I walked the horses out to the back gate that leads off of the property and onto the trails. I think both horses were super excited to get out of their stalls/paddocks because both were standing perfectly still without grazing while I got the gate opened.We decided to go up past the lake to the 'upper forested area' for just a short looper. Usually we lope up the main road trail, but I wanted the horses to really work their backs and legs since the ride was going to be short. Star really wanted to go and Mercy forgot how to stay back behind my leg, but soon enough we got it worked out. It's kinds funny that even when we are on the service road, Mercy prefers to walk right behind Star. All that space and she likes it back there. Fine, it's less work for me but it's also less stimulation for her. Oh well...We rode the short loop and headed down the hill to return home. They were behaving really good (there actually was a moment with Star, who forgot she could stop when I said 'whoa,' but all was forgotten) so we stopped at 'the' grassy spot for a snack. The winter here has been pretty hard, so much of the grass has already been eaten by deer, but they still find some good spots.
When we started heading home, it began to rain, so I picked up the pace to a good trot (lope for Star). Mercy has a HUGE problem of crowding the horse in front of her when she's the last in line and moving out. I needed to work on this so I basically gave Star her head and trusted that she would move straight down the trail (she definitely knows the way home!) so that I could turn around in the saddle the best I could. When Mercy got too close to Star, I would shake the lead back at her to get her to slow down or move away. It only took a couple of tries before she got the hint and stayed back. I turned back around and slowed Star to a walk as a reward. We continued to walk the rest of the way home.
After unsaddling Star and putting the horses back in their stalls/paddocks, I gave them a snack (plus a kiss). Even though it was a short ride, it was full of learning opportunities and experiences for both of my Appy girls. :)