Since Shiloh got “unstitched” at the vet’s office, the horses and I have taken two little field trips, one to a local training/boarding barn and one to a private facility.
We were experiencing an unusually pleasant stretch of weather (meaning not too hot or too humid), and I wanted to take advantage. Our first trip, to the local training barn, went smoothly. I got to ride on one of the outdoor tracks and enjoyed experiencing a nice quiet stroll on Shiloh while Bear enjoyed sampling some new grass in the roundpen which stands in the middle of their two outdoor tracks. We had ridden at this same barn once last year, but only in their indoor arena, so riding outside was a new experience. Shiloh was very sensible and packed me around without issue.
Bear seemed to handle the trip well (as far as not looking sore during travel, after travel or the next day) as did Shiloh so I was excited to plan field trip number two. This time it would be a visit to my friend’s private horse facility. I’ve had Shiloh almost two years now, but I have yet to ride him with another horse as we typically do all our riding at home alone. I was looking forward to riding with my experienced friend and her quiet gelding on a lovely early Summer day.
But Bear and Shiloh seemed to have other plans which included being slow to load (I was half an hour late to arrive) and acting emotionally unhinged at this “new” location pretty much from the second they got off the trailer. I say “new” because although the location was new to Shiloh, Bear had visited this place with me quite a bit in his past life as a riding horse.
Whatever the reason, both horses were uncharacteristically nervous that day, and I decided this would not be a day to try to ride. So basically they got hand-jigged with the help of my sainted friend (I’d say hand-walked, but considering how jazzed both horses were, hand-jigged seems more accurate), got to roll in the lovely sand arena, pose for a few photos and then go home.
Fortunately, no humans or animals were physically harmed during the adventure. Can’t say the same for the unfortunate fence board that was the recipient of a double-barreled kick from Bear. I was preparing to open a gate to take Bear out of the arena and didn’t notice that a resident horse in a pasture next to the arena had come up behind Bear on the other side of the fence. Bear apparently took offense, released a loud squeal and let loose with the hind-legs. My horses went home with their frazzled owner with one eye-lid twitching involuntarily all the way back.
Disappointing, for sure, but it is not the first time I have taken a horse somewhere and had to scrap/change plans when I didn’t feel confident I would survive the originally planned activity. Bear, who I watch carefully for evidence of lameness due to his health history, seemed to show no bad signs post-visit, not even the next day despite all the antics. Someone needs to remind him that he recently turned twenty-five.
Since then, I’ve had a couple of rides at home on Shiloh and am now bracing for a period of high heat and humidity where trailering anywhere seems unappealing. Hoping I can plan for another visit somewhere soon once the heat wave passes as we all clearly need more practice with consistency in the “trailer loading and going new places” department.
Both Bear and Shiloh have actually done plenty of traveling, but both have had long breaks from traveling in recent years for different reasons. Like any other aspect of training, horses (and their people) can get rusty in those areas. Helping horses feel safe and secure when things go sideways has often been a challenge for me. But the times I have been successful in developing confidence in myself and my horses keep me coming back for more. Those times give me hope for the future on the days when I just can’t get it right and, to loosely quote author Louis L’ amour, end up with more tales of travail than travel.