Live like you're going to die.
Because we are.
There's a natural progression occurring inside me, and it's this: I work with my horse, I grow closer to my horse, I am willing to take chances with my horse.
On Day 107, I worked on loading Bee into the trailer and having her stand tied as I rode Leah in the arena. She refused to self-load, but she loaded and unloaded with me very well.
On day 108, I ponied B behind Cowboy around our property. Cowboy wasn't the best participant. He kept sending her signals to stay way behind, so I had to bring her up and pet them both until he was okay with her being next to us. He never got as okay as I'd want him.
When we finished, I put Cowboy away and walked Bee to the barn next door to watch jumping practice. It was good for Bee to see the continuity between the barn and our house. Afterall, she's going to be there a lot this winter.
That night, I walked her and Cowboy over to the barn again for a chiropractor appointment.
On Day 110, I worked with Beautiful, oiled my saddle and bridles, and waited for 5 tons of hay to be delivered.
The cats love their hay castle!
Day 111 was the last trail ride for the summer clinic series. It was challenging. Lots of steep hills, narrow paths, pavement with speeding bicycles and lots of pedestrians, a large bridge, and a water crossing.
At the half way point, by this water crossing, we had a picnic lunch. I was with my granddaughter and my son-in-law.
Foxy, my son-in-law's horse, had to take the lead, and she was quite jiggy at first. There was a very loud ORV park at the trail head and it was busy that day...and loud! However, when we got to the steep stuff--the really hard terrain--she mellowed out and did great. She's a horse that needs a job.
Leah was a little antsy at first, too, but got better as the ride progressed. It was five hours in total.
Leah really surprised me in one section. It was super steep and sandy--with some rocks thrown in here and there--and the horses had to really sit back to make it down. I had never seen Leah do that successfully, but she did that day. She really sat back and put on the brakes when she had to. There was a moment when we started to slide, but she had us covered with her big back brake on. I think she was surprised, too. (And, I think the chiropractor work had helped to get better communication between her front and back end.)
Another tough obstacle for us was the water. At first, she wouldn't get in at all, let alone cross. She stopped at the water's edge, and when I tried to urge her in with my legs, I could see a fight brewing. So, I got off and worked with her.
It only took a few minutes, and when I remounted, she went right in with Penny and Foxy.
It was a great day of learning and bonding. I developed more trust in Leah's abilities, and she developed more trust in herself. Rebecca, my trainer, says that next year will probably be her year for getting those trail feet under her and becoming that bomb-proof mount. We'll be doing clinics all through winter to help that happen.
My granddaughters spent the weekend with us, and my younger granddaughter is becoming a horsewoman in her own right. She is determined to learn about horses. Last spring, we welcomed Little Joe into our family to be her horse to learn on.
My friend, who gave him to me, told me he'd make an awesome kid's horse, but I didn't know for sure.
Turns out, she was understating that fact. He is an awesome kid's horse times 100. He walked like a gentleman with little Cat on his back. He did everything she asked like a pro, and he took the most careful, cautious steps!
Afterward, her sister wanted to ride him, too, and she took off trotting and loping. He did it all. Then, Cat got back on and he went right back to walking. What a horse!! And, I think he likes the kids. He's better with them than he is with me.
After this ride with the girls--I rode Cowboy bareback and showed off my skill at loping sans saddle--the girls were impressed! Remember those posts last spring? Well, all that work paid off. I can ride Cowboy bareback at every gait--as seamlessly as if he were wearing a saddle. I love it!
After we put the horses away, Sophie helped me train Bee to self-load, using the technique from the clinic--two long lunge lines tied together. It worked awesome!! She loaded and unloaded all by herself.
Today, I went out to see Beautiful Girl to bring her in for ground work, but as we left the pasture, the black clouds rolled in. I stopped and unhooked her. She stood and let me pet on her and talk to her. She didn't seem to want to leave my side. Eventually, I walked away, but as I turned, there she was watching me in the same spot. I got to the barn and fed the fish in my trough--she was still standing watching me in that spot. She stood in that spot until I was half way back to the house.
And, like that, I had this feeling that I want to take a chance with that horse.
I want to ride Beautiful Girl.