|Good citizens are more marketable. Trust me.|
Sunday, we went on a trail ride at Indian Camp Creek that was definitely a great life experience for Cinna. She still hasn’t been off the farm that much (especially if you compare her to Ruby at the same age), so I always kind of have a “prepare for the worst, but hope for the best” mentality for outings like these. This is the third trail ride off the farm I’ve taken her on, and I’ve been very strategically visiting different trails where she’ll experience a variety of things. Her first off-farm trail ride was at the Katy Trail – there are no technical questions at this trail, it’s just wide, flat gravel. This let me focus on getting her past scary “obstacles”, including pedestrians, cyclists, and bridges. While she had a few panicky moments, overall she took confidence from her trail buddies (my older geldings), and I was pretty pleased with how she handled all the new questions I asked of her (well, I guess our cyclist interactions could have gone slightly better, haha). Our second ride was last month at Rudolf Benitt, and the questions changed a little bit. The terrain and footing was more variable (slight hills and some creek crossings), but less pedestrian traffic to deal with. She stepped up to the plate there as well.
|Needs MOAR LIFE EXPERIENCES.|
Those outings combined made me decide she was ready to try Indian Camp Creek Trail. ICC combines the heavy pedestrian/cyclist traffic of the Katy with the more technical questions and water crossings from RB – but the only way she’s going to get better at dealing with these things is if we go out and do them. So we went! We had an unseasonably cool weekend (highs of only 80!), and while I wanted to go riding Saturday, finishing up the arena lights took precedence.
|That light switch turns the arena lights on. They are D-O-N-E, DONE!|
So I cleared my schedule and dragged my DH and mom out for the trail ride Sunday. Everyone else had the same idea we did, and the place was packed.
|Parking lot full of trailers!|
We left the main trail twice to get in the creek again, in less populated areas, to let her get used to the water on her own terms. The first descent was pretty steep, and she was super concerned, so I got off and led her down (being very careful to stay out of her way and let her sort things out for herself) -- you could see the wheels turning as she managed to pick her way down, and then followed me out into the water with minimal hesitation. I let her splash around for a minute, then led her back out so I could climb back on (thanks fauxbarrys for making that possible, lol).
|Text break provided by a photo of one of the lakes we rode past.|
She had a much easier time navigating the trail back up, and then was a rockstar for the next descent into the creek. This time she confidently struck out on her own, and had a blast pawing and playing in the water – so much so that she caught me by surprise when she dropped and tried to roll! I’m not a stranger to horses trying to roll in water, so every time she stopped to paw I moved her off pretty quickly, but she figured that one out quickly and just buckled and dropped without any pawing. Tragically DH was not filming this, because I would have loved to have it on camera, haha. I felt her start to go down so I had my feet kicked out of my stirrups prepared to get out of harm’s way, but I was able to get her back up without any actual rolling, so just my girth and stirrups got a little wet. Luckily the water wasn’t deep!
Confident that she had conquered the water and the up/down questions under her belt, we went back to the main trail to tackle her concern with cyclists – I think most of our problems on the Katy stemmed from some people not really understanding the rules of the trail and that they needed to yield to equestrians. Thankfully all of the cyclists we met this weekend at ICC were much better about giving us the space we needed to get past safely – in all of our interactions, the cyclists were willing to pull off the side of the trail a few feet and remain stationary while we walked past. I thanked them all profusely and explained she was a baby.
This was also true of the other equestrians we met – depending on how the trail was set up, either our group or a group coming the other way would step off the trail and wait for the others to pass. Cinna did get hung up trying to pass a gray horse (I think she thought it was her mom?) but we all managed with no incidents. The only other notable event was a teleporting spook over a park bench that startled her when we rounded a curve – not sure how I stayed on, but we regrouped and then she got to examine the bench and get cookies from it, which made the rest of the benches we passed less terrifying. Cinna also handled me mucking around in my saddlebags (so I could drink iced tea and eat pretzels out of a crinkly noise bag) like a pro – although I’m not confident with her yet to do an entire trail on a loose rein (I am so spoiled with Ruby), we definitely had some slack rein moments where she just stretched out and motored on at a nice, swinging walk.
I also got to test out my friend’s latest paracord creation, something we’re jokingly calling a TNR (text ‘n ride). It allows you to snap your reins to a D-ring on your saddle. It will probably get way more use on Ruby than Cinna, but it was actually super helpful because towards the end of the ride Cinna shook her neck hard enough for the reins to pop over and both end up on one side of her neck (sort of not helpful for steering? lol). Thankfully she was calm enough at this point I could just lean forward and flip them back, so no disasters.
|I loaned the TNR to my mom briefly so I could get some photos of it in action!|
We crossed the water easy peasy on our way back to the parking lot, and after a quick rubdown, the horses were back on the trailer for the drive home. Cinna was still tired the next morning – DH texted me a photo when he had to go get her for the farrier. Apparently she refused to get up, even letting him sit on her in the stall (which is NOT AT ALL normal behavior for her, haha).
|My phone glitched out for like the first 15 minutes, and then I paused it when we took a break in a shady area and forget to restart it right away (the gap on the right side of the map).|
|Sleepy Cinna on Monday.|
So ultimately I am super pleased with her continuing development – with Ruby, the training process kind of went shows then trail rides, but I think with Cinna it’ll be the opposite. Building trust with her is a different process than it was with Ruby (which is fine, they’re totally different horses!) but adjusting my expectations is leading to some pretty fun outings for us. Don’t get me wrong, I still want to get her in the show ring some this year, but I think continuing to expose her to new trails and obstacles will only help her development as a solid riding horse.
|Very happy with this sassy grey mare.|