|They have this really nice little carry bags to put over your saddle horn to carry water.|
We started off on a gravel road going up, up, up. Buddy was pretty forward and wanted to be in the lead the whole way. Normally he tends to be the slow poke in the back of the group. I was fine with leading, other than not knowing where we were going.
Sandy, the trainer, has made little detours off the road to practice going up and down banks and over logs so we did some of that. Buddy was too interested in everything but his feet and after a couple stumbles we had a little discussion about slowing down and paying attention. He got better as we went along, probably because everything kept getting steeper and steeper and he was getting tired.
We came to one section where we veered off the road and went up this incredibly steep hill. The path was like a goat track, along the rock, straight up the hill. I put Bud in the middle of the pack, gave him his head, and grabbed the saddle horn. I think I remembered saying "Oh, shit" about half way up when I felt Bud slip a bit and gave him a big kick. He powered up the rest of it and was breathing hard when we got to the top. Both him and I didn't expect that much hard work today! There was no way I could have made it up that hill in my jump saddle.
We rode around the top of the hill a bit, then came down a different path that wasn't nearly as steep. It still had me leaning way back, and grabbing the back of my saddle with one hand though! We had been riding for about an hour at this point and Buddy was still going strong and had figured out we were headed back "home". He got way out in front of the group so we stopped a couple times to let them catch up. He got pissed about waiting so we did some leg yielding and turn on the haunches to work some energy out.
When we got back to the main road we turned the opposite direction of the barn and went towards the Santiam River. Buddy took a look at it, sniffed the water, then marched right in. We mostly walked along the shallow bank, but also went into some pretty deep water. It was up to his belly, and the bottom of my boots were getting wet. Bud was having a blast and I was pretty much letting him go wherever. I guess there's a spot a little further up that the horses can actually swim in, so next time we're going to try that.
Of course going back from the river, the trainer wanted up to go up one last pretty steep hill instead of the easy slope we rode down on. To me it looked like a giant wall of grass, but again there was a small path up. Buddy made it half way up then decided it was too much work and cantered the rest of the way. Again, I gave him his head and grabbed the saddle horn. We rode for about two hours in total, and both Bud and I were exhausted when we got back to trainer's barn.
|A and her pony up the last hill|