Yesterday, I was able to get in a trail ride at my former stables. I was joined by C and Breathe. I rode vaquero, my paso fino, C rode Lola, and Breathe rode Woody. I spent most of the afternoon cleaning my tack and making adjustments so as to be able to have everything needed to get all 3 horses ridden in the bits and reins I wanted to use. Before I knew it, I was late to the 6pm start time of the trail ride.
I hate running late, especially with horses. Just when you need to rush and get all the horses loaded perfectly, you can be sure one or all of them is going to be a problem.
Everybody loaded well, this time, and we arrived about 10 minutes late. I hurried to get everyone the tack they needed. Immediately, I knew Vaquero was going to be a problem. My crazy paso fino hadn't been worked in about 2 weeks, and he had LOTS of excess energy. There were new horses everywhere to get his attention. Also, Breathe grabbed Woody to tack him up and moved him out of sight of Vaquero, and this was VERY worrying for Vaquero, as Woody is his barn buddy and herd leader. I spent a few minutes longeing Vaquero, but I knew I didn't have his complete attention and that this ride was going to be spooky. But there was no more time for me to work him, as the call went out to mount up and move out.
About 100 yards into the trail ride, Vaquero's legs were moving like pistons, furiously pumping up and down, a sure sign he is WAY too revved up. I asked him for a side-pass to go around a tree, and he blew up, paso fino style. He gave two little bucks. I brought his head around to my boot on the right,and then to the left, a few times. The I gave him a few seconds to gather himself and calm down. And then we proceeded to continue on down the trail. I continued to ask for the side pass, and now he yielded willingly.
The rest of the trail ride went well. Actually, he did very well. I repeatedly asked for the side pass, both sides, as I maneuvered him around tree branches, bushes, etc. He performed admirably.
When I trail ride, I challenge myself to look well ahead on the trail and identify obstacles. I then try to position my horse with reins and legs to best negotiate the obstacle. I challenge myself to NOT have to lower my head or crouch over the horse's neck if there is ANY way to stay well mounted and avoid tree branches. I like my horses to be ready to move laterally if indicated. I like to imagine that my horse has "4 wheel steering" and ride them accordingly. I think it's a good way to improve my horsemanship.
Vaquero has a lot of "brio", that term that paso fino lovers surely made up to describe this breed's fiery little personality. Sometimes, I hate it, and wish I could dial it down to about a 2. But this horse will do anything I ask him to do. He's jumped fallen trees, logs, creeks, anything. I think he'd be the perfect trail horse if he could relax a bit more. He's vastly improved with me since I purchased him over a year ago, but I'd still rate his brio level 9/10 some times. But he has really improved my horsemanship, and he was a joy to ride, me mounted and moving fast with just a jiggle, no bouncing trot, side passing through openings in the branches just wide enough for my big head and hat.
Pretty cool stuff.