It's been a crazy couple of weeks. But in a good way.
I've actually been able to get out riding and I have discovered that I really do live in fantasy land.
Tucker and I, along with my friend Anne (not to be confused with my non-equestrian sister) on Cosmo, headed out to explore the woods behind my house. My lingering apprehension, the residue from my fall from Gil is dissipating thanks to Tucker and lessons from another friend;I looked forward to heading into the woods and maybe testing my nerve with some of the jumps scattered throughout the area.
We headed down the leaf layered trail in perfect Autumn weather; a slight breeze and bright sun sifted through tree branches. I'm sure the woods were filled with the calming sounds of creatures getting ready for winter providing counterpoint for the staccato crunch of hooves. Instead, our chatter and laughter echoed between the balding branches.
Our first challenge was the small brook. Tucker balked, planting his feet and snorting at the flowing water. Cosmo is known to contort to avoid putting his feet in a puddle, so there was work to be done. After a few minutes of convincing, Cosmo conceded and led us through. Tucker was more than happy to follow.
Closeby, were the first two hunt fences, one shorter than it's neighbor.
"Shall we?" Anne asked.
I was apprehensive. Tucker is still new enough that I wasn't sure how he would react to a fence so out in the open, with plenty of room to gallop and buck. My body began to lock up with insidious nervousness. My confidence plummeted.
"Not yet, lets see what's up ahead."
We continued on our way, discovering mile upon mile of wide, soft, inviting trails. Second and third fences were two coops-kind of like a roof peak. Cosmo spooked at them the first time we came upon them, by this day, he strolled right by. Tucker never even glanced their way, but they were too big and solid for my whimpy taste. The fourth fence, was a log stretched over a boulder. Nah, there was a bit of a ditch running through it,nevermind the fact that the middle was a large, hard, rock.
Fifth fence- too big.
We were still having fun, laughing and chatting along, wading through streams and large puddles (the water issue was improving), cantering up a hill, making "Man From Snowy River" jokes on the steep downside, kicking Tucker when he wanted to paw and roll in a stream (water aversion solved, new water issue a work in progress). After wandering around for nearly two hours in this horsey paradise, we returned full circle to the first jump.
"Ok. We have to do this."
I agreed. "But I'm going to come at it from the other side." I wanted to head away from the trail home.
Tucker and I trotted a ways up the trail, turned around, then turned again to get more lead up room. Anne and Cosmo followed, waiting for me to take the fence, intending to follow at a safe distance.
I took a deep breath, closed my legs upon Tucker's sides, sending him forward in a brisk trot. I pushed my weight into my heels for security, reminded myself-sit up, shoulders back, eyes up, look past the fence, and smile, as Tucker toted me toward the larger of the fences. I remembered to steer and he angled to the intended jump. (Neither was very big, but...) Trot, trot, trot, jump. No big deal. Calm and comfortable, Tucker gracefully pushed over the bars, took two canter steps, three trot steps and came to a halt, as if to say, "Really? Was that such a big deal?"
Anne's turn. She clucked and Cosmo trotted. Instead of heading to the larger fence, Cosmo tried to aim for the opening next to it. Anne guided him back. He trotted to the fence obediently. He gathered himself to leap into the air.
And changed his mind, sucking all of his forward motion backwards, and stepped over the fence...one...foot...at...a...time.
So much for being nervous and cautious.
We returned to the barn, hysterical, embarrassed for ourselves, a little muscle sore, but overjoyed at the prospect of the next ride.
And someone had told me about more trails a little further away, with "lots of baby fences." The next challenge awaited!