Yesterday I took Tucker over to the local trail system, just the two of us. It is not uncommon for us to ride out on these trails alone. In fact, this Summer we have spent many an evening and several weekdays enjoying these paths together. Given the off hours we are usually there, we typically have the trails to ourselves passing only the occasional hiker.
Yesterday was different, it was a holiday weekend on a mild 80 degree sunny day. When I pulled into the trailer lot it was filled with other horses and riders. I thought to myself it may get interesting trying to get him to ride out alone while there were so many friends around. We tacked up, I climbed aboard and when I asked him to hit the trail head he marched past all those horses without a second glance. Shortly down the trail we came across another group of riders, we pulled off to the side and watched them pass before continuing on our way in the opposite direction.
I picked a stretch of trail to practice our leads. I’m not usually particular about what lead he is on when trail riding, but I wanted to see if I could influence the lead he was picking up by asking for the one I wanted. To my surprise, he nailed it every time.
As we came cantering around a bend, another group of riders were up ahead, he happily stopped on a dime and pulled far off into the woods since the rider had warned me her horse was “aggressive”.
We meandered through the woods and Tucker didn’t bat an eye at the yappy dogs, baby stroller, hikers, men in elaborate civil war reenactment hats, deer or any other encounter we had.
I was filled gratitude for my partner. As riders we look for our horses to soften to us, to join with us mentally and physically. Dance with us. Yesterday’s ride was the embodiment of this for me. To go so calmly, so willingly through a rather chaotic and changing environment with just me as his guide. To turn the trust over to each other as we happily rode forward down the trail.