WE DID IT!
We went on a real trail ride!
I know it doesn't really sound like it's that big of a deal, but this is a huge victory for me. This morning, after a year's worth of trailer rides to nowhere but the vet clinic, I loaded up the Mother Marester and ventured into NY to the Baxster Land Preserve, known around here as "the Racetrack," where the locals condition their field hunters. Over a hundred acres of seemingly endless rolling green fields awaited us there, filled with stone walls, coups, ditches, and even a water complex. We obviously weren't going to be jumping any of those things, but when we are ready, they are there and open for public use. I've been salivating over this place for nearly a year now, and it was worth the wait. I can't wait to come back here and condition, I think you could gallop forever!
Gogo has a hack day on the actual pavement on Monday of this week, and I am delighted to report that not only did she (mostly) behave herself, but I also trotted her for all of 10 seconds and posted on both diagonals, checking her soundness. She felt exactly the same left to right - perfect!! When she broke so seriously in March, the day before it happened was the day I felt she wasn't quite right on the road. It was nice to feel how amazingly sound she is on a firm surface. She followed up this lovely performance with a 'meh' sort of dressage ride yesterday, giving me some serious snark in our canterwork and doing two outrageous reining spins whilest spooking at imaginary beings. It doesn't bother me when she spins that fast - shows she's catty! - but I'd really rather she didn't do that to her legs, and I told her so. She told me to go fall off a cliff, in fewer and less pleasant words. In the end, I got a pretty nice canter left and right out of her, but it wasn't without tension. She may have been a little tired from the day before, but she felt as sound as ever, so I figured that a nice walk in a field was probably the best medicine I could offer. Much to my delight, this morning under her wraps her legs were actually tighter than I ever remember them being since the injury and ICE cold, so all systems were go on our end. She was cheery and happy to hop on the trailer and see where we were off to.
Her behavior could not have been better. Once she got past the baying hounds in the kennel across the road (her first encounter with them, and certainly not her last!), she stepped out and really relaxed. She cried only once, and as if by magic a man conditioning his hunter came cantering over the hill and past us, so I think that settled her too. After he disappeared, we saw no one else, but even so she stretched down into the bridle and picked up her pace from a small, hesitant walk to a rolling, marching one. Really, after the first 10 minutes of being a little unsure (XC jumps! Wind! Chilly weather! Roundbales! Squirrel!), she melted into the most relaxed trail animal you could ever have wanted. That's my girl.
We were out for a little under an hour, just walked with about a minute of trotting on a flat patch of grass just because. For her first real trail ride in a year, I could not have asked for better behavior, and could not have asked for a nicer day.
I can see that this is going to become a common autumn event pretty quickly.
Staffing Crisis 2010 is slightly less of a crisis than it has been for the past three weeks, so I MAY have a little time to breathe (and blog) now, hooray!
The very special Ridgeway weekend
3 days ago