Diego went for his first trail ride today and it was wonderful, fabulous, super awesome good! He's such a superstar!!! =) We went with friend Beth Kauffman and her horse Sutter, and just went on a nice long walking ride all over Beth's property in Washoe Valley (they have quite a bit!). He's not **that** super far along in his training (i.e. we've only trotted under saddle about 5 times in total), but I felt like my turning and brakes were in well enough working order to give it a go. He does have a very nice one-rein stop, and a good regular stop, so I felt that we should probably be okay as long as his brain was in good working order, which it was. At this point, I'm still riding 100% in my rope halter side-pull. He's only worn the snaffle bit twice in the corral at home, with no reins or pressure involved at all at this point.
Diego was very happy to sight-see along, he looked really relaxed and happy. He feels very solid, not wobbly or like he's still trying to balance. He's still getting the hang of "where should I put my feet" and would step on rocks and kind of shift his weight (leaving him barefoot will help with this) and he doesn't yet walk along as quickly under me as he does while not being ridden, but over all he's very solid feeling. We went through sagebrush, over rocks, and up and down a few small little ditch-type things. He was FABULOUS!
Only one little spook when two dogs ran up barking and hit their fence, he just scooted forward about three steps and then turned around to see what the heck it was. We sat for a moment and then rode off, Diego walked down about 50 feet and then wanted to turn around and go BACK to where the dogs were. I don't know why, but he was really intent on going back that way instead of forward toward the house/horse trailer (which he couldn't see) so that was the only little argument we had, that "No, you cannot go back toward the barking dogs." He's very much a sight-seer and was more likely to see something and then want to go over there to "check it out" than he was to see something and want to get away from it. A big plus.
He did NOT spook at the rabbits rushing out (although **I** did), the covey of quail that took off flying nearby, the black truck bed liner, the piece of shiny aluminum something, the tumbleweed that was so big it almost touched my stirrup that we had to walk right past, the teal truck bed, etc. etc. He didn't care at all when Beth and Sutter would get a ways ahead (she was super nice and would always stop and wait without my having to say anything), he just went along looking and checking stuff out. We did try to cross one loose soft ditch by their driveway rather than go down further and have to go across the culvert. Poor Diggy just couldn't quite figure it out - I don't know why that one was different than the others, perhaps because the footing was more soft and squishy, or perhaps because the fence was just on the other side? As we were on the blacktop road (not slippery thankfully), I didn't want to mess with him overly much and have an argument. Plus Beth said he looked like he might have been contemplating jumping across, not something we needed to be doing. =) Beth came back across and we went down and went over the culvert, which turned out to be a total non issue.
YAY!!! I have total perma-grin now and probably will all weekend. =))) He's really coming along great and I couldn't be happier with how he's been doing lately.