We went 8 miles Thursday! Snickers was actually less sweaty than last time - maybe it's because I don't think I pushed him quite as much haha. We took off down the main trail that goes under the power lines. He did pretty well, and trotted out for me just fine. He was a lot less spooky, but what he lacked in quantity he made up for in quality. The biggest spook was when a flock of tiny black birds, those one that hang out in a giant black, morphing cloud, took off from the ground 50 feet or so ahead of us - far away enough to not be any cause of concern, but close enough that it surprised Snickers. But, he worked right on through it! The funny thing is he doesn't really even break his gait when he spooks or shies, he just trots slower and around the monster and takes a good look at it. I saw a coyote as well, but I don't think Snicker saw it because he didn't spook. I stopped him and let him take a quick break while the coyote (at least 100 ft away) ran away into the brush. He did, however, smell it a moment or so after we started going again. He'd take a couple steps, freeze, stick his nose in the air, look around, and go again after a little prodding. It was only for a couple of minutes or so, though, and then he was back to normal. I'm so impressed!
Snickers extended really well when I asked him too, and it's getting easier and easier. I think it helped him a lot when I just let him extend last time as we headed back to the barn, but checking him when he broke into a lope. I think he's got the idea of what I'm asking for, and is more than eager to give it to me. Since I think he's more or less got it down, I'm going to tone down the speed and just ask him to trot nicely for a distance. I did ask him to extend every now and then, especially where the trail was really good, so I could reinforce what I wanted. I checked our speed, too, and it looks like he gives me a slower, collected trot at 7mph, and his big, extended trot is around 11-13mph. That's pretty sweet - we were cruisin!
We took a right where the main trails intersect, headed North (there's a map of our ride at the bottom of this post). One of the guys from the barn had mentioned that it loops back around and I was a little curious, but mostly I just wanted to continue exploring the trails. I kept a close look at the time, though, and kept going "just a little further" - and eventually we ended up right on Kuna Mora road! Instead of turning around, we went ahead and followed Kuna Mora back to South Vista, then walked South Vista all the way back to Dusty Acres for his cool down. He really didn't have much trouble with the cars, who were mostly nice and moved over. I'm not a huge fan of riding along the roads, but it was probably the quickest way back (and he'd already gone 4-5 miles), there was a nice, wide dirt(ish)shoulder, and it was good to know how he'd do around cars anyway. I'm not sure if Snickers caught on that we were actually getting closer to the barn rather than farther away still, but it was nice not to have that "return trip" so I know he was still concentrated on what I was asking rather than just trying to get home. It's a fine line between cruising home and barn sour lol. He did really well with a couple of other scary monsters along the way, including a torn up mattress and some other garbage thrown out along the trail.
All in all, I was pretty proud of us and can't wait to get out there again. Good boy Snickers!
Backing up a little, I did lunge him with the lunge cavesson (which I got in the mail last week), which he freaked out about like the bridle when I tried to put it on. It took one try with the clicker to get him to keep his head down, though. I think I'll just have to include my clicker in my pack (probably buy a few extras as well), just in case I'm ever out on the trail and need to get him to behave with the bridle or anything else that might come up. He calms right down and concentrates with it, but it'd sure be nice if he just got over this issue all together. He also cross fired (of course) while lunging, and I got after him some, forcing him to get back on the right foot. I did get him to do it a few times, but I'm not very satisfied with it. They horse shoeing lady was there, and she said she sticks them in a round pen and works, works, works them. I'll have to worry about that later. On the bright side, I'm not so worried about lunging him before I ride anymore - it's more to get him to let his air out so I can get the saddle tight at this point.
He also doesn't let me catch him without a treat. It's kind of funny, though - he doesn't "avoid" being caught so much as has the attitude of "bring me a treat first." Whereas when Smoke'Em was in his "don't catch me" phase, he would be very cautious and move away from the halter/lead rope even when I had a treat in my hand, Snickers just wants to munch away while I'm putting the lead rope around his neck and lets me put the halter on really nicely after that. He is so alert and keeps me in front of him, so if I don't have a treat he just backs up so I can't get to his neck, then loses interest and walks away from me. However, if I have a treat, I just offer it to him, move around to his neck, and put the lead rope around it while he's having his snack. The little stinker lol. Oh well.
Well, I think I've effectively described my whole ride with Snickers in reverse order, and I guess I'll continue to do so since I briefly worked with Flash before working with Snickers. Flash was super sweet about being caught, of course, and walked right up to me and stood still. He's shedding like crazy, so I spent a long time brushing him down. There were quite a few giant ticks in him that I felt, so I pulled out my jar and tweezers and got all the big ones I came across plus a few little ones. One of the ladies I see out there every now and then asked me what I was doing, and we talked for a while while I tracked down the nasty little suckers lol. The lunge cavesson was a little big, but I tied it up just like I did the surcingle and it worked fine. It's still twisting around his mouth, though, but he did fine for the most part. He did pretty good with the long reigns, actually. He's starting to get it and turn nicely when I ask. Just a little work every now and then I guess and we'll get there :) I'm not in any hurry! Though I sure am excited about riding him - he's such a sweet heart and everything I could ask for in a quarter horse!
I also went shopping this week - I got some good money from horse lessons and decided to go ahead and get the saddle pack and some stuff to keep my cinch clean along with the blue rope reins they'd already ordered and gotten in. Still no saddle pad, but that should be in by the end of this week or maybe the beginning of next week, as well as my other tack that I ordered!! I'm so excited - I decided to take the plunge and order my royal blue Zilco halter/bridle combo (which will be much nicer to work with getting the bridle on Snickers since the halter fits nicely under the bridle to hold his head down if need be) and matching breast collar. I can't wait to be all decked out in my blue endurance stuff! It looks so cool on everyone else's horses lol. And I will still have my very pretty all-leather bridle, of course, when I want to look classic haha. We're gonna be hot stuff! I decided I really like the blue - it's pretty color that really pops, will match Snickers well and even Flash (though it's looking like they'll each have their own tack anyway), and it's Trevor's favorite color so I'm excited to be all decked out in it :) I'll have to take a good picture once I get it all in!
You know, I just thought of this - those nice blue rope reigns will double really well as a lead rope out on the trail, especially since all I have to do is unclip them from the bit and clip it onto the halter ring :) Awesome! One less thing I'll have to carry! (maybe lol)
Ok, well I think that's about everything. I'm planning on going riding after this. I wasn't sure because, despite the semi-nice day we've had so far, it's supposed to rain - but I guess that's what endurance is all about! I'm not going to get to pick the wether for the races, so I might as well work him either way! Dang, this sport is addicting ;)