This weekend has been a great one. On Saturday I took Dandy to his second ever hunter jumper show and while we didn’t do a single class (they didn’t have the cross rail hunter class) I feel like it was more successful than his first. More on that later, however, because I want to show off my pony’s awesome trail skills.
Dandy pretty much rocks on trails.
Because it was going to be 100⁰ F outside, LG suggested we take the horses up to Washoe Lake St. Park. I was super excited to take Dandy on his first trail. I suspected, based on how he acted the first ten minutes at the show yesterday, that it wasn’t so much being at a new place that had set Dandy’s nerves on end but all the commotion. Sure enough, Dandy was an angel when I tacked him up and mounted. We trotted around the trailering area while we waited for LG and Eric to get their horses ready and then we headed out.
I love having a horse that is brave and not heard bound. We walked down the beach trail on the buckle and leading. I led him on and off the trail, through the sage brush, and up and down sand dunes. Though Dandy was alert and looking around, he was clearly having a blast.
When we first came out onto the beach, I asked Dandy to go in the water. At that point, he was so surprised that there could be this much water that he was a little scared. Instead we decided to walk along the edge and I do mean the edge. I felt like we were on a balance beam we were that close.
Eventually we came to a stretch of sand that was super flat and wide enough that I just HAD to try out my OTTB’s gallop. When we were going away from his friends, Dandy was hesitant, all over the place, and I only got him into a hand gallop but the turnaround… we FLEW. It was awesome. Eventually, we’re going to have to back so that Eric can not only try it himself, but take video of it.
I’m sure if we did a gallop in the sand every week, Dandy would be fit in no time.
I’m also of the opinion now that Dandy wasn’t so much slow, he just didn’t really care to win any races. That or six furlongs were just not enough.
After the gallop came the other best part of the ride: the lake.
As if he had forgotten how scared he was of the vastness only an hour ago, this time Dandy didn’t even hesitate before plowing into the water. Maybe it was because he was hot and tired after his gallop, but I think it’s because ever since I almost drowned him, he’s realized that water is pretty much his favorite thing. With Dandy’s assurance that the water was okay, both Zircon (who LG was riding) and William (Eric’s mount) followed in after us despite their initial mistrust of the water.
With Dandy being so willing, I decided that I better take off my saddle and breeches so I could really enjoy the water. It’s too bad really that there’s no video of Eric and I shedding our clothes while still on our horses, it’s sort of amazing. Luckily we managed. I don’t know how we would have gotten back on our 17 and 16.2 thoroughbreds!
We spent at least a half hour in the lake with the horses going deeper and deeper. Not once did Dandy hesitate or freak out. There was one time that he decided he wanted to canter but it didn’t work very well considering the water was already half way up his shoulder. This lake has a super gradual slope so it’s great for teaching horses to be okay in the water. LG and I had to go out about 100 yards before Dandy and Zircon were swimming with the fishes… one actually leaped up in between us.
Eventually all good things must come to an end, even my brave thoroughbred’s patience. After getting the saddle back on, Dandy decided that it was enough. He’s like the little kid who is kept up through his nap; it was all just too much. Back up the beach we went, this time Dandy prancing and having nothing to do with listening to me. So back into the water we went! If he wanted to be a brat, he was going to have to work for it.
All in all, it was a fantastic day! I need to get my trailer just so I can do that every weekend.