Today was a big day for Ares and Anastasia. We loaded Dressy and Ares into the trailer and took them over to the Vivian Forest for a real grownup trail ride. This was Ares’ first ride away from home. And he was a star!
He loaded up on the trailer without hesitation, and rode quietly. Which I pretty much expected, given that he’s a Standardbred off the track. They get a lot of trailering experience. He ate almost all the hay in his hay bag on the way over. Which is impressive. It’s only a 15 minute drive. But as a racehorse, he’d never have been given hay on a trailer before. And it obviously surprised and delighted him.
He stood quietly while Ana tacked him up, eating what was left of Dressy’s hay bag. And he stood like a rock while Ana mounted. He is amazingly good about that. I’ve been watching him over the last week, and haven’t seen him even shift a foot while she gets on. She even got off him a couple of times out on trail today to adjust tack and he stood perfectly while she hopped back on.
First we headed down to the dog pond. Dressy normally marches directly into the water. But there was a guy with a guitar, singing loudly, by the shore. Neither horse approved. Dressy kept staring at him with her laser beam mare glare and it took her a long time to commit to going into the water. She loves water. But I think she was afraid it would slow her down if she had to bolt off madly to safety. Ares was just sort of hiding behind Dressy. He did eventually follow her partway into the water. Though I don’t think he really drank much.
The trails had a lot of washouts from the heavy rain we had yesterday. But the sand was wet and packed, so it was mostly good footing. We did a lot of walking, just to give Ares time to look around and get confident. But he seemed quite happy to be out there. He went in front, went behind, and travelled beside Dressy. When he was out in front, he showed considerable interest in any little singletrack side trails. So he’s showing signs of being an explorer.
At one of the worst washouts, he wasn’t too sure how to negotiate the holes, and opted to turn around and go behind Dressy. But otherwise he was good out in front. We did a bit of trotting here and there. And towards the end of the ride, I let Dressy gallop up a couple of hills and Ares followed just a bit more sedately at a canter.
All in all it was a most uneventful ride. Just exactly what you’d want for, and from, a green horse. Ana had a big smile on her face at the end. A little over 9 miles in 2.5 hours, and she wasn’t even very sore.