one happy pony

Really, this pic and the title says it all.

I made the Pony Girl’s day yesterday went we finally got to go out on trail again. She was absolutely thrilled to be out again, and there’s nothing quite like the view between my favorite pony ears in the whole world.

clear trail and happy ears

A group of five of us from the barn went out and rode up at Usery Mountain Park. It was the first trail outing for barn “baby” Ava, and Mimi is the perfect babysitter horse for accompanying the greenies out on trail. As fussy as she can be about her (very large) personal space bubble, when it comes to guiding the youngsters and keeping track of the herd, she is amazingly tolerant and attentive. So, so proud of my girl. 

And she was so happy, getting to be out in front and leading the whole ride. We didn’t go too far — maybe a touch over 4 miles — but it was more than enough for 5 horses, three of who are young, one who is in her prime but very out of shape, and one who physically older and crunchier than she’d like to mentally admit. 
leading the wagon train of:
Ava – bay warmblood; Silver – white grey Arab;
 Legend – dapple grey Thoroughbred; Gypsy – black paint
It was a great mental workout, too. Usery is a very busy park, especially on weekends, so there’s all kinds of exposure to things like mountain bikers, hikers, strollers, dogs, kids on playground swings right next to the trail, benches plopped randomly along the trail for “rest” points…plus the natural obstacles of cactus, dead logs, dead cactus, lizards, and exploding quail.
And apparently the snakes are out, although we didn’t see any.
Superstition Mountains in the distance

The cactus and wildflowers were in full bloom, since we’ve had a decent amount of winter/early spring rain.

bright pink hedgehog cactus

As fun as it is to ride other people’s horses, there is nothing like my own pony. Especially one who is trustworthy enough to allow me to drop the reins and spend half the ride taking pictures.

transitioned over to the orange/black theme
(that’s Renegade orange, not Halloween, thank you)

She also taste-tested the new Purina ElectroEase electrolytes I got and deemed them delicious, to the point where she grabbed at the syringe for more, and wasn’t put off from continuing to eat her hay after dosing.

She also discovered the perk of the barn owner’s trailer: the mangers make a perfect head rest. She climbed in the trailer, placed her muzzle in the manger, and snoozed for the drive back to the barn.
And a good time was had by all horses and riders involved.

A long post with a lot to cover

As mentioned earlier, Yay, I got to ride out today!!!

Pre-trailer loading snack time

We had a really nice ride…in typical Memorial Day fashion, the weather gave us a brief reprieve…it was only in the 80s today, and just a light breeze.  Perfect riding weather.  The trails were shockingly uncrowded.  I really expected more people to be out enjoying the weather, but maybe people actually traveled out of town this weekend?

Trail buddies for the day: Kenda & Spirit (chestnut);
Chris (Barn Owner) & Tuudy (grey)

Spirit is a big, experienced goofball that walks out at 5mph (*is jealous*) so he was in the lead the whole time.  Tuudy is young and green, so we sandwiched her.  Tuudy was also testing out a pair of Mimi’s Renegades on her hind hooves…first time trail test.  Even though I was really confident in how the boots would would stay on after seeing her work in them, it gave me a chance to keep an eye on them and watch how Tuudy did in them.  

Before, bare in the rear, she was pretty tentative on downhills, weighing her front end and protecting her bare back feet.  Today, she planted those rear hooves, tucked her haunches under her, and flew down the hills.  Very cool to see such a difference.

Rear-guard pony and surprisingly happy about it today

I was really tickled with how Mimi did today.  She’s been somewhat…strong of late when we’ve gone out, giving me a bit of an attitude about slowing down, pushing her limits with the s-hack, and she was disturbingly strong against it a couple weeks ago riding around the neighborhood.

Enter remedial training:
Myler Eggbutt MB27PB

This is a Myler Eggbutt MB27PB mouthpiece.  It’s a Level 2-3 mouthpiece, I picked it up about a month ago on a crazy-good deal, and have been playing around with it in the arena ever since.  I won’t go so far as to call in a miracle bit…nothing will ever make Mimi love a bit…but she goes surprisingly well in it.  The port is low enough it doesn’t interfere with her palate, and for the first time ever, she’s actually light in the face.

