Saturday, May 23, 2009

First Trail Ride in 25+ Years!

This morning, Marley and I went on a trail ride hosted by some local professionals who gave us pointers along the way. This was rated as a beginner ride which is exactly what Marley and I needed. Not only was it our first trail ride together, it was my first trail ride in over 25 years!! This was a big deal for me!

I've been waiting a long time for this and it was great fun to finally take one of those from-the-saddle-and-through-the-ears photos.

Riding among the pine trees was a treat for Marley and Me. At first, he was full of bundled energy and it was a challenge to stay one horse length behind the rider ahead of us. We did some circling, and flexing, and some zig-zagging along the trail to slow down and occupy Marley's mind. Half way through the ride he became more relaxed and mellow and it was a joy to ride him.

It was chilly and raining lightly when we started on the trail, but the rain stopped during our ride. It poured yesterday, so the trail was very wet with lots of water puddles to cross. This was a great opportunity for Marley, as crossing water has been an issue of his in the past. He was quite hesitant at the first couple of puddles, but soon he was sloshing right through them, mud and all. I was very pleased with him.

We also got some practice going up and down some small hills. This is a challenge for Marley since he has a very drafty build with a big thick neck and is naturally very heavy on the forehand.

Toward the end of the ride, I could tell Marley was getting tired; he began stumbling here and there for no apparent reason.

Back in the parking lot, the ride is over, and I have a goofy smile from ear to ear. I love my chunky pony! But do you see how muddy his legs are?

The last stumble Marley took was a big one. The other riders said he went down onto all four legs. I thought for a moment I was going to taste dirt, but I stayed on and he recovered. I'm confident he'll get better with more experience and conditioning.

I hope this is the first of many trail rides for Marley and Me.

Next post will be on Wednesday.


  1. Nicely done! You must feel so good about yourself and Marley!

    I have an off-topic question for you! Is Marley shiny? Like normal horses have shiny coats? Edgar really isn't, his coat is pretty matte, so is his grandmother's. I'm wondering if it's a Fjord thing or if I should bug his owners about nutrition/worming etc. Any thoughts?

  2. Thanks Ruckus Butt. No, Marley is not shiny. I've heard other Fjord owners discuss this also. One was told by a judge that she was marked down in a non breed specific class because her Fjord was not as shiny as the other horses in the class. The Fjord owners agreed that the judge didn't know Fjords. So I think, while their summer coats do become more sleek, I don't think there is as much shine to them as other breeds. Their hair is different too; feels more coarse to me. Maybe Horse Of Course will tell us if the Fjords in Norway tend to look more matte than other breeds. Maybe the dun color doesn't reflect light as well?

  3. Oh thank you! That helps put my mind to rest. His owner is really good about care and I questioned her approach to everything before agreeing to exercise Ed, so I wasn't sure what to think as he shed out and still wasn't shiny. You're right, the hair does feel different. It makes me think of sheep's wool :)

    Horse Of Course - I'd like to hear your opinion too!

  4. Hi Becky, Congrats on the successful trail ride!!!!!

    Kathleen (Marley's coach)

  5. What fun! You and Marley look so happy in that photo! I am so happy for you - isn't it great to be back on the trail!?! Hooray!

  6. Yippeee!!! Congratulations on the ride, OnceUpon- that looks like a really nice ride!
    Re. coat shine I haven't thought about it to be honest. When they have the winter coat on there is less shine for sure. But with summercoat there should be shine like in another horse. As I haven't thought about it I suppose there hasn't been any remarkable difference one way or the other. I will keep my eyes open, and revert to the board :-)

  7. It's not easy for a horse to experience the trails for the first time in a long time. I'm so glad you two made it through it well. Horse stumbles are scary. Bombay tripped while I was riding him the other day and his hind legs went out from underneath him. I'm used to the front end going down, so I had to react differently with the hind end going down. I guess they have to trip a few times before they learn to pick up their feet. Bombay is really bad about dragging his hooves across obstacles.

  8. That is so awesome you were able to get out! While I love arena work sometimes there is just nothing like a nice trail ride. I havent been out by myself in a LONG time but used to love getting deep in the bush with just me and my horse. Watch's addictive!

  9. Congratulations on getting out for your trail ride. I'm so glad you had a great time and am sure there will be more fun in your future.

  10. Hey Kathleen! Thanks for dropping by. I think Marley's big stumble was my fault.I got lazy toward the end of the ride and stopped "riding" him and was instead just sitting on him enjoying the ride when I should have been supporting him and keeping his hind quarters engaged. I want my family to go back to this trail and hike it with me while I ride Marley on it some more.

    juliette, yes it is great to be back on the trail. I want to get my mare out there too. She'd love it.

    HorseOfCourse, thanks, it was a beautiful little ride. Can't wait to do it again when it is warm and sunny instead of cold and rainy.

    NuzMuz, I should have been paying attention when Marley did a couple of small stumbles before the big one. And we were on easy terrain when it happened so I was completely not expecting such a big trip.

    Horse Crazed, you'd love the ride this group is planning in July. Marley and I will not be attending however, because they are doing an extreme wilderness trail, dense forest, steep terrain, crossing running water, flight-for-life notified in advance. Nope, not for Marley and Me. We'll be sticking to the bunny slopes for a long while.

    Thanks Grey Horse. Finally getting a trailer has opened up more possibilities. I really want to get my mare going. This would be a great trail for her if she could handle the mountain bikers. I may take her there soon and just walk her on the lead line. I saw a nice fallen tree that we could step over and play around.