First, the bad. I want to work with Heidi so that she will ride out alone. At the moment, it’s a struggle. She fights me and tries to go back to the barn if I try and take her out solo. I worked with her the other day and she would start off down the road then try to turn around. We left and came back 6 or 7 times. Sweet Baby Jesus, this horse will try your patience. I ended by walking her down the road, then getting on her and riding her home. This is just one more challenge to overcome, and it will take time like all the others.
Now for the good. My friend and I rode at a new trail about 45 minutes away this morning. Heidi was absolutely fantastic the entire time. We met another endurance rider at the trail head and set off together.
Our new friend is further along in the conditioning process than we are and her horse (Arab/ Trahkener cross) is faster and ready to do more trotting. She eventually left us behind but, while we rode with her, Heidi was perfectly behaved. She sniffed noses politely and followed him with no problem.
I’ve said before that Heidi’s preferred speed is akin to a slug. She is completely happy to walk the whole way. Every now and then she’ll trot a hill on her own but, otherwise, homegirl wants to walk. True to form, Heidi remained at a walk while the other horses trotted off. It did not bother her one bit. She trotted when asked, with a happy attitude even, but she would have walked the whole way if I let her.
One thing you hear about in endurance is the self-preservation instinct that some horses have more strongly than others. Some horses (like my thoroughbred, Baron) get nervous and won’t eat or drink until they calm down. Baron rarely drinks anything on a trail ride. He’ll graze but he’s funny about water. Not Heidi. There could be a dragon on the trail and she would still be trying to grab some grass. She drinks when we come to a creek, slurps loudly to be exact, and she never gets so upset about anything that she goes off her feed. That horse lives to eat. That is great for endurance though!
In the past, Heidi has had some pretty serious resistance to being ridden. She is at her best on the trail, but today she got an A++ for behavior. She was pleasant, cooperative, and a joy to ride. Her fitness level has improved and I think we’re ready to start doing some longer distances or trot more on the short rides.
Today I could not be happier with her!