Life is busy and I'm sorry I haven't had the time to reply to everyone's comments. Please be assured that I enjoy reading all the contributions here!
Egrogan, so true what you say about new riders needing help to get out of the arena. Riding outside is a while different skill set, and yet I suppose most novices learn only in the arena. Then it's your problem how to transfer your knowledge of horse-riding to keep safe in a completely different situation.
I learnt so long ago that I can't remember many details of my lessons. I have a faint memory of being taken round the fields in early lessons, but still not quite the same as trail riding, and in any case the ponies were 110% bombproof and the fields were safe and familiar. When my parents bought me a horse I started hacking out under supervision, in company of the BO, but I don't know if that would have been a possibility on a lesson horse. I can imagine your first time out on Izzy - as a thinking, worrying adult - was quite nerve-wracking. It's so much easier to do these things as kids when you neither think much nor worry. Good on you for working through the fear and getting out into the countryside!
I had a great ride on Macarena the other evening. I'm delighted to say that we are now over the hump of her barn sourness, and although she still tries things on a bit, she's not committed to her protests. She does it more out of habit and to see if I'll give in and let her have her way. But when I say no, we're doing it my way, she doesn't get dangerous like she was doing several months ago. No running backwards, sidling under trees to get me off, or threatening to rear. What a relief! I hated all that business.
We went on a figure of eight route which took us out into the pine forest, round the block and back to the solar farm. There's a crossroads in the track here with one track leading straight home, which of course was her choice, and another track leading off alongside the solar farm and which is another round the block route, which was my choice. We had a brief discussion and I just had time to think "I've got to win this argument whatever" when she gave in. Just a few steps from the crossroads there's a patch of grass that she likes so I let her have five minutes grazing as a reward. Of course she kept trying to nose towards home while she was grazing, doing it casually as if she was merely seeking it the tastiest stems - which always happened to be behind her lol. Every time she tried to swing around and face back to the crossroads I blocked her and suggested equally tasty stems in my direction. So funny how you can see them trying to fool you!
We did a lot of trotting, mostly away from home but thanks to our figure of eight route I also did some trotting towards home. She tries to speed up and do an enormous trot but I turn her head and leg yield her a step and she slows down for a few paces, then tries it again. I can so understand how Halla learnt to go forwards with her head and neck sideways. It seems instinctive to me to do this to slow within the gait, but I'll have to be careful or I'll end up with Macarena corkscrewing her neck on me too.
We met a tractor and she stopped politely and waited for it to pass. A dog that followed us barking was a bit more bothersome, but when it got too close and her ears were right back I turned her to face it and we chased it off. She enjoyed seeing the dog turn tail - she's not a dog fan. My mastiff Astrid accompanied us today, so of course the other dog soon came back and they both had a great romp through the lettuce fields. The lettuce has been harvested and the remains of the crop are waiting for the sheep to raze the field, and the dogs thought it was a perfect place to play. We were very close to home at this point and I let Macarena graze in the verge while I watched their antics. Flamenca was in earshot, and was being noisy, but Macarena didn't take much notice which shows me that - finally - she is just as happy in my company as in the company of her boss mare.
I've taken both of them out to graze in the big fields where I used to school Macarena and where she got freaked by the dirt bikes. Most of the weeds there are inedible but we've found a few acceptable patches, and the good thing about these fields is that they lead right up to the horses' corral, with only an infrequently-transited track between, so I felt confident to leave Macarena loose and hold on to Flamenca. Normally I hold Macarena's lead because I know that Flamenca won't do anything unexpected and I feel confident to leave her loose even when they're grazing beside the track.
Macarena is a fidgety grazer. She likes to move around a lot looking for the best mouthfuls, not like Flamenca who eats like a lawn-mower. Soon she was far away from us, she gave herself a scare and came bombing back towards us for safety. I was pleased to see her reaction - when in doubt, run to mum and the boss mare, they'll make everything ok.
On our return journey, she took off a couple of times, cantering for the sheer fun of it (the old lady's so boring and slow lol). Then she waited for us to catch up. The last time she headed off we were close to the corral, she cantered right up to the gate, swung around and headed back our. But instead of coming back into the field she went into the peach plantation that runs alongside the fields. The peach trees are separated by fairly narrow aisles, way too narrow to turn at the canter, and Macarena was going at speed so I wondered what she would do. She either had to calm down enough to stop and turn, or she had to gallop right down to the far end (at least 400m) where she'd be able to turn and come back. Of course, that's what she did. Flamenca and I were arriving at the corral when we heard drumming hooves in the trees and Macarena appeared, still at the gallop, in a different aisle. This time she galloped straight across the track and into the corral where she stopped and gave a tense snort of high excitement and alarm. I was just in time to get Flamenca in and shut the gate before Macarena thought of heading out again for more fun.
The next time I took them out to graze in those fields, I left Macarena loose again but she didn't so much as break into a trot, not even on the way home when a combine harvester passed on the nearby road. I think that gallop left her very relaxed! I believe that every horse needs to be unrestrained in a large area from time to time, to get the itch out of their heels - and half an hour in those fields is the best I can offer her.