It occurred to me a few weeks ago that one of the reasons I had not been riding more was boredom. Hat and I both prefer challenges, changes, and activity while riding – well to some extent. I would prefer that he be a little more steadfast and predictable when it comes to trail riding. The dork thinks deer are playmates, but spooks at a 6′ tree stump. Going around inside a riding area with nothing to interact with or work on – BORING. So it was time to introduce some challenge to our pasture riding, but it would require some creativity because there was no money to spare.
Last weekend I spent several days clearing trails through the woods. Dudley thought it was marvelous – the two of us wandering through the underbrush, clearing small brush. Thanks to help from my neighbor was even able to get the chainsaw started and cut out the trees that had fallen into the trails. I spent most of the one afternoon gathering strong limbs almost 15 that were 6-8′ long, another 10 that were around 2-4′ in length, and 8 stumps about a foot high. Then it was time to create an obstacle course. Used the long limbs and stumps to create several jumps, short poles provided a section of trot poles in the center and there were enough long and short poles that I created an L for Hat to back through and side pass around.
Hat followed me around knocking things down and jumping over poles as I was putting them up. Ah yes, the joy of a curious curly. Now we have the pleasure of an obstacle course to offer us challenges as well as clear trails. As of yet, I have not gotten up the confidence to ride Hat through the woods; however, I have saddled him up and walked him through the trails. As we get more comfortable we are both increasing our confidence so I am hopeful this winter we will be riding through the woods rather than just walking. When we walked past the pond we startled the ducks to flight which sent hat into a spin. It was a reminder of why I was working him on the ground and not in the saddle.