I chose not to take any photos on the trail so I could pay my best attention to Shiloh on our first jaunt. But here is a shot I took as we rendezvoused in a clearing. Look at all those lovely woods we got to enjoy!
There’s nothing like experiencing nature from the back of a horse. I used to take my horses, Bear and Spice, out on the trails regularly. Then Spice died and Bear began experiencing a series of health problems that led to his retirement from riding. The last time I had taken my own horses trail riding was in Colorado in 2015.
Since returning to live in the Mid-West, I had only kept two horses at home. At first, it was Bear and a series of individual foster horses from a local rescue. Then it was Bear and Shiloh. While I did periodically practice taking the horses out to local venues, I noticed that they became increasingly buddy sour while traveling. Not being a horse whisperer, I started to feel like I was getting in over my head and perhaps creating problems that I could not solve.
Now that I have a third horse (Piper) to keep Bear in company at home, I figured it was high time to give trail riding another go. Just as I have ridden trails before, Shiloh had also traversed trails in his previous life. But in almost four years together, we had yet to go on a trail ride as a team.
I felt like we were ready, but at the same time, I’m not often flush with confidence when it comes to horses. I usually have some sort of nagging doubt about my ability to do what I want to do with them. Even so, the desire to trail ride remains.
Recently, a friend with a lovely private trail system behind her barn invited me to join her and another friend for a practice ride. We kept it short and sweet and it went really well.
Shiloh seemed content in the company of the other two horses. He strode out nicely on the trails. Shiloh led some. Shiloh followed some. He didn’t display any funny business.
Shiloh was alert in a new environment yet felt relaxed enough underneath me to make me think that he enjoyed the experience. While I am accustomed to horses picking up on my own nerves, this was one of those cases where I felt more nervous than the horse- ha!
We didn’t tackle any of my friend’s trickier trail paths, but her undulating terrain allowed me to see that Shiloh can go up and down little inclines without issue. My ground is so flat at home and in the local arenas we’ve ridden that this was my first experience in seeing how Shiloh handles little hills.
Of course, we’ve got some things to work on. Like keeping adequate distance from the other horses (seemed like we were either too far in front or running up on someone’s behind). And his snack grabbing while going under low-hanging branches was annoying. He doesn’t exactly jump right in the trailer either (coming or going).
But the fact that Shiloh wasn’t a loon out on the trails made me very happy! Yah! Perhaps more importantly, Shiloh came back home sound and in a good mood. Hopefully he’ll be game to try it again.
Thank you so much to my friends and their horses for providing a supportive environment. Great company for Shiloh and me on our first official trail outing together!