First ride…

without shoes. It was 10 weeks since I last rode Cassie. I would have been a bit apprehensive to go out on my own after such a long break, Cassie is after all a young horse, but we had great company. Maíre came over with Ben and Rosie. Rosie happily joined Minnie in the field, and Maíre and I set out with Ben and Cassie. The track that leads from my place down to the road is steep and very stony and Cassie doesn’t like it, so we walked down and mounted at the bottom of the track. It was good to have Ben and Maíre’s company. Ben is a solid cob and Cassie likes him. I felt relaxed when I mounted Cassie and as a consequence, she was calm too and followed Ben down the road as if it was only a few days since our last ride.

Ben wore hoof boots on his front feet and Cassie was barefoot. Ben was striding out confidently and the only difference I saw with his usual manner on a hack was that he now showed a preference for grassy verges and actively looked for softer ground to walk on. Cassie was putting her feet down carefully. Unlike Ben though, she didn’t try to walk on the grass, but stayed on the road. She was slow. For the first time Cassie trailed behind Ben, who obviously enjoyed being in the lead for the whole hack instead of having to compete against Cassie’s longer stride. She did not want to trot, so we just walked the whole way.

It was a beautiful, cold, wintry day and it was a great day to be out for a ride with my lovely mare in good company. I had missed going out for rides. Reflecting on how she coped with the road, I have decided to get boots for her front feet. Even though she did really well, and showed no signs of lameness or soreness, I still think that it will be helpful over the next few months, especially if we want to go into the forestry, where some of the tracks are quite rough.

When we got back, I put out hay and mixed the evening feeds. Cassie patiently waited until I was ready and seemed happy and content. It was peaceful in the yard and I sat down on a bale of hay to listen to the horses munching their feed and watch the full moon rising over the hills. A perfect Sunday.

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