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May 18, 2015: Happy Trails

Another beautiful day. Absolutely perfect weather – it could not have been better – temperatures in the high 60s, low 70s, sunny skies, a slight breeze – just enough to keep the bugs from making pests of themselves.

The plan (and we kept to it) was to meet up with Claudia and Frank Sihler and go for a trail ride at Matanuska Lake. As planned, Pete and I rolled out of here shortly after 10:30 a.m. And once again, we had to deal with road construction delays (grr, grr, grr). This was why we got off to a later than expected start.

We rode the Mat Lake trail several times last year, so I have a basis for comparison in terms of my and Raudi’s respective abilities. As in the past, Raudi left the parking area feeling good. And as before, I was a bit nervous, but less so than last year. In the past, I’d put her behind other horses, so that she’d go more slowly. This time, I put her right out front, where she immediately began setting a comfortable group pace.

Our lunchtime destination was the Crevasse Moraine Trailhead, which was approximately five miles distant from our starting point. For the most part, Raudi walked in an energetic fashion, and when asked, trotted up the roller coaster hills then walked down them. She didn’t bolt, or even consider it. This is because I again put Centered Riding training theory to practice. I have finally figured out that what needs doing is far easier than it seems. (After all, I’m Alys, take the harder route, Culhane). I thought, going downhill, use soft eyes, belly breath, be like a spruce tree and grow up and down, envision the ground rising to touch my feet and my feet rising to touch the ground. Also, I drop a ball down in my pelvic bowl, and tip it back in order to be in neutral pelvis. I also practiced riding with relaxed arms and shoulders, and at the same time kept a loose grip on the reins. It all worked.

We ate lunch at the Crevasse Moraine picnic shelter. I was further impressed with tethered Raudi, who warned untethered Round to stay back, by squealing. She did kick him, but not hard. Yes, she’s a reasonable horse who has good equine social skills.

The return trip was a little more difficult because Raudi was a little more erratic. She wanted to be out front, but she didn’t want to have to maintain a brisk pace. I put her behind the others, and this pissed her off. She just wanted to be out front.

This was a tough situation to deal with because Katla, Claudia’s mare, also wanted to be out front. We alternated positions for a bit with me riding out front on the downhill stretches. I insisted on this because I didn’t want to be behind, and have a struggle on my hands. This wasn’t because I feared being unsafe, but because I didn’t want to undo all my good training, by fighting with her. Try to explain this to your travel companions . . .

Near the journey’s end, we stopped at Matanuska Lake and watered our animals. Both dogs and Hrimmi and Raudi drank quite a bit. I then realized that her having been erratic while under saddle was due to the fact that she had been thirsty. There were no water stops on the way out or the way back.

The trailer ride home was lengthy because we were held up by the construction site car line. Once we got home, Tinni whinnied loudly – he was glad to have the mares back. And they seemed genuinely glad to see him. I am sure the gals had stories to tell.

I’m pleased to have a horse that is so versatile. Yesterday I did agility. Today I went for a trail ride. Tomorrow I’ll do jumping. I didn’t know when I got a horse that this was what I wanted. But this is what I have – and I’m glad of it.

Next: 132. 5/19/15: The Pre-Solstice Lifestyle

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