Monday, July 16, 2012

Trail Ride, Take 2

Last week I told you about my, uh, frustrating first trail ride with Roxy, my lesson horse at Touchstone Farm. The experience was a dud as a trail ride, but it was an outstanding lesson. I learned many things that afternoon that educated me about my horse and improved my riding. I’d like to pass them along to you.

1. That girl has a mind of her own.

Roxy, or any horse, brings her own perceptions and preferences to every situation. (So I do, of course.) Trying to understand circumstances from Roxy’s perspective helps me make more sensible choices and communicate them to her more clearly.

2. Trail rides are not Roxy’s thing.

I get that now.

When I think of trail riding, I’m thinking this:
Roxy is apparently thinking this:
Roxy prefers her routine in the ring. She likes to be among the horses and humans she knows. In the ring, Roxy knows the drill much better than I do. Even when my aids aren’t clear, she makes very good guesses about what I want.

What does this mean for trail riding together? For one thing, I need my A game every minute on the trail. I need to know what I want, and ask Roxy for it clearly and consistently. I also need to let her know that I appreciate it when she complies.

3. Roxy is a good horse for the trail. No, really.

Roxy might be naughty, but she isn’t going to shy at chipmunks or noisy farm equipment. Even when she’s trying to convince me to turn around, she will pause to stand quietly as a car passes us on the road. She won’t bolt, buck, or do other scary things. This is why she’s usually riding with the Pony Farm campers on their overnight camp-outs on the trail.

(But Roxy might get loose during the night and eat the grain and hay for all the horses, as she did on a camp-out a few weeks ago. No campers were harmed in the incident, although some horses were really ticked off at having their breakfasts stolen.)

4. Roxy has a generous heart.

Despite having her own ideas about trail rides and a great deal more, Roxy nearly always does as I ask her to. When our wishes conflict, I am reminded that with her size and strength, she has the power to get her way any time she chooses.

And yet, she doesn't choose. She gives in and does it my way, and she doesn’t hold it against me. For that, she can have MY breakfast.

See you around the farm.

Kathy McDonald
Volunteer and Rider at Touchstone Farm

1 comment:

  1. i love this, Kathy! it totally put a smile on my face! :o)