On October 2, 2010 we will be doing our second Mustang Benefit event. Whispering Hills Farm will be hosting a Poker Ride at Garland Mountain. Entry Fees will be $40 a rider and the winning hands will get prizes ranging from training or lesson time with me, discounts on clinics, equine massages, and natural horsemanship tack. The ride will start at 10:00 a.m. and a BBQ lunch will be included. So enough of the shameless plug, but now you know why I did what I did next!
Tuesday morning myself and two other boarders decided to make an excursion to Garland Mountain to check it out and get a game plan for the Poker ride we will be hosting in October. We got the morning barn work done and loaded the three horses including Eclipse on to the trailer, loaded our tack and ventured on out way. We got to the trail head, unloaded and tack up. All the horses seemed pretty laid back about our new surroundings. we mounted up, looked at a map to decide our route, and headed down the trail. Just for grins I went first with Eclipse to see if he would lead. That lasted about 20 yards. We were not so confident about going past the orange mesh silt fence next to the parking area. So we let Adrianne and her horse Eikon take the lead. We walked on for about twenty minutes letting our horses relax into the ride. Once relaxed we decided to pick up the pace to a trot in the less rocky areas. (Eclipse is bare foot but did well with the rocks). Things were going so well all three of us were probably more relaxed then we should have been. We were busy chatting away when all of the sudden Adrianne, who still had the lead, yelled "DEER!" and that is all it took. The flight instincts of all three horses kicked in at once. Both Eikon and Eclipse turned from the trail and headed into the woods at a dead run! As looked at the on coming branches I made the split second decision to bail! Once I hit the ground I took inventory of the situation. All I could see is the hind end of both Eclipse and Eikon heading into the woods, Adrianne still on Eikon. Our third rider Nicole was still on the trail and was able to shut down her mare with a one rain stop. I yelled to Adrianne to grab Eclipse who was running along side of her. SHe eventually hit an open space where she was able to bend her mount to a stop. Just like a good herd mate, as soon as Eikon stopped running so did Eclipse and Adrianne was able to hop down and grab him. Well we were all awake now. We gave the horses and ourselves a few moments to shake off the adrenalin. All three horses never got quite as relaxed as they were at the start of the trail, they were all looking for the horse eating deer. We managed to navigate the rest of the trail successfully with Rosie, the third horse, in the lead.
Hind sight is always 20/20. This was the first off property trail ride for both Eikon and Eclipse and Rosie is not a seasoned tail horse either. To do it all over again, we would have had one more well seasoned trail horse join our ranks to give Eikon and Eclipse a more stable leader to mirror. As it was Eclipse was just following Eikons lead which wasn't as bomb proof as we thought, but until he has the confidence to lead on his own he will only be as confident as his leader. I was probably also pushing the envelope too :-)