Thursday, September 24, 2009

Meandering Along

Yesterday, Mercy and I headed out for an early morning ride before the temperature soared too high. We saddled up quickly and headed out after tossing Star a flake of 'guilt hay.' I really wanted to go for a decently long ride to see if I would come upon any issues in our training, so we headed straight for the old train track. Mercy was poking along the whole time, which has become her new speed of choice recently, for whatever reason. We met a biker on our way up the rocky hill and since it was easier for us to move and allow the biker to continue down the hill, we moved to the side, where Mercy quickly grabbed a snack....grrrr.....

Mercy waddled down the other side of the hill as slow as she could. She has never liked going down this particular hill. I do allow her to stop and listen (for bikers and animals I suppose) so I can do the same. After making it down the hill we stopped by the road to check on the status of the 'wild' apple tree. The fruit this tree produces is super delicious, for me and the horses! Only a week or two more to go!

I was finally able to convince Mercy to continue down the trail and head up onto the train track. We always walk this stretch of the track, which is elevated on both sides, until we clear the wetland area. My plans to lope Mercy the rest of the stretch was, unfortunately, cut short when we spotted a hiker up ahead. I could have jogged her up to the person and passed easily, but I really wanted to lope the whole thing to practice focusing on me and my cues and not on what may be on the side of the trail. Hmmm....

We had closed half the distance between us and the hiker when I turned Mercy on to a side trail. Mercy was focusing way too much on the hiker and not on me, so we took this side trail and eventually looped back onto the track, giving the hiker plenty of time to move on.
We only stayed on the track for a short while, since we had missed our loping opportunity. I guided Mercy onto another trail we don't usually take, but that was no bother to her. It starts off with a pretty steep hill down into the old growth forest. I asked Mercy to jog halfway down the hill to shake things up. We continued to jog out while passing through the old growth. I tried taking pictures, but the lighting wasn't the best. And jogging and shooting isn't my specialty yet, lmao!

Taking another side trail to head back home, we finally slowed to a walk. We made it to the service rode and headed down the gravel road toward the creek. About halfway down we heard some women and a dog heading away from us. After listening to them leave, we continued down the road and into the creek. Mercy just wanted to eat the creek vegetation, so we headed out pretty quickly, but not before snapping these wet fall colors. Wish it wasn't so blurry, but that's the way it goes on an impatient appy...
Picking up an easy lope, we headed back up the service road and through the 'grassy area.' Walking through the woods and into the clear cut, we once again broke into a lope. It was so easy to sit and effortless on her part. Before heading onto our trail, I asked Mercy to walk. It took a while to slow down, but it wasn't a fight either. I think she was just that excited to lope finally! Me too!
When we reached our property, I let her eat a few mouthfuls of grass while I observed Star in her paddock. She called out a few times, but as soon as she stood still and settled, I urged Mercy home. I try to reward Star's calmness by moving closer to her (with Mercy, of course) and it seems to be paying off. I think Star if finally starting to realize that I am not taking Mercy from her forever. We will return. I promise.

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