|Posing in the gravel pit.|
|Gesa & Paco at the top.|
|Paco picking his way carefully down a little hill in the slippery snow.|
It was not a good end to our ride, though we had done the 11.6 miles with an average pace of 5.2 mph and he had done some things really well, like being careful on the bad footing. It felt like we were really at odds with one another and not functioning like a team at all. Part of the trouble could be the fact that I was very sleep-deprived and exhausted, and he is already starting to get bored with doing the "same" ride all the time. Also, I know that we have some saddle fit issues, and soreness will definitely make a horse out-of-sorts. At any rate, I turned him out for the night and went to bed early!
The next day we went out for a solo ride to get our heads together again. His back was a bit sore from the long ride (surprisingly, the saddle is not starting to fit any better on its own!) and he had little rubs from the gaiters on his hind Gloves. So, I left him barefoot, tossed the bareback pad on, and we set off for a little wander with no purpose other than to enjoy ourselves. A zero-pressure ride was just what the doctor ordered.
We picked our way through the trails out back, where the footing is pretty bad with alternating areas of mud and ice/snow. The little stream which usually runs through a culvert on the trail was flooded and rushing over the trail, but a little lookie-loo at that for a bit and he walked right on through it (good boy!). We sank through snow & hit water beneath several times, which surprised him but he again stayed calm. One section of mud was particularly deep & sucking, and that was no trouble either. In fact, I would say the whole ride he was a model citizen and seemed happy, relaxed, and very willing. I was happy & relaxed, too. There was the little incident of the grouse, and then a little later the ducks - but besides a quick shudder in place at those frights, he just kept right on moving without any balking about being out alone or rushing to go faster. We made a loop out of it, passing through the farmyard at Red's barn and home along the road. He was so good we even cantered along the shoulder of the road, all nice & relaxed. He didn't even break stride when we came even with the hayfield at the corner and saw a man dressed in a green sweatshirt lying prone in the grass. Both Rhio & I did a double take at that, and I shouted "Hi!" and got a response of "Hi!" back, so at least I knew the guy wasn't dead or something. But it was a very odd thing to see - why would you lie down in the middle of what was probably a cold, wet, muddy field?
So now you know how two rides can be so very different in tone & emotion; one was not fun at all, really, and the other was bliss.