I got to the barn at 8am on Saturday and Liam was still working on his breakfast hay. I pulled out my saddle and bridle, a brush and some fly spray, packed up my helmet and gloves and grabbed a water bottle. It was all in a little pile by the driveway when Mandy showed up a few minutes later with her mare Serlait. We loaded up all my stuff, then Liam hopped on the trailer, and off we went to trail ride! We went over to the Riding Center, a big empty barn that has an indoor arena, outdoor arena, cross country courses, and miles and miles of trail. It is a great facility, and it’s open to the public to use. We met two other friends over there, tacked up and went for a ride.
It was a great opportunity to get Liam out and expose him to new things. For the most part, he was really good. A few times he did have little temper tantrums, when he wanted to be in front and not behind a slower horse, and when he wanted to go faster than I did! We worked through it, and we had a some really fun times too – like riding through the creek! The water was almost belly deep in the deepest part and Liam and I both love to ride into it and splash around. We liked it so much we did it twice actually 🙂
Saturday night my friend Cassie came to visit from out of town. She is also a rider, so we did a little tack shopping, then we headed over to the barn. She got on Liam while I rode another friend’s horse, Jag. Cassie knew about some of the things I’ve been working on with Liam, as well as some of the challenges we haven’t quite figured out yet. It was fun to see someone else ride him and get a different perspective. She felt the same things I did, like his haunches falling in when he canters left, and when she went to push them out, sure enough she got a lead change in back. Usually when I get there I stop him and try again, but she had a different idea. She just kept on going and ignored the lead change. She kept her leg on and he got fussy but he also got uncomfortable cantering that way and he switched back, and she kept her inside leg on, and he fussed, but they just kept going. Then, he straightened out! It worked! So just like Betsy told me in my lesson, I need to be firmer with him and insist he get off my inside leg.
Sunday morning we stopped by the barn for a repeat, but changed our minds since both horses were turned out and looked quite content. Instead, I headed up to Arlington Park to watch some thoroughbreds race. It was a beautiful afternoon for it, and the horses were amazing. I can just imagine Liam there, shining in the sun, feeding off the crowd’s excitement. It reminds me how far I’ve come with him, and why we still find some things so difficult.
Sunday night brought a lot of rain and some strong storms, and Monday morning all the horses were in their stalls due to mud. I put Liam and his best friend Vinnie outside together to stretch their legs while I tacked up and rode Jag. Jag and I had a nice ride, so I untacked him, put him away, and went to get Liam to ride him.
Liam must have heard my plan and had ideas of his own. Maybe it was payback since I rode Jag instead. Maybe it was too hot and Liam didn’t want to go for a ride. Or maybe it was just a hot, humid, muddy day and the bugs were bothering him. Regardless of his rationale, as soon as I saw him, I knew my plan was going to have to change.
I called him over to the gate, and as he turned around I saw that of course he had gotten both sides, and the other side was still wet!
He gave me his “What mom?” face as he saw me deciding what to do. It’s impossible to brush off wet mud, so there was only one option. Bath time!!
He got a shampoo from nose to tail, and a deep condion job on his tail. Then I put him in his stall with a flake of hay so he could dry and I set off to clean out my tack trunk. I took everything out, wiped out the trunk, and then wiped everything as I organized it back in the trunk. By the time I was done, Liam was dry so I tacked up and headed back to the arena. We worked on some figure 8’s at the trot, being careful to smoothly change the bend as we changed directions. Then we did a few canter transitions, and I tried to ride him straight, but I’m not sure that went as well as the trot work. Then we did some stretchy walk, a little leg-yielding at the trot, then we called it a day. It was hot and humid and well past lunch time, and I thought I was going to melt. What a good weekend though!