(Wanted to add I only used the polos because I knew we wouldn't run into any water on the trail or really thick brush. I wouldn't use wraps if I thought they might get soaked or ripped off! ;))
I got out to the barn at like, 10. Watched a lesson with an advanced student, then watched one of Emma's advanced kids ride. Then then we all went on a trail ride. Emma on Star, a paint gelding she's training to be a trail horse for someone, and the little girl on a super fat large pony gelding named Grasshopper.
I have decided to really incorporate trail riding into Amber's training. Not only do I want her to be a reliable trail horse when I just want to go out and have fun, but I think it will help her be confident through XC courses in a couple of years when we go on to eventing. Not to mention I think it would be super fun to do some light endurance competitions maybe. I've been looking into it lately...seems like fun!
This works out well since Emma is trying to train Star to be a steady trail mount. His owner is an older woman who is a dead beginner. Star is really too much horse for her. He's improved so much over the past couple of months with Emma's training, but he's a very nervous horse and it's going to take a while before Emma can get him to have confidence being ridden all around. So Amber and I can go with her on her training rides and have some company.
Today, I decided that Amber would lead, no matter what. I decided to not let myself get nervous and getting timid when she does. She hesitated a little going into the woods, but went without fuss. Then a few yards down the trail, she stopped and stood like a rock. I sat and pushed, she just sat still, ogling at something. I gave her a good boot with my leg and gave her her head and she didn't balk at anything the rest of the ride.
Then I realized, Amber's been getting scared of being on trails because I was scared. I knew it in the back of my mind all along. She felt me feeling afraid, hanging on her mouth, and she thought "Oh, she's scared, I should be on alert because it must be danger!". I kept 0 contact with her the entire ride. I let her have her head and she had a blast! You could tell she was so proud and full of herself for being the leader. We came back from the trail and rode all around the farm. Around the pastures, down by the house and the old tobacco barns. She didn't bat an eye, even when Star was shying by the house and barns. We rode around the pastures by the road, and some ladies were getting out of their car at a house right in front. They were tickled to see our little group of riders and we all waved.
We went across ditches and back around by the field. Back around the arena and our ride finally ended. We trotted a couple of times but it was really laid back, but it was great fun.
I think we're doing it again on Monday. Might do some work in the arena too, she does need some practice in there, but I think it's really beneficial for us to do these loose rein, laid back trail rides. It's mentally cleansing to get away from the stress and focus arena work takes. I don't want to get burnt out in the arena, nor do I want Amber too.
Finally, I leave you with a picture of the princess drinking iced tea. Spoiled? Noooo, what makes you think that. She actually loves tea, and she likes to lick the ice out and eat it. But I don't really like her to do that...not good for her teeth.