Horsey Therapist

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Autumn trail ride

Rusty and I went for a long trail ride today in the largest group ever. Eight of us for almost four hours. Up and down, across and around. Most of it quite lively. All of it totally lovely. The trees are changing color, the clear sky allowing for distant views of mountains in Vermont and New Hampshire. This is a big part of why I have horses.

The draw of a group of horses in motion was very helpful although it created its own problems, too. At times it was hard to bring Rusty's mind back to me, like when other horses were trotting ahead of us, or passing us at a faster gait. Every rider was considerate, asking if it's ok to pass. I really appreciated this. I could tell from Rusty's energy level when another horse had livened up, but with the verbal communication from the rider, it gave me clear knowledge of whether they were approaching, or approaching and passing.

We had some lively gallops, some calm trots, some brisk walks, and a lot more. Rusty started out wanting to keep up with the first horse, but by the end, was accepting being in front or behind. I'm not sure he was ever totally comfortable except when doing canter departs and catching up with some horses ahead of us.

I became more aware of how easily he is worried, how easily he follows other horses, how much he tries to please me. I felt I did a decent job with my responsibilities today -- allowing his liveliness but being clear about not crowding the other horses; directing his life when it came up; and really enjoying who he is.

I still hope that one day he'll be more relaxed more often out on the trail. But for our first ride with such a large group, he was awesome.


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