Nothing beats a sunny day on the trail with friends. KC and Bette met me at a gorgeous nature preserve in NC for a hunter pace yesterday and it did not disappoint. I was a bit worried how Eeyore would handle the controlled chaos of the parking area and spent a lot of time Saturday night debating on hauling him tacked or not. Dusty eventually told me “treat him like the good boy he is and tack him up at the ride like you prefer”. He was right. If I want him to be the way I want, I need to start treating him that way.
I planned my arrival an hour before our agreed meeting time so that I wouldn’t feel rushed in registering and tacking up. He was surprisingly pretty nonchalant unloading though I think having horses in every direction really helped him. The only time he lost his cool was when others were mounted and rode off in the distance without him.
Unfortunately Bette had some trailer issues and ended up pulling in just over an hour late. Eeyore was keeping it together as best he could but by then he was pretty hot and bored with the whole thing and most of our neighbor horses were out on trail. I ended up taking him into the field a few times to do ground work and help refocus his brain.
Once KC and Bette arrived and got checked in, it was time to hit the trail! Being a hunter pace, we had no clue how far the trail was or what to expect. This was the first time on these private trails and all I could see was an uphill start.
The start was backed up a bit with large groups of riders and I got a bit nervous about how he would take other groups riding off. He wasn’t perfect but after I parked him beside Bette on Mason he was ok enough while we waited our turn.
Then it was the count down and we were off! It felt like we should kick them into a gallop with the count down and all, but I wanted Eeyore to learn to control himself so I had asked KC and Bette if it was ok with them for us to walk and they were cool with it.
The trail itself was a gorgeous mix of wide mowed grassy paths and winding wooded trails. We found plenty of opportunity to open them up in long canter stretches and Eeyore was a very good boy throughout. He was a bit bargey when another group passed us and moved out ahead but really at 8 years old and with his last trail experience being in October (7 months ago) I’d say he was darn good.
We chatted about life, horses and future plans as we wandered along. There were several pretty scary bridge crossings that were basically elevated cement platforms with moving water underneath and no side rails and Eeyore went over each without hesitation even leading over a few of them. Really he never said no except at the very start when he was in the lead and saw the first ribbon.
By the time we hit the mandatory hold, he had the wind knocked out of his sails a bit and was really hot and tired. We waited in line at the water trough and he drank some good deep drinks while I poured water over him with my drinking cup. Only a few people were obnoxious and rude and we managed to get out of there without me killing anyone so that was another win in my book.
We all got ready to remount and tackle the last section of trail and I wasn’t thinking much as I grabbed the saddle and got ready to swing my leg back over Eeyore. KC had asked to ride him and the plan was to switch at the hold. Well, she had not forgotten that even if I had and politely pointed out that I was mounting the wrong horse. Hahahahaha!!!
I’m not sure I could have stopped KC from riding Eeyore LOL! She looked good on him
I happily handed her his reins, kicked Bette off her gelding making her ride KC’s borrowed mount Finn (also owned by Bette so it wasn’t like I made her ride an unknown horse so I could steal her saint of a gelding though I might still have done it LOL) and we all left the hold on different horses to finish the ride.
Eeyore was a really good boy for her, not a surprise – she rides fantastically, and we found plenty of places to open up so she could experience his lovely canter. For his part, my new ride Mason was a saint and I surprised myself at how comfortable I felt on a strange horse in strange tack cantering down the trail. Not that long age and I never would have done that.
The hold had been at the 2/3rds mark so we didn’t have much more to go. The trail got pretty steep and I wanted KC that Eeyore has zero sense of where his feet go and sorta just relies on gravity to get him to the bottom of hills not really caring if he ends up there in a heap. She did get to experience this though it was made worse by some idiots coming flying up behind us without warning.
I did threaten to send Eeyore back with KC and steal Mason but he doesn’t jump and I’m still hoping to do xc some day so that ruled that out. Plus uh well Bette owns Mason and so me stealing him and giving KC Eeyore wouldn’t really work our for Bette. 🤷♀️
He was too tired at the end to care about being on the trailer with no other horses around. Also, I had debated which saddle to use and ended with the Wexford. Besides needing a smaller girth it worked really well, was comfy even after all those hours and he was not reactive anywhere at the end. It’s a keeper!
We arrived back safe, sound and while hot and thirsty, happy. Eeyore got a bucket of water with Cool Down in it back at the trailer which is my favorite way to end a hot ride for my horse. He drank deeply from am offered bucket and dug into his hay bag before dozing off while I got everything put away. He was pretty tired but happy and I’m hoping he learned a thing or two during that outing.