The other day I went on what they affectionately call a "speed ride". I was on Hollywood, who I've owned for only ~3 weeks and this is the first time on large trails with him, and a new saddle with rough out seat and fenders. This was a triple bad combination!
For those who are unfamiliar with the "upstate" of SC, there is a favorite set of trails know as Fant's Grove. This is ~70 miles of trails covering ~17,000 acres in what is know as the Clemson (as in Clemson University) Experimental Forest. Some of it skirts Lake Hartwell. They are very well marked trails and there are maps available. The trails cover most types of terrain and there are many bridges and creeks to cross. All in all, you can ride those trails for years and go a different route each time since the caretakers are constantly changing and improving them.
Anyway ... four of us, three on palominos and Doug on a paint, (apparently he didn't get the email) got there at 9:30 and headed out. Our first incident came after we crossed the first bridge and headed down the "steps" to a creek. There was a large step off that Mike's young horse simply didn't like. While he was urging him forward, the horse got it in his head that there was a bottomless pit that he would fall into if he took that step into the creek so he stood straight up and leaped across in what could best be described as something from a Lippazarian maneuver. Mike tried it several more times and each time got the same result - so we stopped doing that for now.
The next 4 1/2 hours consisted of 35% walking and the other 65% either trotting or galloping (skipped right over cantering). We sped through trees, jumped over logs (we were in Western saddles, BTW), crossed bridges and raced through fields. We stopped twice to give the horses a breather and some water (at the lake).
On the way back, just before we got to the trailers, Mike wanted to see how his horse would now behave at the steps. His young guy walked off the step like he was doing it every day - just needed to get some experience on him.
When I finally climbed off Hollywood, I could barely stand and the inside of my knees were rubbed raw from the new rough out saddle. I enjoyed every minute of it and Hollywood, who is in much better condition then I am, seemed like he wanted to do it again. Too bad Hollywood, it's going to be a while before I do that again. Sunday we are going back for a nice 3 hour walking tour to see the sights that were just a blur on Thursday!