Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Sugar and Cookie Go On a Nature Walk...

Pony Takes Point
(Apologies for the blurriness; Sug was a bit antzy.)
This past weekend I decided we'd had enough of ring work, so Sophie and I took the girls out on a little trail ride.  I've always felt that too much time in the ring is like that classic line from The Shining, " All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy." 

About a gazillion years ago I had a wonderful dressage trainer who rarely worked in the ring.  We were lucky enough to have access to all sorts of fields and trails, and I learned that  it completely possible to get a horse to do a leg yield or shoulder in no matter were you were.  In fact, it seemed to better prepare them to listen to the rider no matter what the circumstances were, and it certainly made for happier, fresher horses. 
So, off we go on a beautiful Sunday morning.  The pony decided it was her job to take point, and immediately set off in her little pony power walk, with Sug ambling along good naturedly a few lengths behind.  We'd no sooner set foot in the little wooded area when a trio of crazed chipmunks sped in front of us in a lively game of chase.  For such small creatures, they make a surprising amount of noise. They careened around us for a few minutes while our bemused mounts stood and stared, and then as quickly as they came they were gone.

The next portion of our ride took us into a field, where we were greeted by a red fox.  It was almost as if he had been waiting for us. Cookie looked back at me as if to ask if we were going to give chase, and the fox, clearly no dope, decided he was better off removing himself from the situation.

Are You Following Me?
 On the way back we galloped through the field. As we approached the far end we noticed a deer standing at attention and watching us intently.  Rather than risk a spook and involuntary dismount, we thought it prudent to bring the girls back to a walk and at this pace were able to get within 10 feet of the deer.  Cervidae and equidae stared placidly at each other for few minutes, and then the deer decided to end the staring contest and move off into the forest.  The girls, apparently not done with their new friend, followed.  The doe stopped, turned, and the staring contest recommenced.  We must have stood there, blathering like fools to this poor animal, for about 5 minutes before she trotted off.

It was a great morning.  Nice bonding time with the kiddo (boy, do I hope she remembers this when she's an hormonally imbalanced, angst ridden teenager that hates my guts) and the horses.  Both mares were obviously happy as stoats, moving with long, relaxed necks, swinging walks and letting loose with the occasional gusty sigh. 

I'm now ready to get back into the ring.  What do you to do re-charge your or your horse's batteries?


  1. Great photos! Tucker and I like a good trail ride too, as often as possible. Keeps him from losing his patience with me :)

  2. That's the one thing I wish we had handier; wooded trails to go for a relaxing ride on (we do have them, but it's a trailer ride to get there). Sounds like everybody had a terrific ride :o)