Holy T Shirt Weather Batman....
I could not believe the weather today. Here in SW Ohio it has been raining on and off and getting progressively warmer all week.
Well, today it was in the mid 60s and all the snow was GONE. I get to the barn around 2:30 and find Bacon in his stall nice and clean, not filthy with mud like I feared. So I am tacked up and warming up in 15 min.
The outdoor arena is too sloppy and slippery (Tuesday afternoon Bacon slipped and went down to his knees andI hit the ground hard there) so I start working in the indoors. It doesn't take long to figure out that neither of us has the heart to trudge around in figures in a box today.
A little backstory, I started leasing Bacon, a 10 yo OTTB with 47 starts who has been off the track for about a year, back in mid November. I had never had him outside the arena until today, though a few times I've ridden him down the driveway to the road to test him out and he did fine.
So back to today, I get off, go to my car, get my eventing vest on (just in case), get back on Bacon and head out the barn's driveway. Down about .6 miles from the barn is one of those rails to trails deals with a strip of asphalt in the middle and a wide grass strip on either side. I already know horses are legal on them and I've been waiting to go riding down there at the first chance.
So we get to the road and I start riding south along the edge. First test is a truck coming down the road. Bacon gets a little edgy but some redirection and soothing words and he gets it back together. We get to the first bridge where there is no shoulder and we have to ride on pavement. Kick on and he gets on the road and we trot over to the shoulder again. This is a very lightly used country road so not too dangerous.
Next issue is a farm with a couple of horses turned out that have a minor freakout when I ride past. Bacon gets a little excited again but I give him a couple of half halts then put leg on and he goes on down the road. So far so good.
We get to the where the bike trail crosses the road and start going down the trail. First at a walk until I am comfortable with the footing, then up to a nice working trot, and after a while some canter sets. I can tell Bacon is really enjoying himself and the break from the arena routine. These old racehorses really have seen everything in their track days and his worst spook today was really very mild compared to other horses I've had before.
We really had a nice ride. We passed bikers, joggers, walkers, cows, a lake full of geese, bright orange markers, and odd wooden structures (observation deck) that he had never seen and he took it all in stride. We even had a couple of college girls on bikes stop to take their pics with Bacon.....
When we turned around he quickly figured out that meant going home and he got a little fresh but again he did not turn into a pulling monster and remained on the aids and rateable.
God I love OTTBs and I can't wait to take him out on the trails again next weekend. Even though we are cooling back down to January temps, we are forecast to remain dry. If it does stay cool I might even let him have a nice hand gallop on the trail. Today was just too warm to work too hard in his winter coat.