As I wrote about last time, heading away from home, especially without other horses for company, can be stressful for horses. Today dawned cloudy and still. It’s always less scary when the wind isn’t blowing things about. This would be a good opportunity to get Tonka off property, without Steve or a horse as a security blanket. The weather report said that there was a possibility of rain late in the day. We had plenty of time. I tacked up at 11 am.
Tonka didn’t balk (which he does do when he’s truly scared), but did walk head high and quickly. I could feel right away that this wasn’t going to be a hack on the buckle. I rode in my dressage saddle which puts me balanced and upright, with my legs draped around Tonka’s sides. I felt secure. Honestly, I was a tad nervous, too – any horse can cut a dangerous move when frightened – and although Tonka is sane and thoughtful, he is a horse, and an athletic one at that. He’s capable of leaping all four in the air and wheeling around in the blink of an eye. But once I settled into my saddle and we got going I could tell that Tonka’s energy was partly driven by curiosity and enthusiasm. My role was to keep it like that. I let him decide the pace. It was quick! The nerves showed. Tonka pooped several times. He startled once. Further up the trail he spooked and scooted forward. But he didn’t try to turn for home. Like for me, the enjoyment of being out in woods and fields outweighed the worries. We were having a good time. Tonka even looked over at a path that we didn’t take the last time and asked if we could explore. I said sure.
After about a mile, we headed back home. Usually by this point Tonka would have settled and slowed down a bit. His preferred style of walk is head lower and relaxed. Some of my trail riding friends have commented that his pace is too slow for them! But today after a half-hour, Tonka was still marching quickly along. It didn’t feel like fear. I could drop the reins and take the video. It wasn’t like he was going to gallop home if unrestrained. There was, though, an unusual eagerness to get back.
As the barn came into sight the rain started. A few drops. A couple of minutes later, as I was swinging out of the saddle, the clouds let loose. We were lucky that I had decided not to do further exploring, but to make this an easy ride of under an hour!
Perhaps the rainstorm was why Tonka kept up the quick pace all the way back to the barn. Did he know that it was coming? The weather reporters certainly didn’t. In fact, that heavy downpour at the barn was a bit of a freak, localized right over the stables. A quarter-mile down the road, as I drove home, the roads were still dry. Eventually the rain did come, but as predicted, later in the afternoon.
Has your horse known about incoming weather before you have? Let me know in the comments!