Amazing (Totally-Non-Seasonal) weather today, so dropped everything went to the barn. Took the mare out first. She was totally relaxed when I went to get her in the field (she's always an easier catch than the gelding), and continued to stay relaxed while I groomed in in the barn. She usually starts to realize I'm taking her away from him as soon as I start grooming her in the barn. She was still a bit jiggy going out, and it didn't help that we met a guy with a un-leashed husky at the mouth of the trail we were planning on riding. He was very apologetic, the dog wasn't aggressive, just curious. I would have just left and gone to another trail, but the dog kept wanting to follow us, and it was just making it hard for the guy to catch him and get him in the truck. Although I didn't know him, it was likely I'll run into him again, so I just kept her walking around in the vicinity of the truck until he was able to get his dog into the truck. Figured it was a good "learning" experience for her as well. After he got the dog in the truck I went down the road to the other trail anyway, and then did part of the original intended trail at the end of the ride (just to show her the dog wasn't there anymore). She was her usual nervous jiggy self, so was pretty sweated up when we got back to the barn but it was actually warm enough to give her a good sponge off. She loved it -- can't wait to give her a good bath next spring when it's warm enough.
The gelding was not expecting me to ride him today (I've never ridden them both in the same day before, so he figured he was "off the hook"). Walked straight up to him with her still on the lead, let her off and walked over to him (he was expecting just pats) and put his halter on.
I had each of them out on the trails for 90 minutes and it was great. After 3 hours in the saddle though, I might be considering a sheepskin or or cashel tush cushion (or both) for the spring, when I'm planning on working up to 3-4 hour long slow distances with them.
Forecast is again "un-seasonable" for Thursday -- seriously considering taking the afternoon off to take advantage of the weather -- it'll likely be the last day before we go into the "minuses" for good for the winter.
I would underscore the importance of going out on the trail being something your green horse learns is both safe and enjoyable, even without other horses. I say a little mantra in my head as I set out : "safe, happy, centered" ---centered because you can ride any spook easily as if dancing!no big deal. And I wanna convey that this trail thing is great fun for us both--my mare can hear my mantra I'm sure.
I consistently ride to a halfway point that is a great place for a short graze-- a goal and a remembered reward for the horse. I carry carrot pieces in my pocket for bravery (crossing that stream,standing calmly as you mount from a log, or as a motorcycle passes on the road). I do sing! Often "Happy Trails". Talk too. And getting off and leading is fine when your horse is overly nervous--I think,literally , shows the horse leadership "Come on--it's not so bad--let's go on" is the message. Wonderful bonding happens.
As others have mentioned, there may still be scary moments--- horses being hardwired for escape--- but they will be the exception rather than the rule.