Well Friday's excursion with Diego went extremely well, even if it was not according to my original plans. The original plan was for me to take Dig over to friends Bob and Dovie's house and ride Diego in their round pen and around their fenced in back yard. If everything was going well, then Dovie was going to take their kid-proof pony and go out with us on an easy little trail ride. This was to be the first time I had ridden Diego off the property since April, so I was a little bit nervous about how things would go.
As it worked out, I got Diego over there and he was being really good. Got saddled and he was pretty much ignoring Bob and Dovie's 4 mares that were checking out the new guy. I took Diego into the round pen and did some ground work with him. When we were both feeling relaxed, I went ahead and mounted up. Things were going okay until I asked Dig to walk around. I could feel him getting tense, which in turn made me tense, so we stopped and both tried to relax again. After a little bit, I again asked him to walk. He would walk a few steps and then swing his hind end around (pivot on his front legs) and then stop. After nagging at him a few times, he kind of tucked his butt, scooted forward and gave a little hop. I was still on top and doing okay, but I got off and decided to re-evaluate and maybe do some more ground work first.
This is when an extremely good thing happened, Bob volunteered to ride Diego for me. He could tell that I was feeling pretty uptight, not a good thing for either Dig nor I, and he's started a couple of young horses for him and Dovie in the past. So we pulled my saddle, since Bob's legs are much longer and I can't adjust the stirrups down that far, and he hopped on bareback. Bob rides bareback **A LOT**, like more often than not, and had put the first few rides on a couple of horses bareback.
So Bob mounted up and I lead Diego around the round pen for a few minutes. Dig was pretty sticky to start, it was a probably a good thing to just lead him around for a while. It gave everyone a chance to relax and get the feel of each other. Eventually, Bob started taking more and more control and, when he was ready, I unclipped the lead and he rode Diego around on his own.
Getting a feel for each other
Getting a feel for each other
Bob was very happy with how responsive Diego was to his sidepull. Bob normally trains with a snaffle, and other than a few bridle-less rides, this was the first time he had ridden a young horse without a bit. Diego actually is very happy in his sidepull and is very light and responsive. I received a few compliments on how quickly he would stop and how he didn't pull on the reins at all, instead yielding softly.
Soon things were going well enough that we opened up the gate and Bob rode Diego around their back yard. Dovie hopped up on the pony and rode around with him. Dig did very well, checking out the new environment and even leading the way around and behind their long shedrow barn. You could see his relax and start to get comfortable with being ridden again. Bob even did some trotting with him, a few steps here and there. He was very happy with how smooth Diego was.
After a while longer, Bob, Dovie, and another friend Tammy decided to go ahead and go out on a little trail ride. This was the largest "group" Diego has been out on the trail with. We've ridden with two other horses in the arena, but not out and about. This was also his *THIRD* trail ride ever. He did extremely well and I was a very proud mama. I followed along and took some pictures. Here they are riding past the neighbor's house to the little open area (single and two-track through sagebrush) where they ended up riding.
Diego actually lead the pack for most of the way. Bob complimented him on having a nice, mostly relaxed, forward walk. He wasn't overly balky and didn't want to rush. When he would get nervous, his tendency was to tuck is butt and scoot forward a few steps, then turn to look at what startled him (Diego that is, not Bob). They successfully trotted for a short distance out on the trail, were passed by, and then re-passed the other horses.