Oologah Lake is one of my favorite places to ride, so when my friend Rachael texted me yesterday morning to ask if I wanted to meet her for a spontaneous trial ride, I couldn’t say no! The weather was pretty excellent, too: mid-60s and sunny. (The wind was awful, but when isn’t it in Oklahoma?)
Candy loaded with basically no fuss, which is an definite improvement over every other time I’ve hauled her somewhere. In the past, she’s been very reluctant to get in the trailer at all, and once in, stands trembling until she starts stuffing her face with hay. I don’t know why she’s so weird about it; I try to drive carefully (although she has been in the trailer when I had to hit the brakes hard), my trailer is plenty spacious, and she seems to enjoy the activities we participate in once she’s off the trailer. Maybe the long haul from Florida with my friend’s fussy Saddlebred gelding was traumatic- who knows?
My neighbor tagged along on a funny little mare she bought from one of Oklahoma’s horse auction lots that regularly ships horses to be slaughtered. The mare is a compact, large pony-sized creature that is hopefully destined for a career as a lesson horse. Her past is largely unknown, so my neighbor thought this would be a good opportunity to see how the mare would behave on a trail ride.
Once we arrived and unloaded the horses, the little mare and Candy spent a couple of minutes sniffing and squealing at each other. Candy scooted to hide around the side of the trailer while I tacked her up, while the little mare continued to grunt and squeal any time Candy poked her head around the trailer to look at her.
We mounted up and set off with Rachael and her trusty hunt horse Fiona leading the way. Someone was hunting a beagle pack at the lake; we could hear them very clearly and headed in the opposite direction! Candy occasionally flicked an ear toward the sound of the beagles, but wasn’t at all perturbed by the noise. She seemed content to follow the other mares on the trail, and was much more relaxed than she had been on Sunday. My neighbor suggested that maybe Candy was more comfortable because the group was smaller- she was only out with two other horses instead of seven. I think that’s certainly a possibility. She’ll hopefully become more comfortable with larger groups as she gets out more frequently.
The lake trails were in pretty good shape; there’s a very dedicated group of volunteers who have been working hard on keeping them clear for the last few months. The footing was deep and mucky in a couple of spots, but Candy gamely plowed through without hesitation. After riding for about an hour, we reached our turnaround point on the shore of the lake. The wind was so strong that there were whitecaps on the lake- it looked like we’d arrived at the ocean! Candy wasn’t sure about the waves and stared at them for a few seconds before trying to hide behind my neighbor’s mare. That was the last straw for the mare, who’d spent most of the ride looking behind her to make sure Candy wasn’t too close and swishing her tail in irritation. She kicked out and grazed Candy’s right forearm. Candy squealed and spun to retaliate; I kicked her forward away from the mare before she could land a kick on her hindquarters.
Candy’s leg appeared perfectly fine, save for some missing hair and a very minor scrape. She stayed well away from the mare as we made our way back to the trailhead, and we arrived at the trailer without any further incidents.
I’m so pleased with Candy’s behavior on yesterday’s ride! She was totally calm, very relaxed, and didn’t spook at a thing (even when the other horses were giving tree branches and bridges the hairy eyeball)! She’s such a sensible mare and fun to ride. The weather’s supposed to take a turn for the worse this weekend, so I’m not sure when we’ll be able to get out again. I’m glad I got to take advantage of yesterday’s sunny skies, though!