I may come as a shock to most of my readers, but I almost never ride alone. In fact, I can count the number of times I have ridden out alone with Brego on one hand. Although I am not the bravest person on earth, when it comes to the Brego human projectile probabilities, the reason is not one of safety. It's because my SO rides, same sport even, so I always have a fun, competitive, wonderful riding partner.
I've been feeling a bit like it's a hole in our training, the riding alone. On cross country day, Brego always does well once we hit the course and he is focused. And the one recognized overnight event we went to, Brego went without the old mare, and again he did fine. But still, the long solo rides, where you rely only on each other, are important. So I have tried to formulate how to diplomatically say, "Honey, I am going to go out on a fun ride and I think you should stay home and comfort your hysterical, herd-bound mare."
Turns out, I need not worry. Riding alone is an undeniably good skill, so it took little convincing. Brego and I would set out alone.
I could tell the heat of the day (38 F, 3.3 C) was affecting the big boy, he was unusually agreeable as I tacked him up and left the property, the old mare screaming for him in the background. We went out into the woods and the deep snow was definitely an asset. No matter what Brego wanted to do, he was obligated to work hard walking forward. I even rode him in the loose ring snaffle, preferring if he got naughty, that he pulled instead of reared. We had a great ride, tough going, but magnificently beautiful. He was great, never offering to misbehave.
When we finally turned for home, Brego tried to run back. Every time he got quick, I would turn him around and make him trudge through deep snow AWAY from home. He's a smart boy and quickly learned the fastest way home was to go slow. Even when we got within ear shot of home and the old mare was calling to him, Brego kept his cool and delivered me safe and victorious after our solo venture. One of many to follow.
Wanting to capitalize on this glorious day and the equally good mood of my horse, we tried some skijoring. Brego barely glanced at the skiis as the SO took a few passes by while we watched. Finally, I attached the tow rope and tossed it over. I urged Brego into a walk and he pulled the skier, noisy skis and all, over the pasture (the only place around with moderately packed snow). He was completely nonplussed, never thought about it, maybe a bit amused at the clumsy, flat boards tripping up the human. Complete fun.
A week's worth of riding, and two goals accomplished, in a single day. Nice.