppy along” conversation, but within a few minutes I was again riding sans reins.
I dismounted and loosened her girth back at Annie’s cabin at about mile 7, letting her graze and forcing the puppy to take a lay down break which he did not approve of. Tarma and I did though, I took the chance to stretch, drink and grab a snack. We managed to return to the trailer in one piece with no major mishaps, and we didn’t get rained on. Tarma didn’t want to eat much, even though I tried to tempt her with her favorite coastal hay, two varieties of LMF and carrots…so I hand grazed her for 10 minutes and once I tied her back up she tore into her hay bag. Spoiled horse…
While it’s nice to ride alone, just “my puppy, my pony and me”, I need friends to ride with too! At least for Tarma, as our last several rides have been solo. I still had enough horse “left over” by the time we got home (and she mowed down her trailer alfalfa) to roll and roll and trot out a bit in the arena. We are definitely in a more solid place than this time last year, in so many ways…just not quite endurance pace yet, though that will come.