Originally it was supposed to be just the two of us, but last minute I found out that there were four other riders who wanted to join our outing. I didn’t think much of it at first since Quest has never had huge issues with new horses apart from making angrymare ears from time to time (probably a huge reason why she failed at being a western pleasure show horse).
The ride to Hawk Watch was uneventful and our group kept a walk-only pace. Quest and Lucy were the fastest walkers in the group and so we took turns leading the way. I was really impressed that despite the fact mareface is the newest horse at the barn and was totally new to the trails we covered, she had zero issues leading the group a good 60% of the time that entire day. Of course she still spooks from time to time when she spots something that takes her by surprise but they are shudder-in-place spooks- The stuff I can deal with.
Riding over the dam bridge for the first time.
Brave mareface led the way across when we headed home!
We took our time, enjoying the perfect fall weather, laughing, taking pictures and eventually arrived at our destination. True to JA’s claim, the view was absolutely breathtaking.
I took this picture right before the crowds came.
It was so tranquil and you could see for miles around
Though Quest was keeping to the trail and not hauling on my hands, the trail was also NOT flat or level as M said it was. I really didn’t want to risk injury to anyone and decided it was safer to dismount and work Quest from the ground to get her brain back on me. It took about 10 minutes (which felt like an eternity) but after firm reminders of the emergency stop to chill and stand, we walked back out to the parking lot and I was able to mount back up. After discussion, we decided to go back the way we came and not risk doing M's suggested route.
The three other riders eventually figured out we had stopped but decided to not to wait and headed back home without JA, S, and me. In the end, it was much better that our group had split up because Quest was much better without the other horses around her. She even led the way home a few times and we returned back to barn sane and quiet as we had left.
While no one was hurt and everyone was fine in the end, I can’t help but be annoyed by the lack of consideration the other riders exhibited- especially when JA and I both went into the ride telling everyone we were doing walk-only. It's been awhile since I did a large group ride and maybe I took some things for granted.
This experience does remind me that I need to continue working on Quest’s “stand and wait” on the trail. It’s been her weakness from the beginning and I really should be addressing that more proactively. She does it just fine in an arena where there is no stimuli around her whatsoever so this will have to be a "on the trail" training thing. We did lose almost a year to her injury though so naturally trail training things have been on the backburner. I’m not fazed by the setback though; it just means we have to just go out more. We’ll get better with time and practice.