Today was an adventure in contrasts.
Maddie and I joined 16 other riders from the Kittitas Valley Trail Riders (and one pack horse-in-training) for a ride up Green Canyon, through the Wenatchee National Forest. We started at the two little rectangles at the bottom , slightly left of center of this map, rode up the creek into the area surrounding the words "Wenatchee National Forest" in the upper middle. It was mostly up hill going in, then some up-ing and down-ing in the roadless area, then downhill back to our starting point.
What was really irritating was that Maddie jigged for 90% of the three hour ride! I would just get her settled into an energetic but acceptable walk, and something would come along to give her an excuse to start up again with the dainty little trot steps. She wanted so very badly to keep up with whichever horse was in front of her, to the point of stuffing her head up their tail, if I would have let her (but that's rude and dangerous, so, of course, I didn't let her). It was nice that if the whole group stopped, she would stand quietly until it was time to move again--then move she did! It reminded me a lot of her first poker ride last year.
What was good was that she handled some of the things that came along to fluster her: we rode much of the time alongside a rushing brook, and for one little section, the creek had spilled on to the roadway, and she dealt with it without her behavior getting any worse (for the most part). The wet places weren't all that muddy, really, and ran the length of the road, parallel to our direction of travel. I sidepassed her over them several times, back and forth along the road, and she also managed to step in a few puddles without melting.
We also crossed several small bridges--at the first, our leader pointed out that there was the option of crossing the water rather than the bridge...Yeah, right! I spent nearly 45 minutes last summer with this same trail riding group to get Maddie across a small, muddy creek. Until last fall, Maddie was always trailered in my older ramp trailer, and I'm sure that's why she (and all my others) don't worry too much about thumping across wooden platforms. My only worry was that she might sidestep off the edge, but she walked across each time likes nobody's business. Good girl!
But the BIGGEST accomplishment of the day was just before we stopped for a break.
Just before we stopped for a break, on
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE CREEK!
(I do believe I saw my life flash before my eyes!)
On our first approach, the horse ahead of Maddie hesitated, and I think Maddie was just about to follow her through. Then the other horse barreled on across, leaving Maddie behind on the bank with nothing but her worries about getting her feet wet.
Warren came up behind us and said "Let her follow me." So as he inched his gelding down, one step at a time, Maddie slowly but steadily matched his steps.
She stopped at the muddy little drop off into the water, but Warren's gelding waited for her, and, after only a moment,
Maddie stepped into the creek!
This is not the best shot of my horsemanship (really) but I had given her her head to step down, and then she started rushing, and I didn't want her to think she could just charge out, so I'm scrambling a bit to gather her back to me. She did stop and stand for a minute before walking on out.
I climbed down, loosened her cinch, dropped her bridle and told her what a LOVELY GIRL she had been. I think we were both a little surprised at the feat of watery daring do.
After a 20 minute break, we were on our way again. Where all the climbing up the mountain had significantly reduced Maddie's energy, she was now rejuvenated, and the jigging resumed. But she crossed another slightly higher foot bridge, even stopping and standing quietly partway across when the horses in front of us had to wait for something. Beside the infernal jigging, the only nasty thing coming back down the mountain was an "airs above the ground" leap (I think it was a "levad") she made across one little puddle. The streaking wet farther down the road didn't much bother her, but in her mind that puddle was avoidable!
Here we are coming out of the canyon. It may look like Maddie's leading the group, but the cameraman and several others were ahead of us. I did make a point of having her in various parts of the group and behind different horses throughout the ride. It didn't make a difference in her rate--she wanted to be right behind whoever was in front of her. Shortly after this photo, I asked her to walk beside "Peaches" (the palomino to the right of us in this picture), who she had been crowding for much of the trip down. She actually seemed to like this arrangement, and settled partway down to a walk....until she realized we were almost back to the trailers
The resident GPS carrier said we did 8.28 miles, and we arrived back at the trailers almost exactly three hours after leaving them. It would have been a much more enjoyable ride if it had been at a walk, but the creek crossing more than made up for that.