Allow me a moment to CELEBRATE! Pump my fist in the air, do a little dance, YEE HAW!
Today I took Gabe out on his first foray into the wild, scary world out of the arena. Granted, it was with his nose on Calypso's tail and Chief in the lead making sure all the horse-eating monsters got him first, but out into the world we went.
He was fabulous. Relaxed but looking around and interested, walking with purpose, but not rushing. He was responsive and paying attention to me and didn't get excited, even when a bird flew out of the field right next to us and startled me. But not him!
We started with about 25 minutes working in the arena. He was okay, not on his best behavior and acting a little goofy, but not horrible, either. I always expect the occasional bad day, and today was his bad day in the arena.
Actually, I started the whole ride with a fight with him not wanting to go to the arena at all because getting there required him walking past the pigs. OH GOD! THE PIGS! The beast has walked past them before without issue, but this time, the piggies were being quite vocal. Terrifying little horse-devouring piglets they are. Squealing and carrying on like they were going to rip his legs right off and beat him with them. Eventually, he decided that if I was walking past them, they couldn't be to bad. We walked back and forth past them a few times until he relaxed and stopped giving them the terrified white-eye. Goof ball.
Then, in the arena, there was something in the woods he knew was waiting for him and refused to walk near that edge of the arena. Another little argument ensued and we did lots of backing up and circling. I had to spank him a couple of times with Mr. Whippy and he took exception to that and tried to buck me off into the dirt. The buck FELT huge, but Robert said his hind legs only came about a foot off the ground. Bad pony! Bucking does not help you get your way, it only makes me more determined! Eventually he went where I directed and I made him stand there before walking away and doing over again about four more times. He finally relaxed, sighed, licked his lips and quit being a butt about it.
We trotted a bit, circles, straight lines, figure eights. I have to keep our circles pretty big because he is so freaking unbalanced. That's one thing about a huge horse...they take a little longer to figure out where their feet and body go while carrying a rider and I really, really have to think about myself and my position on the turns. Which is good for both of us. Riding Calypso has gotten me into a bit of a bad habit of just being a passenger not a rider and partner. Gabe is kicking my butt and insisting I ride absolutely correctly. Have I mentioned he has a TO DIE FOR trot? Holy mackerel! Big, floating and smooth as silk. He really moves out and I know when I get that trot more under control and balanced and working, there's a good chance he's gonna toss me to the moon when it comes time to sit it. Guess I need to start working more Pilates into my workout routine and get my core ready to sit that thing.
Our "trail ride" consisted of walking down to the end of the driveway and back...which is just about a 1/2 mile total. Robert and Kayleigh wanted to take our woods trails, which are on our property and I keep them well-maintained, but I didn't want to push it too much. He took his first hill with a rider today, going from the arena up to the driveway and the woods trails have hills that are a bit steeper, and narrower. I don't need to push him quite yet, not when he's still as unbalanced as he is. Step by step. He was already being perfect for his first time out and I wanted to end on a perfect note. Next time, we'll add the woods trails to our trip. Yay! I'm SO excited! I cannot wait to get him road broke so we can go on longer rides. That will probably happen closer to fall, when the fields are harvested and we can ride on the edges of the fields instead of on the side of our little one lane road. Not that we get much traffic at all, hardly any actually, but, all things considered, I'd rather get him used to traffic along the road in the field, rather than on the side of the road where things can go bad quickly. We have to ride along the road to get down to the bottoms where all the good trails are.