Today has been quite a momentous day. Firstly I completed and submitted my tax return this morning – always a daunting task. It had taken pretty much all of yesterday and half of today to pull all the details together, but now it is done and off my mind.
As I walked down the first field to catch Dee I met Red walking up. He wanted me to put the head collar I was carrying on him and seemed quite confused when I did not. I think it is a real testament to how happy Red is with his life at Briwnant that he was walking up to the gate like this. Paul had been down to catch a few horses ready for an afternoon lesson in the arena and also a few others for a trail ride. Red was to be used for the trail ride. Paul had just said to Red that he was wanted too and to come in, and Red had walked up to the yard completely on his own with no headcollar or anyone coercing him just from this. What a good lad.
Dee was in the last field, as far away as possible from the yard! I'm getting fit simply from walking out to get her! It is uphill pretty much all the way back to the yard, so I sometimes find even this quite tiring even before grooming and riding. Soon we were ready to go and today was the day I'd decided to take Dee out for a ride on her own. Readers who have been following my blog for a while will know that Dee will not hack out on her own and naps badly. However there is an idiosyncrasy to this behaviour of which I have become aware: that she will ride through fields but not along a track or road on her own. When we were at Ridgeway, she would happily let me ride her around the fields on her own and even take the path across the field behind the stables, but she would not go down the lane.
One of the many advantages of Briwnant is that they have a lot of land, and there is a short ride I can take from the yard, up to the top fields and only finishing with a little bit of the track at the end. I hoped that because most of it was across fields, and that she would know she was on her way home once we arrived at the track, that she would not nap. It worked! We did the whole ride with no napping – the first time we have sucessful hacked out alone on a complete ride since I have owned her. I feel so proud of her and am absolutely thrilled. It is only a short ride but includes a steep hill, so it does make her work. I did not push my luck today and only asked her to walk the circuit, but I will add an extra field to it at the top as she gets used to it where we can have a trot or a canter.
Hopefully this is the beginning of a more satisfying riding experience for us both. I do wonder whether the napping has something to do with the stoney tracks, and am considering shoeing her on her back feet as well to see if this makes her more relaxed and confident about the tracks. On our Wenallt trail ride on Monday I was very aware of her hesitancy over the stoney parts of the track. My only concern about shoeing her on the back feet is whether I would be equipping her with weapons! Alternatively I could try hoof boots again – I don't think Dee would make the fuss Red made about having boots put on her feet.