100-Day Challenge

Day 30: Solo Trail Ride

Horse in a hayfield at sunsetDAY 30. Good weather. Good horse. Good ride!

I needed a relaxing ride after a stressful few days, so we opted for a long trail ride to the Skookumchuck Wildlife Preserve. One of the best ways I’ve found for coping with “people problems” is to spend time around horses… Live in the moment.

This was Solar’s first time riding off the property by himself. My favorite parts of the ride were when he went so deep into the river that we took an unplanned swim, cantering through the hayfields (on both leads!), and the sound of horseshoes clopping on the pavement (I keep my personal horses barefoot).

We attempted to capture video footage from the ride via helmet cam. It’s a long video with a fair amount of shaking (don’t watch if you’re prone to motion sickness), but it gives you a taste of the types of trails Solar has been developing his confidence on.

I noticed that without another horse Solar was hesitant again with terrain changes and navigating obstacles like logs. When he’s confused or concerned about something he likes to take a second to process the situation before moving forward. He also will startle in place sometimes if he’s surprised. He needs a supportive rider at this stage in his training to encourage him to “think on his feet” and reward him when he makes successful attempts.

The nice thing about Solar is that he expresses uneasiness in an extremely manageable manner. He does not bolt, buck, run, spin, or do anything “dramatic.” This good-naturedness makes him safe for less experienced riders, but an easy-going personality isn’t the same as being trained and obedient to rider communication.

I’m mindful about pushing Solar to step outside of his comfort zone. Being a safe horse is not the same as being a trained horse, and Solar still needs education about listening to aids promptly, even when he is unsure. So far Solar always tries to work with me, even if he’s confused. I focus on rewarding the smallest of good efforts, and correcting the wrong efforts. Each time he successfully does something he was unsure about before, his confidence builds and he begins to focus and relax. Ultimately, the goal is that Solar will learn to process new things on “rider time,” not “Solar time.”

Happy Trails!

** Thank you Linda Dupertuis for lending us the helmet cam! It was a fun experiment. I’ll be sure to adjust it for the next ride so we get more ears in the picture and the helmet moves around less–it was a little too big. **

6 Comments

  • Marion Main

    I really enjoy these video’s of your progress together, and the fact that not only are you a great trainer/rider, but also a great writer! !

  • Linda DuPertuis

    That was great fun to watch. His ears are so expressive when he’s thinking and watching what’s going on around him. Good boy in the scary hay fields! That dragon gate counts as a pretty big obstacle too.

    Yes, the helmet is pretty big for my big head. If you want to try to re-aim the mount so that corner of the helmet doesn’t show, loosen the mount with a hair dryer and re-set it. If it doesn’t work no worries, I’ll just get a new mount. Tell me if I need to get one right away so you have it again before Solar is totally trained and the perfect horse.

    Horses are better people than most people, so time with horses is the best when people are being, well, people.

  • Chesna Kimek

    @Marion Thank you for the compliments! I’m grateful that you are following along 🙂

    @Linda Ah yes, the neighbors’ dragon gate… Thanks again for letting us borrow the camera; I’ll see what I can do. I’d like to try it out jumping, but only if I can get it on tight enough.

    @Barbara Thanks for reading Grandma; love you too.

  • Debō Hoonan

    I’m speechless
    Well, I just rode 9 races and laying here with ice. I can barely see straight but watched your jumping vid and then went on the trail ride with you. I’ve been smiling the whole time with an occasional tear of joy. I never met Solar but I live for, and through the horse. I can’t tell you how happy this makes me. i want to thank you and the other trainers, from the bottom of my heart for giving your time, patience and love to these horses. You’ve watered my hope seed tonight. It’s funny, I’ve also mentioned many times that one of the (many) great lessons/gifts ‘the horse’ has given me, is being in the here and now. Live the moment!
    Peace, love and may ‘the horse’ be with you!
    🙂
    Happy trails (another thing I say/sign often too:-)

  • Chesna Kimek

    Thank you Debo for reading and for your care for the horses. You are totally right about being in the here and now–riding is like a daily does of mindfulness. Good luck to you in the races!

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