So, my usual Friday lesson was cancelled (well in advance) because my instructor is taking some folks down to the Cape (Cape Cod) for a beach ride. (It's about a 3-4hr trip down and an extra-long ride along the beach, they only schedule them on weekdays. It is also a walk/trot/canter ride, so not for me yet.) But we rescheduled to a trail ride yesterday.
At first, I wasn't going to get to ride Toby, because his leaser was supposed to ride, but they cancelled, so, when I got there my instructor said I could ride him I just had to tack him up quickly. Sweet! Can do. (I was going to ride Nugget, who is perfectly lovely to ride, and I would've had no qualms on him).
For some reason, several of the other horses remain hopeful that I have treats. I don't know why. I have never given anyone treats. I don't think I even smell like treats? Jasper, who I've ridden once, and Chief, who I've never ridden AT ALL, both seemed to think I might have snacks. Weirdos.
The ride was going to be Instructor, me, and two people who've gone on trail rides before. Then there were two walk ins, which necessitated fetching another couple of horses and tacking them up. That made six. The walk-ins said they'd ridden before. The trick with larger rides (or any ride, but the larger ones in particular) is making sure everyone's personalities match up. Jasper is very forward, but Baby doesn't like ANYONE up her butt, and Nugget chisels away at the ride at his own pace. So Baby went behind Steel, the lead, and then Nugget behind her (because Nugget will never get up on anyone's butt), followed by me on Toby, and Jasper, and Louie behind Jasper. (I don't know Louie well).
So the woman riding Jasper is a large woman and Jasper is basically the only one suited to carry her. Like I said, he's forward, but also kind of a weenie and is one of those horses who won't trot/canter if their person is unbalanced. Unfortunately, while she's ridden several times on the trail before, she also can't/won't correct him when he decides it's time for a snack or he tries to sneak up in line. (a little of both?) So my job on Tobes was to keep Jasper in line - Jasper tries to sidle up, Toby flat-ears him, and Jasper slows down. As my instructor also explained, she didn't really trust the woman to trot on Jasper, and said that she trusted me to have control over Tobes enough to slow him down and keep Jasper from plowing ahead, and also to keep Toby to a walk if necessary and prevent Jasper from speeding up. Basically, my job was like a middle-of-the-line drag - make sure everyone is still there, and keep an eye out for trouble. (When she's guiding, she asks if people want to *try* a trot - there's a limited number of sections you can trot on, and if the first patch doesn't go well, she'll keep quiet about any other good spots.)
Everyone had a good time, which is the important thing. I try to take trail rides as an opportunity to practice things like balance, and to apply things I learn in the ring about controlling a horse over and through obstacles. I do like a nice, quiet ride (and my god, the scenery on a crisp fall day is just outstanding - especially as the sun is tilting in the afternoon), but I also like being trusted (even assumed) to be responsible and give help when it's needed. And spend more time with the horses, of course.