I don’t seem to have had too much to write about lately. But I did have a nice moment with Diego on Sunday. Was riding in the Vivian with friends. One of the horses was green. Really very green. He bounced around on the trail like a pinball, careening from side to side. So we tucked him in behind Diego, and Diego just ambled along the trail on a loose rein. Whenever Indy (the wild child behind us) got too ambitious and tried to careen past us, I asked Diego to step over and block. Which he did with perfect aplomb.
Diego really doesn’t have confidence in the lead. But he also walks really fast. So he slows down until the horse behind passes, then gets impatient and passes again when he discovers that horse is too slow. I ask everyone who rides with me to tell me when they want to pass, so that I can ask Diego to slow up… as opposed to allowing Diego to make his own decisions about it all. On Sunday he only tried it a couple of times and then just marched along out front the rest of the day. So I think his confidence is coming along nicely.
Veronica and Ella spent most of the day riding drag (at the back of the line). It’s safer that way, since Ella has not yet learned the “no kicking other horses” rule (actually, I think she knows it… she just hasn’t accepted it quite yet). But it’s really her only flaw. She is rock steady on trail. Veronica’s confidence has blossomed this summer, riding that mare. They are becoming a very good team.
At one point we let Indy lead for a while to see how he coped. I think that little gelding would’ve gone off alone perfectly happily. One of these days, he’s going to make a terrific little endurance horse. Unfortunately though, going down a very steep downhill, in deep sand, with quite a bit of erosion, there was a tack incident. Stirrup and breast collar somehow tangled, and the resulting chaos sent Indy off trail… cartwheeling downhill. Indy got loose and galloped off, with his buddy, Zoe, following a bit too fast for her rider’s comfort.
Diego and I watched all this in wide-eyed horror. I decided that a cavalry charge down a steep sandy hill was not in anyone’s best interest, and asked Diego to walk. He tucked his behind under him, and carefully walked down. No fussing or rushing. Ella was following safely behind us (Ella never thinks rushing is a good idea). He stopped at the bottom and stood calmly on a loose rein while Indy galloped off in all directions for a few minutes before his brain re-engaged and he elected to return to his rider.
During all this chaos, a large, obnoxious woman on a Percheron bellowed unhelpful instructions to slow down and demanded to know where our trailers were (my friend finally lost her temper and told the woman to mind her own business). It turned out that Zoe’s bridle had come partially undone, so that’s why her brakes stopped working. And both Indy and his rider were fine. In fact I think the rest of us were a lot more shaken up than either of them. The large woman went off in a huff, informing us that we should not call her if we ever needed help. Sigh.
I really do not enjoy that sort of craziness. It’s not good for the horses or the riders’ confidence. But it was a bit of a test, and Diego (and Ella) passed with flying colours. He’s getting steadily more confident, quieter, and much more responsive to leg and rein. It is nice to feel like you are riding the most reliable horse in the crowd