On the trail with Ketah
While Ketah is not the most patient horse to pony Sati with, she is a very experience trail horse and there is almost no obstacle she can't or won't handle with no fuss -- mud is her only exception, which is unfortunate here. So each time we take Sati with us I make sure she has to deal with some new obstacle. Navigating around large logs, going down and up hills, through mud (she does better than Ketah at this) over branches and past noisy waterfalls. She has handled everything very well. It's clear that she likes to think her way through a problem rather than rush it (Ketah) or run away from it. If Ketah gives her the time she not only manages every obstacle, she is also very careful how she places her feet.
Thus far her speediness and habit of falling in the arena has not translated to the trail.
Water crossingOne of the many obstacles a horse must learn to deal with in the Northwest is water. Not just puddles, but rivers, lakes and the ocean. After all, this has to be the coolest part of living near the ocean:
Figure 1: North Cannon Beach on the Oregon coast. There is a lot of horseback riding to be done on the Oregon coast. There are B&B's where you can take your horse and sleep in comfort then go for gorgeous rides like this!
A couple weeks ago I decided it was time to introduce her to our local creek. It's just wide enough that a horse can't jump it, can be up to their knees and is fairly fast moving. To get to it you have to go down a small hill and to get out you have to go up a steep hill. Ketah has no problem with water (anymore) so she hopped right in, and being her usual impatient self, argued with me about waiting for the baby. I won and I let Sati sniff her way down to the creek.
Like most horses when face with a water crossing she was clearly nervous about getting near it. But when Sati is permitted to drop her head and sniff things she's much more willing to get close to them so I just waited. When she seemed to have sniffed enough I asked Ketah to move on a few more steps. Sati looked at the water very hard (it might eat her) then plunged right in! Not only did she plunge in, she put her entire muzzle (past her nostrils) under water and started playing! She did this several times before I led her across. When I asked her to cross it again she did the same thing. I nearly fell out of my saddle laughing. Ketah plays in the water by pawing it, which can also be a signal that she wants to roll, and sometimes will splash with her muzzle but she has never put her entire muzzle under water! In fact I have never seen any other horse I've ridden with do this, though I'm sure there are others.
I can't wait to see if she does it the next time.
On her ownAttached as Sati is to Ketah, and as horses are social creatures by nature, it is very important that I start getting her used to the idea of going out alone now. Since she can't yet be ridden we go for walks through the neighborhood.
On this note there isn't much to say. Sati doesn't care that she is leaving Ketah behind so far. She gets excited by horses on the other side of a fence right next to her, and we have to discuss proper behavior under the circumstances (this includes not rushing ahead, stepping on me, jumping into my space or running circles around me). But she mostly doesn't care about vehicles now, though it will be some time before I feel comfortable asking her to continue walking while they pass her. She is just a baby and unpredictable still.
Once we get out to the trailhead where there are no other horses as distractions, she settles right in to paying attention to where she puts her feet, how to get around obstacles and me. In fact, she seems to enjoy this so much that when I invite her to graze in a field just past the trailhead she isn't interested for several minutes. She isnt' nervous, just too busy looking around.
Final notesIt's probably good I don't have a saddle for her yet. Every opportunity, whether at the barn or on the trail (without Ketah) I work on getting Sati used to the idea of a person above her and weight on her back. Since there is no saddle I ask her to stand still while I lay across her back from either side and rub her all over. The first few times she a little nervous. She would walk a few steps away from the mounting block or log. I would just lead her back and do it again, asking her to stand while I did so. Now, most of the time, she just stands and mostly ignores me.
I think we will start arena work by the end of this summer. I need a saddle, but that's a topic for a whole other post!