Last night I took Q on a walk/hike. For myself, I wanted to hike the 3 mile loop that goes onto the back road beyond the woods. For Q, I just wanted her to have time to spend with me that wasn't riding.
I used to do things like this with Griffin a lot fduring our first 6-8 months together. Q was already under saddle and well-along in her training, so I never took the time. While she and I had few to any issues for our first year or so together, I suspect that our issues with confidence/trust now stem from not taking the time to be slower before. And thus, I'm setting My Agenda and Hopes aside, to take many backward steps to do better by her.
And so, last night I hooked my 18' line to her halter and off we went!
My plan to hike the 3 mile loop was quickly thwarted by my lack of planning in regards to my footwear for the stream crossing. I wasn't wearing waterproof shoes and didn't favor having wet feet all evening. The crossing isn't even ankle deep at the area I wanted to traverse, but the current is *just* strong enough that I'd have ended up with pretty damp feet in the shoes I was wearing.
I tried for a time to build a large stepping platform with rocks at the most narrow part of the stream so that I could then leap across (for which Q stood quietly and patiently for), but ended up giving up on it.
We wandered down to the other crossing "just to see", but that one was even more of a no go!
A third area of the stream where there is a lot of unrest with the channel (it changes its shape every high flow) seemed that it might hold some potential, so we headed there next. I had a bit more luck here, but still, no cigar.
However, at this third crossing there is a VERY LARGE sycamore tree that fell years ago whose trunk is still intact that spans a large part of the channel. I'd say the diameter at breast height of this tree is probably (or was when it was standing) a solid 2½ to 3 feet! I clambered up onto the trunk to see about the landing on the far side. It was a bit messy, but by moving three other limbs that had washed against the trunk during a high flow event, it was much clearer. I asked Q to navigate the obstacle before her and join me on the far side.
As high stepping as this little mare can be, I half anticipated her to attempt stepping over. Q however, with nearly zero hesitation upon my request, sized it up, and launched herself high and far over the fallen tree. "No big deal," her expression seemed to read. She was very, very calm about the whole thing.
We meandered along the far side of the stream channel a bit, but with no clear crossing I chose to exit back up onto the land further upstream from where we had started. This placed us in a lower field section of the farm we rarely walk through where grass was still long, green and plentiful. I allowed Q to graze a few minutes before we walked through the field more.
A short grassy hill took us up into the apple orchard above. Q had been perky since entering the New-To-Her field, so I let her take her energy in front of me and tailed her up the short hill and continued to tail her through the orchard field a bit.
She was very looky and very alert through here. It was good to observe how she is from the ground in a New-To-Her situation. She was still forward, but she just needed to take time to look around and see everything.
We exited the orchard within a minute's time. This brought us onto the maintained yard near the garage apartment where I let her graze for a few minutes more.
Because the herd had gathered along the fenceline nearest to Q and I (about 250 feet away), I decided to ask her to continue our walk a bit more to see how she'd deal with me taking her near and then away from her friends again.
We headed up the driveway and onto the road, which took us closer and closer until we were alongside the fenceline where the other horses were. Griffin was the most upset of all the horses in the field at this moment, trotting and cantering to keep near to Q and I, whinnying all the while. Q, while observant, seemed unbothered. While looky, her body language read that she was very relaxed.
We walked up the nearby church driveway a bit more before turning around and heading back to the farm and calling it quits for the night (it was very dark by now). Although, Q got to graze one last time before being turned out with her friends.
I was pleased with how relaxed she was for our exploratory jaunt. We ended up only traversing a mile or so in ~30 minutes time. I think many more jaunts like this are in our future to supplement the ground driving!