I'd been looking forward all week to meeting up w/ Jacke and riding at Versailles State Park today, but after getting up this morning w/ temps in the mid-30s, I didn't feel like it anymore! I had an hour-long haul, plus I knew I had to put fuel in the truck (usually Matt takes care of that, but since I've been the one using it lately, I had the honor). Arabee loaded up really well, though she was nervous, and we were on our way. No trouble on the way there, traffic was slim.
Tacked up and I had a bit more horse than I wanted, but she was still controllable. Mostly she was just hooky-necked and looking all around, and I could feel her tenseness underneath me. After a bit we started trotting, and she calmed down pretty quickly. Fortunately after I got in the saddle and we headed down the trail, I remembered pretty quickly why I'd been looking forward to riding out all week and we had a really fun time. Arabee just loves getting out on the trail and looking around. It's fun to watch her enjoy herself.
I was able to ride with a loose rein most of the whole ride today. She was carrying herself in a nice frame it seemed, though its hard to really tell (for me) in the saddle. We walked and trotted the first loop, and then on the second loop I asked her for some cantering. She was VERY GOOD. We cantered a little on the flat, and a little bit on a few uphills - wow what a feeling! I mean, sometimes you can really really feel all that energy going uphill at the trot, but it wasn't like this. I had a coiled spring underneath me cantering up that hill, very controlled, yet on a loose rein. Riding a horse is really an experience of power and partnership you don't get in a whole lot of other realms. It's thrilling when it's right, you know, when you just click and it's smooth because they're willing to accept your leadership and you are able to listen when they're telling you they need to pick their footing, slow down a bit, are ready to move faster, etc.
Tried some new things today. A fleece noseband cover - Just last week she's started showing some rub marks on her nose, so I'm hoping the fleece will prevent that. Also I got my snugpax pommel pack in the mail, and Arabee carried it. It's pretty heavy w/ 2 full water bottles, so I think I'll try to train w/ it from here on out, so she can get used to carrying the extra weight. I was having some trouble w/ flapping, but it was an easy fix by just wrapping the strap once around the breastcollar.
The rubbed off hair in her "armpit" where her legs meet her body in the folds of the skin didn't look any worse. Just in case, next ride, either tomorrow or Monday, I'll try some Desitin on her armpits where she's lost her hair. I don't think it's the girth, since she's got some of the same rubs between her hind legs - I'd say it's just friction of the loose skin and sweat. I may have to use vaseline or body glide to lube her up! If it is the girth, however, using the Desitin will show it by leaving some behind on the girth if it does touch her skin there.
She seems to want to give me trouble loading on the trailer to go home. She's been doing fine getting on to leave home, but coming home she is balky. Got her on and got her home though, and hosed her bottom half off from her belly down, since she was COATED in mud! She enjoys drinking out of the hose. After that I hobbled her in a grassy spot in the sun and out of the wind so she could graze while I unloaded the rest of the trailer. Jack got to eat the remainder of her alfalfa hay bag (yum!) and then I curried her and brushed her and turned her back out. She made a beeline for the waterer, then just jogged around familiar territory til she finally parked herself by some hay, and seemed happy to be back home.
I think I'll have enough horse for 25 miles come mid-April. Now, will *I* have the endurance for it???? I'm pretty sore and tired!