Today my husband and I went out for our weekly trail ride. Gone are the days when we would be able to ride horses on the road without a car in sight.
Today we took a new route and it was every two minutes that we were passed by a car or a motorcycle. Not only that, but the fields that we could walk through are now housing developments. We got barked at by a pit bull, which wasn't a problem. Even with the tractor trailers flying down the highway the horses didn't flinch. We were in a field, not actually riding down that highway, but only about 20 feet away from the tractor trailers. Do you know what scared the horses? No, not the Harley Davidson's... It was the ponies!
Two sweet little ponies in a field, and the horses were balking and snorting. I am always sacking out the horses exposing them to every possible distraction. They don't mind cows, deer have jumped out in front of us on the trail, and not a horse batted an eye. We cross running water, and pass by active construction sites and no hesitation from any of the horses. When you are teaching beginners it is best to bombproof your horse, so I am always finding new ways to sack out the horses.
Banging on the metal in the indoor arena while longeing is one of my favorite tests to see how relaxed the horse is. If he doesn't pay attention to the huge noises I figure he will be quiet if a truck pulls up to the barn. Today was extremely windy and the coldest day we've had all summer so I am sure that had a lot to do with those ponies looking like goblins. I didn't expect them to be so scary. I just found my new challenge for the lesson horses, pony exposure!
It's good to get out of your comfort zone and enjoy the fall with some trail rides. It's relaxation, and you are still training. If you regularly ride on trial rides, find some new scenery. When you take a horse out on a trail ride it's a good way to make him feel like a horse. When they get out in an open field, I think you can see the horses smile. Keeping them inside going in circles all the time I can't imagine the heart of the horse is completely content. Don't get me wrong, I know they love their work, and I love to work in an arena. But they (and us) sometimes need to get out and walk straight lines, cover some ground, see new sights. Then the arena work will be fresh again. In the process of leaving the barn and enjoying the countryside you will surely learn something new about your horse, even if it's just that they are afraid of tiny little ponies.