Nakai hasn’t been off the farm property since April (at Foxcatcher). I missed a handful of training rides due to prior wedding obligations and plans. We mixed up schooling with the 5-8 mile loops at home, but it just isn’t the same. I couldn’t sleep last night from the excitement of finally getting out again. Nockamixon is “home” for me. I spent my childhood and early teen years riding my OTTB mare and various other mounts through the trails. I could do them blind folded! They are the perfect combination of narrowed, wooded tree-bending trails, open fields, wide brush-hogged trails, and has an a stretch of trail that borders the lake cliff. It is perpetually windy by the lake – that combined with the low humidity made this summer day fantastic.
We went out with 4 other barn ladies and got to show the pleasure riders the rest of the trails. Last fall, I trailered here with Maria. I wanted to do a training ride, and she wanted to do her first solo ride on Beamer. As it turned out, she got lost and ended up stuck on a small loop portion of the trail and never got a chance to see the rest! I felt like a terrible friend and promised next time would be better. She reins and pleasure rides with her gelding, and Beamer is starting to get fit enough to keep up with the endurance riders on a fun ride.
Nakai was on fire! He felt wonderful and obviously thrilled to be out. He powered down the trails and ripped up his favorite galloping hill at over 31 mph! Teaching him “up” is easily the best cue I’ve ever taught it. It is quite a thrill to add leg, tell him “Up!!” and have him immediately pick up his feet and float over the mud bogs, rocks, and tree roots that litter the trails. He loves technical footing! I’m occasionally reminded how spoiled I am when I ride a horse who does not know how to pick up their feet. We had a bit of a discussion when I let Rose and Boy Boy lead (Nakai is very competitive and convinced he’s the only one who knows where they’re going) but he settled into a beautiful working trot and canter. We were able to work on rating from behind and “riding our own ride”. His competitive nature sometimes makes it a struggle to keep focused on our individual ride when out with others. It seems ironic, though, because he is naturally a fairly independent horse. He’ll happily take the top trail while the rest take the bottom, or decide to pick his way through a different part of trail rather than follow where everyone else has gone.
Kai’s hydration still needs work. He drinks plenty at home, but I’m having difficulty keeping him drinking when we go out on training rides. Today was no different despite the fun pace, and I’m currently looking at electrolyte options. I’m not sure if a daily feed-in would be best or if I should just dose him before a ride. Normally, once he starts drinking he will continue to do so… it’s just starting that’s the issue. Looking online has given me so many options that it’s been hard to make a decision. He is thankfully a big eater out on the trail and will happily stop for a bite at any time. Between the grass and various carrots, cookies, and treats we had in our bags he was fine… but I would feel much better if he was consistently drinking.
We ended the ride with a couple miles of walk and gave everyone a chance to cool out and relax. I am very glad I clipped Kai again – he stayed cool and enjoyed his post-ride mash! He didn’t have any soreness (I wasn’t expecting any) and he trotted out great when we got home. And despite not having any training ride opportunities since April, I felt great as well. I woke up this morning without a single stiff or sore muscle.