This handsome young fellow is Spirit. He's a 5 year old TB that I have in for training. His owner plans to use him for trials, and my job is to make sure he's a perfect gentleman. He's very special to me because he was the first horse I started professionally. I put 90 days on him 2 years ago, and then he went home to grow up for a while. This photo is him on his first day back in training.
Spirit has always been a pretty easy going fellow. Uncharacteristic of his breed, his biggest hurdle was creating forward energy. He would rather stand around for pets and cookies. Our re-introduction to riding went off without a hitch. He picked up the work routine again like he had never left the farm. BUT, he has been such a slug. Getting him to pick up a walk rather than a mosey was a project. He also spooks at the poles in the corner, and the corner with the mailbox, and when cars pull into the parking lot.
Needless to say, I was a little apprehensive about our first trail ride last weekend. After all, I'd only been riding him for 2 weeks (6 rides), and we were still having a lot of problems. It's not that he was terribly naughty in the arena, but he wasn't giving me a lot of confidence in his level headedness either. I didn't really have a choice, so I sucked it up and made my plans. I brought a whip in case of balking, two good horse companions to sandwich us in safety, and a good rope halter and lead in case we needed to do some ground work out on the trail.
We loaded up the horses on a pleasant Sunday afternoon and headed to the trailhead. This particular one only has parking on a wide shoulder of a fairly busy road, but that didn't bother anyone. Hallelujah!
Here he is, waiting patiently :)
As we set out, I was mentally prepared for a torturous battle in the woods, but boy was I in for a suprise. He. Was. Perfect. Not one jiggy step, not one spook, or even a refusal. He went up, over, and through everything I asked him to. Although, he did skirt the edges of puddles and mud in order to keep his little hoofies clean. The only time I dismounted was to go over/under a fallen tree that came up almost to his chest with a low hanging branch overhead. He even turned and approached the large, barking dog that we encountered.
Sandwiched in between the more seasoned horses.
We ended up riding for about two hours, and a great time was had by all! I think I've found Spirit's calling. Now just to adjust our arena rides for more success and less arguement. I think we'll spend more time working with obstacles and less time worrying if his circles are round and supple.
Guapo, one of our trail riding companions, is ready to head home and eat dinner!