DAY 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.”
** 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. **