To be honest, I was a bit leery about taking Diego over and riding with S. When we were riding several years ago, Taz was a hot blooded youngster. S has put a lot of training on him, but he's still very competitive and likes to go. One of those amazing natural athletes that trots out at 10-12-14 mph with zero effort. I knew that Taz had a lot of time off while S was pregnant and home with young boys, and wasn't exactly sure how things were going to go with a green horse (Diego) plus a hot horse (Taz). I found it a bit ironic that now *I* was the one with the young, green horse, and that Taz was being slated to act as the babysitter. Taz and Diego are exactly (almost to the day) 5 years apart (5 and 10). As it worked out, things went just fine.
I trailered over to S's house in the morning. She offered to let Diego run around in Taz's corral, since it had been a couple of weeks since he's got to stretch his legs and GO (walks around the neighborhood and lunging at home don't cut it). I told her it would probably be fine to put Taz in there as well, Dig is very submissive and the corral is sufficiently large that it shouldn't be an issue. They both had a good time and flew around. The corral is cut into a hillside, and has a pretty steep portion. Watching Diego try to negotiate that at speed revealed how young he is, he appeared to just throw his legs around everywhere, not quite sure how to collect himself up and still gallop down. Both horses are very similar in size, color, and build. It was fun watching the "twins" run around.
After blowing off some steam we saddled up. Leaving S's house, we go straight up a fairly steep and rocky hill. I hand walked Diego up the first bit past the last neighbor's house, and then got on in a somewhat flat and wide area. Did a few circles in the sagebrush, a couple of bends in each direction, check the brakes and steering and then we headed up the hill. The steep and technical footing made both horses concentrate on where they were going. Once we reached the top, we took a slightly rocky single-lane dirt road along the edge of the hillside. It was a bit dicey for a bit. Both horses were feeling good; Diego was a bit tense but was listening. I was kind of worried because if anything were to happen, we only had the width of the road to negotiate issues on. Taz was in the lead, but would periodically stop and then back up. For the most part I was able to either be far enough back that it wasn't an issue, or I could back Diego or turn him around to get out of the way. Dig wasn't quite sure what to think the first time that happened. Then, once when we started trotting, Taz put his head down and started bucking a bit. Diego did one or two bucks as well before I got his head and then jumped off and held him. S stayed on and I got back on pretty quickly.
Other than some bobbles at things, and that one instance of bucking, for the most part we just rode along at a nice walk and chatted. We came out to a small valley, and chose the much more unused road on the east side since there were people shooting off to the west. I think this was the old wagon road I've heard about in this area. We had to watch the footing on this stretch since there were periodic large holes. We ended up putting Diego in front, since he was being braver and wouldn't back up at scary looking rocks. He would give them a funny look, or stop to check them out, but for the most part went past like a pro. Just about the time I was thinking of cutting across the valley to the more well used trail on the other side, I recognized the hillside in front of us. We weren't far from an intersection in Washoe I had been telling S about, it was much closer than I had realized. We continued on, and I pointed out where the trail intersected the different directions to go to get to other trails and different types of conditioning (sand hills, rocks, the lake, etc). S hadn't ridden out this far by herself yet. We completed the turn and headed back. At one point, Taz was getting tired of all the walking so I told S to go ahead and let him run up the nice long hill in front of us. I jumped off to walk Diego, but it turns out I probably could have stayed on with no issues. I got out the carrots as she was leaving and Dig was more interested in food than his friend (he's really becoming bonded to ME, not other horses, which I love). I ended up getting back on and Dig walked very nicely to go catch up; S had turned around at the top and was walking back toward us.
Other than one other small issue with a blind corner, where no one wanted to go first
S and I are going to try to get a regular weekday evening ride planned. We both have plans to get these horses going to some rides in the fall and its fun to have my "new" old riding partner back again. =)