Put in another ride on Thunder yesterday. I had intended to take him out in the morning when I got off work (3rd shift here), as Mondays are the one day I really get a lot of time to ride. However, I wimped out when I realized it was only 28 degrees. Usually the weather doesn't deter me, but for some reason I just wasn't feeling it. I really had no desire to revisit the trails of last week and there was no other place else I could think of that appealed to me.
I woke at 12:30 and found a message from Mark, saying that he and Tanja would be back out that afternoon. Crap. That only gave me a few hours to ride. I headed out and tacked up Thunder. On Saturday I actually bought him a new saddle...I say that now as if it is an everyday occurance, but it honestly was a big deal to me. I have been riding in old hand-me-down equipment for the most part for the past year and a half....including an unknown brand English saddle that I got for $25 (the cantle is too high for my liking and drives me nuts), and an old Cortina with no knee pads (like this saddle better but it is still hard as a rock). And of course there is the treeless I got for Christmas, which I love, but it doesn't seem to fit Thunder quite right (I did order a western riser pad in hopes that this will remedy things). So when I found a like-new beautiful black English saddle at a nearby tack store for only $120, I couldn't pass it up. Turns out, it fits Thunder (and me) perfectly!
Anyway, yesterday was my first real ride in my new saddle (and I can honestly say I LOVE it!). I decided to take a shorter route (a little over 3 miles), to McLeansville and back. It's nothing new really but it does have some good areas for trotting.
Ohmygosh, trotting. We have GOT to work on that! Thunder has really gotten into this whole running thing and thinks he is a racehorse. He tends to trot as fast as he possibly can, head up in the air, breaking into a canter wherever possible. When I give him half halts and attempt to slow him, he just flips his head and keeps going. Normally I would circle him to get him balanced and listening, but this is kind of hard to do on the side of the road. The only thing I could really do was transition down, ask again, and pray that he would soon begin to tire.
He didn't. He kept going and going and going. But, about halfway through the ride, I discovered something. Usually, when on a straight line, I find myself posting his right diagonal, which means I am sitting as his right front hits the ground. I do it without thinking, because I am personally stronger on my right and it is easier for me. However, his right shoulder is also the one that was injured when I got him. For kicks, I decided to try posting the other diagonal to see what would happen. And wow! SO much harder for me to post, but I felt the difference in his gait immediately. His trot was more springy (less flat) and he maintained his pace better - as opposed to his usual speeding up and slowing down. Even though he is sound and has techically recovered from his shoulder injury, I think there is a lot more going on there than we initially thought.
I am also trying to get into better shape, so about a mile away from the barn, I hopped off and walked beside him for a while. (Speaking of which does anyone know of any good riding boots that are comfortable enough to jog in? My current cowboy boots are quite comfy....as long as you keep it to a walk!) When it came time to remount however, Thunder threw a FIT! As soon as I tried to swing aboard, he would drop his shoulder and duck away from me, then attempt to take off at a trot/canter. He tried this 3 or 4 times in a row! I ended up having to groundwork him to get him to stand still long enough for me to swing aboard and then - when I finally did manage to get on - I kept one rein tight so he had nowhere to go but in circles. We continued this until he deigned to stand quietly.
We were almost home when my ADD kicked in and I decided to check out a nearby abandoned house. I LOVE exploring old homesteads, but this one isn't that old so I hadn't checked it out, until then. There was nothing to it really. Just an empty brick residence, a small pond (with POSTED signs surrounding it), and a couple of sheds and a "barn" with several old lawnmowers and miscellaneous pieces of furniture. I was about to leave when I spotted a gate at the edge of yard. As we drew closer I realized that just beyond was a trail leading into the woods so, naturally, we decided to check it out! To my surprise it went quite a ways back - crossing some powerlines and and passing through an overgrown clearing before finally leading out to a huge field. However as we headed up the last hill (still in the woods) we heard shooting and then spotted some four wheelers on the crest of the hill, so we decided to turn back at that point.
Still, it was a great discovery! Later that night, I pulled up google maps to and poured over satellites images of the area. To my delight, I found that the huge fields eventually led to a road, and that across the way is an even smaller gravel rd. I am dying to see what is up there, as it has road signs stating that it is closed to thru traffic. Adventure awaits!
I feel bad for this horse...he lives completely alone, with no companions of any kind. I let Thunder greet him over the fence, but felt horrible when it came time to leave.
I swear there were deer stands every 20 ft or so along this trail! Definitely NOT somewhere I would ride during hunting season! (PS - can you spot the moon in this picture?