Friday, I made plans with one of my friends to go riding. We originally agreed to meet at a local arena and ride around there. I dug out my copy of 101 Arena Exercises and even dog-eared a few that I had plans to work on. Then, I actually GOT to the arena - or where the arena had been. Now there was a lovely fenced in pond. How quaint.
Once he realized the Horseness Monster was not going to swim out of the murky depths, he had fun running around the arena. He looked like one of those calendar shoots with the water flying as the horse majestically gallops down the beach, except there was no beach and he's a hairy dirty furball right now. Sarah showed up after a few minutes and turned her two horses that she had brought out as well. They had fun running around together and Diego made us laugh by doing mare squeals when Dandy tried to sniff his arm pit. Sarah and I discussed our riding options, the arena wasn't slippery at all - just really wet, and decided to go ahead and trailer out to Washoe Lake to ride down the beach instead. After a few minutes of wrangling, we were able to catch all three - but not before Diego decided he was **HOT** and rolled in the water/sand/mud combo. GREAT! At least he only got one side before frantic screaming mother chased him up.
So we trailered out to Washoe, which Diego has been to only once before. Thankfully he somewhat dried in the trailer on the way over there and I was able to curry and brush most of the sand off. Saddled up and then decided to go ahead and mount up in the parking lot right away without doing any lunging or hand-walking first, since he had already had the chance to run around. He was actually pretty good, much more scooty than normal, but listening for the most part. My problem was that I was mounted a bit before Sarah was ready to go (she was riding one and ponying the other), and Diego go impatient while waiting. As I could feel his tension start building, I decided to go ahead and get off and walk him to the beach instead. I'm glad I did, because Sarah got to the beach first - to discover a loose dog that tried to jump up on her ponied horse. That potentially would have been a VERY bad situation on Diego, who doesn't like dogs as it is.
The loose dog was leashed by the time I got to the beach and I walked Diego down the beach for a while. Eventually I went ahead and got on and we had a pretty good ride. He tucked his butt and scooted forward several different times, and never really relaxed. He also pretty much refused to go in front at all. I kept him over in the deep sand for the most part and we would just walk along and then trot a short bit to catch up with Sarah's super fast walking gaited horses. Dig was too anxious to really walk out at all. He did do well with the few obstacles we encountered, such as some drift-branches, taller grasses, and some flying birds. He would give them the "helicopter ear" by tipping his ear out parallel to the ground as we rode by, but other than that didn't seem overly concerned. He just didn't **feel** as nice and relaxed as he has the past few rides.
Once we turned around and headed back, we had a bit of a funny incident when my cell phone rang. It was strapped to my ankle and Diego kept trying to turn to see "what was making that noise?!?" Except the noise would then turn and still be behind him. I got him to settle and then hopped off to return the call - no point in trying to kill myself by talking on the phone while riding my green horse. Sarah got a way ahead while I was talking, and I briefly debated about mounting up and trying to catch up, but thoughts of Diego bolting off with me hanging off the side nixed that idea.
The other new thing that Diego got to experience was being ridden in the rain. It sprinkled a bit on the way down the beach, and then started to rain harder on us as we were nearly back. Mr. I Love My Barn And Don't Do Wet was not overly thrilled to say the least. He had his head tucked and his ears back in displeasure. Poor baby. =) I dismounted again as we started to get back to the trailers (not really sure why in hindsight), but it was good practice as I let Sarah get ahead and out of sight, and then took a slightly different way back. It was good for Diego to realize that he was out there with ME, not with THEM, and that he still needed to be paying attention to me and my demands. We had a lesson in remembering not to run over Mom and stop when she stops while jogging on the sandy single-track back to the trailer.
Overall, it was a good ride and a good day. Just not as excellent as the past few rides have been. I was surprise at how much more buddied-up Diego was with Sarah's horses compared to when riding with Funder. He also was more spooky and tense than normal, but like I told hubby when I got home, it was also a good lesson for me in realizing that I CAN cope with that behavior and he didn't ever get worse. Writing this has also helped put the day into perspective. Overall, a success.