Help me debrief and evaluate my first non-arena ride?
I'm 50+, just started riding a few years ago casually, and after selling one wrong horse, I bought what is seeming to be a very good fit (got her about 2 months ago). She's 12 and has been on hundreds of miles of trails from casual to rigorous. Friday I rode her out for my first time outside of the arenas (indoor and outdoor). I feel like it went well, but I've learned that you experienced horsewomen/men can often 'see' trouble spots where I completely miss them... and sometimes things I think are problematic, you tell me are perfectly normal or give me a quick-fix. I love to hear your insight.
I rode with another woman who was riding a plodding lesson horse, a very laid back steady horse. We kept it simple - rode about 1/4 mile away from the stables with the intent of pasture riding (property with permission), but when we got there we had trouble with the gate, plus there were cattle hanging right at the gate so we decided to forgo that. So then we rode back towards the barn, then turned on another road heading away in a different direction. So, here's a quick description... The good, the bad, the ugly?
- I've been grooming her and tacking indoors all winter. The day was beautiful, so I tied her outside to do it this time. She was pretty interested in everything going on (kids, other horses), and moved around a little more than I like... but a "hey!" made her stop and stand. No big issues, but I guess I'd like a perfect statue ha.
- she stood great for mounting.
- I'm so expecting a horse to be barn or buddy sour (that was my previous horse's main vice), so I was surprised at how eager she was to ride through the gate to the road. We followed the other horse (a horse she's never been around much).
- She was very interested and looking around, but it didn't seem nervous - just kind of excited. If she was a dog, I think her tail would have been wagging...
- she paused at one point when a woman down a side street was wheeling a big trash can... was obscured by bushes... but the moment she saw what it was she kept moving.
- she was walking so fast, that we went ahead and passed the other horse and took the lead. She neck reined and responded to my direction great.
- Her great "whoa" was still operational - but she didn't want to stay standing, and was anxious to keep going.
- when we stopped to ponder the gate, I took her in circles periodically to keep her feet moving... just a neck rein and a little leg was fine. She was a little jiggy when we'd stand for more than a few seconds (nothing that felt dangerous, just 'busy'). There were several horses that ran up to the fence across the street, plus the cows, so she seemed very interested in things.
- there were a number of cars that went by, and at one point an idiot dump truck driver roared past at probably 40mph - we moved off onto the grass shoulder. She didn't even flinch, didn't bother her at all. I could tell she saw and heard them coming, and she never felt tense. They were a non-issue as far as I could tell.
- She never tried to break into a trot or anything above a walk - but she did keep a much faster walk than the other horse... finally that rider suggested we simply pass her and circle around... which we did probably 6 times along a quarter mile stretch of road. She was fine with it but never did slow her walk.
- She didn't walk any faster towards the barn than away, and didn't seem the least bit bothered when we road on past it instead of turning in.
- I wish she'd slowed down a bit, but she never felt nervous to me - just excited. Her head was up from it's 'bored' position, but was never held way high - and she never did any head tossing or arguing... no big eyes. Just some looking around.
So anyway, that was my experience. I was surprised that she wanted to lead! I thought she was more laid-back than that!
Any thoughts? Any red flags? It was fun :) I'm looking forward to future jaunts, I just keep second-guessing things.