Wow!!! I cannot believe that it has been since my birthday in the middle of November since Diego and I have been out! As things happen, we had a bunch of winter weather come in for the end of November and most of December. Then with all the holidays, shopping, being out of town, etc. time just flew by! I didn't think to move the trailer down from its regular parking spot next to the barn before the weather hit, so had to wait for most of the ice/snow to disappear, and the mud to freeze, before I could move it down onto the gravel portion of the driveway. This means I now have to back it around the 90-degree curve from the street into the driveway, and up our funky S-shaped driveway, onto the ledge, avoiding my husband's work truck, whenever I get back from a ride - but it's worth it in order to get the trailer out in the winter without turning the concrete drive into a mud bog from all the mess up near the barn.
This Sunday, the Reno Blogging Buddies, Zach, Funder and I all got together and rode out from the Lemmon Valley arena. Last weekend (1/2), I was having some personal clumsy spells, including falling while ice skating, and then falling while coming down the stairs in the garage, so I just took Diego over to a local arena to run around and stretch his legs on his own. Knowing that I haven't ridden in.... um.... 7 WEEKS, I decided to get over to Lemmon Valley a bit early and let Diego run around over there before tacking up. Instead, the arena was frozen and a bit slick, so Dig just kind of half-heartedly trotted around. While I was tacking up, a bunch of kids came over and started playing basketball in the court, which is behind a screen of trees so Dig could hear but not really SEE them. This lead to some additional excitement and I ended up hand-walking him for a bit when we all finally set off down the trail.
After walking for about a mile or so, I mounted up. I'll give him a bit of the benefit here, since it had been a while, but he always acts like he's never been ridden before for the first few minutes. All tense and tight. Did some circles around in the sage and then I (begged) asked that we head up the nearest big hill. The horses all settled in pretty well while working up the hill. On the way down back to the valley, we saw a DEAD BODY!!! Laying right next to the trail! It was very disconcerting to ride up to a severed torso, arms splayed wide, with the legs dangling off into the trail. We were all a bit freaked out, understandably, until it was discovered to be a scarecrow-alike "dummy" that some people had created and used for target practice. Gah! Talk about random exposure training. Thankfully all the horses did quite well, other than giving the "body" a fairly wide berth.
Once back down onto the flats, all the horses rediscovered their "go" gear. I ended up taking Dig off the side of the trail and trotting weaving in and out of the sagebrush while Zach and Funder stayed on the parallel trail. It was great to help refocus his mind on ME while still giving him the chance to go forward without getting too crazy about it. We had a couple small temper tantrums, which pretty much were just hopping and a bit of head flinging. Once we looped back onto the more main roads, we had to alternate walking with trotting due to the mud and ice that was still in abundance.
Overall, we did about 9 miles in 2 hours or so. A pretty slow ride but most of the walking was all necessary either due to being fresh or the footing. It was a nice start to the year and hopefully the weather will cooperate so we can get back into the swing of things.