We spent two nights at the Cedars of Lebanon State Park outside of Nashville, TN. We had a 12 hour day from Texas to Tennessee, so we planned on staying an additional day at the park to allow the horses to rest before our push to Virginia.
The break allowed for a nice trail ride through the state park on the day off. Brego was hard to handle on the ground in the morning, so I decided to longe him. He's the only horse I have ever met that comes off a long trailer ride with more energy than he started with. I think he naps in there.
The longe was pretty difficult. He was in full testing mode with me, after the long separation. He bucked, kicked, and halfway reared before I got reasonable walk to trot transitions without protesting and head tossing. I started him in side reins so I could use the outside rein to keep his shoulder from popping and keep some semblance of control. He was so naughty, I was glad I had that rein. After a few minutes I seemed to have won some mental battle because he immediately became more pliable and obedient. He was not tired, just lazy enough to stop fighting. The good ol' boys at the stable where we overnighted had a good time watching the show. I am sure I looked like some evil Dressage princess with my horse all rigged up in a surcingle and side reins. I would love to see one of those guys get on Brego when he is in that mood with a shank bit. I honestly think they could get Brego to flip over. All this work to get him off the forehand has succeeded. He is getting light in front.
Anyway, after the longe session, I took off the side reins and we did simple halt to walk transitions on a loose line around me. He did great and I made it easy for him to be a good boy and stretch his neck down and relax. After the tension of the previous few minutes, it nice to see him work on a loose line and listen. That's the boy I remember.
I finally got on and we went for a ride. The trail was very rocky and muddy with big slabs of stone littered across the trail. There was no packed dirt to be found, it was either boggy or rocks. Since Brego had already demolished his Boa Boots, I was trying his brand new #7 Ez Boots. They didn't appear to fit very well, but with the gaiters, they stayed on the whole ride, and I have to say that I really tested them. Brego was listening, but full of go and would not walk quietly behind Hobby. I was not looking to start piaffe training so I decided that we should just trot it out, even if the trail was a nightmare. So we started trotting and ended up going about 4 miles before he asked to slow down. As we worked, the trail would get challenging and at first Brego would suck back and really study the ground. After a couple of miles though, his confidence in his balance and in his new boots to offer traction grew and he started really cruising over this crazy ground. By the end, he was offering to canter a couple of times, but I didn't want to add any more speed to his brain.
After a good ride in the sun, we went back to the barn. His boots had stayed on and worked amazing well considering the conditions. The rocks were problematic and he also negotiated thick sucking mud. I am pretty impressed. I am going to pad the boots to see if I can get them to fit better and then call them a success!