The upper level bit is also making her extremely conscious of what I’m doing with my hands, and it’s forcing me to ride lighter, to rely on seat and legs first, then the bit.  Maybe there’s a correlation between my lightness and her lightness?
Whatever the case may be…I had BRAKES on the trail again today.  All it took was a couple of light finger taps on one side or the other when she’d start rushing, and she’d back off.  The real test will be speed work, but we kept it pretty much to a walk today.  (Except for a few times she snuck in a bit of a trot.)  But we did a ton of up and down hills and gullies, and she did really well.  No head tossing, no fussing, and minimal pulling weird faces when we’d stop.
Happy Pony
So now I’m convinced there is something to the Myler levels and the fact that giving an advanced horse who understands and respects cues and signals a more advanced bit is a good thing.  (Bit dealers across the country just sent up a rousing cheer…)
And then these got put to the test:

Don’t judge my bathroom unless you wanna come clean it

They’re the new Tropical Rider tights I got…”PrixTec” variety, in Mango.  They’re also the first pair of full-seat tights I’ve ever gotten or worn.  I really liked the grip and security of the full seat.  I got the microsuede patches versus deer or sheepskin…I don’t know if it makes much of a difference or not.  I wasn’t as wild about the fact that the full seat isn’t quite as cool and breathable.  But that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make if it means extra stickiness in the saddle.  But it wasn’t so sticky that I felt like it interfered with my posting or ability to get out of the saddle.  Also, the full seat means the mango color doesn’t end up giving the “pumpkin butt” effect.

Photo from barn buddy Angela who was hiking with us

As much as I love pictures, I rarely get ones of myself riding, unless it’s at an event.  Since pics are a great visual feedback of what you’re doing wrong, this is both a good and bad thing.  Looking at the above…*cringe*  

Could I be any more unbalanced?  Scrunching my left side, but weighing my right?  Wonder if that’s related to spending more time on the computer?  I don’t know what my right arm is doing, flailing off to the side like that.  I alternate between riding one-handed and two.  I know two-handed is more balanced and effective, but sometimes I like to switch it up…sometimes it’s laziness, sometimes it’s the need to fish something out of the saddle pack or grab my camera.
But riding posture aside…I love my orange tights!  And they color-coordinate nicely with all my Renegade shirts.

On Trail Again!

“…she’s probably waiting in the wings for you to come along, let her ride again…”
– “Let’s Take A Drive”, Christian Kane
Okay, so I co-opted those lyrics for something slightly different than their original intended purpose, but it actually works…can’t sum up the spirit of today’s ride much better than that.
Yes, you read that right.  After an embarrassing long hiatus in which we’ve done a few stints wandering around the neighborhood and a lot of arena circles, we got to go out on trail again today.  Mimi was soooo happy to be out again.  She does the arena thing because it’s what Good Trained Ponies do, and because it’s some form of exercise and beats sitting around the stall or pasture.  It’s not because she loves it.  But she loves trail.
It was a small group ride today — our boarding barn owner, another boarder, and one of barn owner’s friends.  One other experienced horse and two greenies.  It ended up being a really good group because the two greenies are youngsters that Mimi has been around for the past seven years, and because they’re younger and submissive to her, she considers them her “keep” and takes great care to look out for them.
She’s everyone’s favorite babysitter.

Sometimes when we’re riding in a group, I end up going to the back because Mimi hates being crowded (only to think about my own negative reactions to crowded situation with too many people…wonder where she learned it???) and we can hang back and not get too hung up in the herd.  Only problem with that is she is very competitive and doesn’t like being last.

So today we compromised.  Spent some time in the middle, some time in the back, and then some time up front…or near to it.  The front horse for the day has a ridiculously fast walk that no one can keep up with (at 15.3 hands, it’s understandable…), so keeping up with him was enough to keep Mimi from getting too hung up on the fact that she wasn’t. actually. in. front.
We went to the San Tans…our old, familiar stomping grounds that Mimi and I know probably every inch of.
Seeing this view again is like being greeted by an old friend.

And I hate to admit it, but it was probably a good thing we had two soft, out-of-shape youngsters in the group, because Mimi and I both had to dig pretty far down to find our fitness levels.  Five miles, mostly walking, with a bit of trotting (and cantering, if you’re an exuberant pony that’s stuck behind everyone and just wants to GO!!!), and we were all feeling it by the end.  Fuzzy pony was definitely sweaty (in her defense, she has 2″ of hair and it was 70*…) and I remembered some leg muscles that had been all but forgotten.

But we had So. Much. Fun!!!
Happy Pony got to Ride Again