Mimi, the opinionated walking horse, has made some incremental progress lately. She has impeccable ground manners and rides well in the arena. She also does well with a group on the trail. Problems arise when she needs to be ridden off the farm alone. Once she realizes she’s about to leave, she will balk and attempt to turn back. If allowed to, she would also buck and rear. I’ve pushed many a horse through that problem, but Mimi chooses not to make her play until we are entering the paved public road. I’ve been trying to find a way to solve the problem without having a fight in the middle of traffic.
On a recent Sunday, several folks gathered at the barn. The winter had been mild so far, and everyone was up for a good trail ride. I had been debating different tactics to get past her problem without putting the horse, myself and drivers in danger. I had thought of putting a couple of folks out to block traffic while I got her started. But once we were saddled and ready, the boss said “Why don’t you just take the lead and let’s see what happens.”
We started out, and the boss held everyone else back about 50 yards. Mimi went out into the road with no hesitation. And just as she had on other rides, she paid no attention to cars, trucks and motorcycles passing us by. Once off the road and into the trail, the group stayed back 100 yards or more. They say they caught glimpses of me from time to time, but I didn’t see them until we all got back to the farm.
Mimi and I forged ahead, sometimes walking, other times at an easy amble. We met several other people out enjoying the trail. There were hikers, dog walkers, and cyclists. As usual, Mimi shared the trail with them without any fuss. At the creek crossing, she picked her way across calmly and confidently.
There are several places where the trail comes near the paved road. At each one, I took Mimi out onto the pavement for a short distance. She never flinched. This convinced me that it is not the road she is bothered by. Rather, it is leaving the farm and her pasture mates that has her overly concerned. And that is what we will continue to work on.
|Mimi standing ground tied at the barn|