This past weekend, I took Pico, an Arabian gelding that I've been rehabbing for the past few months to his first endurance ride. He's got a great story, part of which I shared during April's A to Z Challenge. Since then, he's found his new best horse friend, my mare Ava. They both get picked on by other horses, so are perfectly matched.
Pico has gained weight nicely and although I had to start all over with his training, he has grown to trust me and we can now go almost anywhere together. His feet have been a difficult challenge. They should have been addressed when he was young, but now it's too late. His right front foot is angled very differently from his left. That carries up the leg to the shoulder, so now his natural movement is a bit lopsided. I don't know how that will hold up for longer miles of endurance.
But no matter what, he is one of the best trail horses I've ever seen. He's brave and well behaved, not to mention super fun to ride.
Because of starting his training over and working out the balance issues with his feet as best we could, I've only had 4-5 weeks to condition him. He's done several 12-14 mile rides, so I signed him up for a gorgeous 25 mile ride in Wyoming, called Happy Jack, in the Medicine Bow National Forest.
Gorgeous rock formations, lovely twisty trails through aspen, and beautiful pine trees. Oh yeah, and lots of Wyoming wind! You never know what the weather will bring in Wyoming - I think it got down into the low 40's one night, and the wind howled. The horses shivered until the sun rose.
I'd arranged to ride with another rider bringing a first time horse. The plan was to leave late, so our guys wouldn't see horses racing off and think they needed to join them. Pico was a little concerned with horses behind him, but attacked the rocky trails like his feet were perfect. He never spooked (ok, one little one at an abandoned tire filled with beer bottles - some people!) and was willing to climb steeper hills than we'd practiced on with determination.
His only fault was having difficulty leaving his buddy, Ava. But my husband was wonderful enough to bring her to the vet checks so Pico could stand calmly for the vets. He was a true warrior this weekend. What an amazing horse! I'm lucky to have found him and hope he thinks the same of me.
I'll have to imagine him for the next horse I write into a book! He'll be a great model for a picture if that ever works out!