Today my daughter and I took George and Rose out for a wee trail ride.
I wonder what they think of it all. George came over enthusiastically when he saw us arriving with the tack, and Rose came right up for her halter to be put on.
However, when my daughter went to mount, George was not all that keen. She is adamant about using the bridle, although if I got her a pretty bitless one (such as this), she might feel differently. When my niece rode him, swapping the bridle for a halter and two ropes seemed to be the key to happiness.
I don't blame my daughter for not liking the halter/rope arrangement, as I experienced it myself today. Rose was fine with her saddle going on, but when it came time to offer the bridle, she turned away two or three times. So ... no bridle ... I put the halter back on, with two very cumbersome and unwieldy ropes clipped to each side.
Rose is just green-broke and really has no idea about anything. She is very calm, though, and I don't know if our experience the other day, when we let her turn for home, gave her more confidence, but today she showed no interest in an early retreat, and in fact she was all for going off in some new direction at the point where we were turning back. She whinnied once or twice to Bridget and Chloe, who were having nervous breakdowns back in the pasture, but remained uninterested in a shortcut home.
When we started out, her ears were straight ahead. About half-way around, one ear started coming back to me, and then towards the end of the ride, both ears were pointed backwards.
When we go out for a ride, it may be pleasant for the horses, but at this stage it's all a bit vague and woolly. I think we need a "picadero" to work in - somewhere we can invite the horses to work, where it's clear that that's what the purpose is, and where we can spend time figuring out what we mean, an area which delineates a space/time where certain goals are considered. Spilker says that none of her horses ever leave manure in the arena - they consider that space to be important and special.
Out with Rose today, I could feel at times the engagement of her hind legs. Sometimes it even seemed like I could encourage it. I would like to be able to consciously work on things like that in a safe, designated area. Previously, in the old days, I could insist on a certain working attitude out on the trail. I am reluctant to insist on anything much these days, especially out on an excursion that's supposed to be fun for all of us. A picadero would be a place where the expectation was pre-set, where the horse would be free to enter or not, depending on its desire to "work" that day. If the horse chose to enter, it would know what it was choosing.
I guess what the horses thought of our ride will be revealed by their attitude next time we appear with tack and invite them to join us!
We are testing our soil to see how much lime it needs, prior to re-seeding. Here's George helping out with the soil sampling ...