Monday, October 7, 2013

It's Trailventure Time

After two whole months of being off the track, I finally got a group set up to take Courage out into the hills for the first time. I've been really picky about it, because I want his first few excursions to be very positive. Someday, I want him to be a bomb-diggity trail master like Cuna.

WHERE IS THE ARENA?
We pulled into the trail head and unloaded.Courage did his go-to naughty evasion in new places.

He put his head straight up in the air.

That's it.

There were a bunch of other people around, and they all admired him and gave him cookies.

He wasn't sure what he was here to be the best at, but he was going to figure it out.







The OTAB - she came off the track about when C-rage did
We headed through the gate to keep the seasonal grazing herds in and then I climbed on at a cinderblock. I was glad we discussed standing to be mounted earlier in the week--he stood like a statue and just had a look around.

Our group of four naturally divided into two groups--we had the endurance arabs in one group and Courage and his new girlfriend in the other.



Up the hill
Redheadlins rode one of the Arabs and took some pictures for us. That's Courage and Aspen way out in front.

He felt amazing, still developing post-body work. I was completely in awe as he dropped his head and moved through his whole body. 














Bay ears
I wasn't sure what to expect on his first time out. I don't think it's fair to expect him to be perfect for everything all the time. That said, within about 5 minutes of starting the ride, I pulled out my phone and nabbed an ears shot.

He was fascinated by the world around him. This is a landscape he's never been in before. Given his problems with terrain in the past, I was expecting him to be at least a little silly about the hills, the varied footing, and the strange creatures.


On top of the world
He wasn't. He led the way and powered up the first big hill. The riders behind us were impressed by how well he used himself and his steady, ground-covering stride. I was loving every minute balanced over him.

I think it's so important to make the first ides be slow, easy, and non-exciting but OMG HE'S GOING TO BE FUN TO GALLOP.



We posed for pictures at the top of the ridge. It was the only minor snafu of the ride--Couage was enjoying himself so much that he didn't really want to stand still. He did, but if you're a horse that loves to look around, having the whole world at your feet is a pretty amazing experience.

I was pretty much just grinning like an idiot and pestering my fellow riders about how amazing he was being. I couldn't even believe it.

Of course, the big test was coming up. 







Downhill.

This is what he's had problems with before. At our cross country clinic, it took a good five minutes to figure out how to walk through a dip, after the experienced horses demonstrated how to do it. We don't have good hills to practice on at home, so he hasn't really seen anything like it.

So he marched off.

I had to laugh as I felt him survey the challenge, then shift his weight back and power down the hill without so much as a trip. It was like he'd been doing it his whole life.

We waited for the arabs to catch up, then went down an even steeper portion.

Love these hills
Courage led. Courage followed. Courage walked beside his friend. He let the horses behind catch up. He walked at the back. He went happily wherever I put him without throwing a fuss. Towards the end of the ride, we had to cross through a wash that was basically the grandaddy version of the dip that befuddled him on cross country.

I let his trail buddy go through first, then had him follow her. He walked politely down in, then powered out the other side in perfect balance without even a hint of a hesitation.

The trail master
We met a man with a large loose dog, and Courage didn't even flick an ear. When I hopped off at the trailhead, I had this ridiculous perma-grin slapped on my face.

I know he's been awesome about everything, but I can't even believe how good he was. He took to it like he'd done it all his life. I was expecting him to at least fuss about some things, but he took every challenge in stride and was looking for more when we got back.

He loved every minute as much as I did.








He is the best at coolers
The sun was quickly dropping below the horizon, so I pulled out a fleece cooler and threw it on him. As we picked up our stuff and loaded the horses, I was just blown away.

I told redheadlins to find me baby Cuna.

I hadn't actually expected her to do it.











Even on Saturday, when Courage took a well-deserved day off, he came up and visited with me while I scrubbed out water tanks. He was filthy and happy and wanted some scratches.










Courage and I are still a new partnership. I know better than to impose a preset idea of what I want him to be on top of who he already is, but the truth is that the more I get to know this little horse, the more I realize I'm lucky to have him in my life. He is so kind and enthusiastic about about life. He loves his new life and he is fun to be around.

He is the perfect horse to carry on the legacy that Cuna started in my life.







22 comments:

  1. And he has a seriously sexy butt while going up hill, what a champ...can't wait to take Diva!

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  2. Wow, that sounds like a blast! Those look like some pretty awesome hills to work out on!

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  3. That's fantastic! So happy for you both!

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  4. I love this -- I was pretty worried that no horse would ever be able to measure up to my Cuna (Visa), and while Miles is certainly very different and will never replace Visa, he is a great match for me, and I'm loving every minute!

    So glad you've found something similar in Courage :-)

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  5. Nothing better than a good brain in one cute as hell horse!

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  6. You really got an excellent horse. You are very lucky :)

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  7. What a fun ride! Courage is such a good horse! :)

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  8. I love this. Makes my heart happy. Really excited for you. He's such a cutie pie.

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  9. Really sounds amazing. I love a good trail ride and a horse with a good trail brain!

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  10. What a great first ride out. I think horses off the track have had a lot of experience with all kinds of strange things and probably are better at accepting new places. Courage certainly is living up to his name.

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  11. That is awesome! So happy for you and Courage. Like my B, he's got big shoes to fill and I think he'll surprise you over and over again. Looks great!

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  12. What a great ride! I'm so thrilled your partnership is working out so well.

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  13. So cute!! I just love him to pieces.. you are very lucky indeed!

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  14. Awesome success! Another reason OTTBs are great, they see so much at a young age that little phases them (most of them). Looks like you have a trail master in the making.

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  15. He might just be the best OTTB ever, like seriously :-)

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  16. He is so fantastic! And I just can't get over how gorgeous his head is!!

    Also, what does OTAB stand for? Or was it supposed to be OTTB?

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