NYE I gave a long-awaited riding lesson to a patrol friend. Catching the horses was a bit of an adventure as they were once again on the other side of the creek (though not in the high pasture fortunately). I ended up bridling Q and riding her bareback back across again. She was so behaved and responsive on the ride to the barn. We cantered the bulk of the way (I know, I know, bad horse practice to run to the barn…granted running AWAY from her friends was an impressive feat for Q!) and she stayed responsive to what I asked the whole time. Good pony!
My friend did fairly well and Q did exceptional with the lesson (he’d never ever ridden a horse prior to this). But after the lesson was when the real fun began …
I’ve wanted to teach my horses to pull a skier (or sledder) for awhile. Having a very talented skier at my disposal and a significant amount of snow on the ground made this the perfect opportunity to attempt this. I studied the photos Dom had of when she did this and put on Q’s breastplate and hooked up the lines to the rings on it that were at her shoulder. We putzed around the barnyard with the dead lines behind us to let her get used to them being there. Other than on turns where she’d see them out of the corner of her eye, she had zero issues beyond a few tense steps.
After Q was okay with this step, I had my friend walk behind holding the lines, slowly applying more and more pressure to them so that she was eventually the one motivating his forward steps. She had ZERO issues with this. She was calmer with this than the dead lines. For my little mare who will tuck tail and hunch up in a hopping fear away from random horses who come up behind her suddenly, I was beyond impressed that she was cool with this.
So then, we took the next big step, my friend put on his skis and we went for it.
We started at a walk. Q flicked an ear once or twice, but was otherwise unconcerned with the skier behind her. We picked up a trot. No issues. We cantered. No problem! Most excellent.
My friend figured out his balance with a horse pulling him while we all went through our gaits in the barn yard. Once we were comfortable we set loose on the dirt road that goes along the property.
We cantered the whole thing, and even galloped some of it. Q wasn’t bothered at all by a speeding skier behind her, and if anything was more focused and balanced than during any normal work (though really, I think she was just having a very good, focused day). My friend figured out his balance and was able to make some tele turns (he telemark skis) and everyone had a really awesome time. Despite the extended period of fast-paced workout, Q still didn’t work up a sweat, though she was right on the verge, I’m certain. Still, a great and successful workout for her; she does so well with something to focus on.
I love my diverse little pony.