Somewhere in the last year, the pony grew a brain.
When we left off last fall, Fetti and I had made it out by ourselves a small handful of times. Nearly every one involved a decent amount of fighting and not much pony in front of my leg. Not much fun. In the past few weeks, she and I have been out by ourselves several times, and we're not yet totally traumatized.
Thursday, April 25th: 4.43miles, 1h 18min. 3.37mph. Slow ride with a friend's Walker.
Friday, April 26th: Trot poles in the round pen! Normally, one thinks of trotting raised cavaletti. Fetti thinks it is much more fun to canter and/or jump them. I dutifully set four up in a row, sent her out, and watched her prick her ears and canter through. She then trotted some (SIGH, STUPID HUMANS MAKING ME WORK!), I raised it up slightly. She cantered partway around.. looked directly at me.. and went to a BIG canter stride two strides out. Canter, canter, JUMP! across the first three trot poles. Impressive. Totally not what I was asking, and I am positive she knew that. We did, eventually, get her brain back into trotting (part of) the poles.
Saturday, April 27th: New boots arrived for Fetti's hinds. I booted up all four feet and went from the logical decision of doing a few laps in the woods, to the crazy idea of going out by ourselves and seeing how things went. No one else was around that would be interested in going with, so why not?
Out and across the river we went, with only very minor fussing. Forwards trot, forwards trot, do you really want to do this?, forwards trot, forwards trot. Not even a half-mile out, we saw horses walking towards us. Naturally, five horses and their riders walking home to our barn.. and the final two were two of the other Haflingers, Fetti's herd-mates. I have described Haflingers as "magnetic" in the past: where one goes, the others generally want to be, too. Throw in 'heading home' and 'one pony all by herself and not very confident about it' - and I'm pretty sure there were some not-very-polite things said when I figured out what we were getting ourselves into.
I fully expected Fetti to spin and follow when they passed us by. She tried to turn her nose; I hauled it back around facing forwards. There is a time and place for finesse, and that sure wasn't it. We stood for a few minutes. She wanted to turn, that was very clear, but when I finally asked for forwards, she gave it to me. We ended up doing 5.7 miles in 1h 39min, not quite 3.5mph, but a brisk enough pace when she was willing to trot. All things considered, I was exceedingly pleased with my crazy little horse.
..then we went back to the barn, picked up our Walker friend, and headed back out for another 4.58 miles in 1h 25min, 3.2mph.
Sunday, we did approx 2 miles in the morning to show another Haflinger rider the basics of the trails. Definitely a slow ride, an opinionated ride, and a few attempts at spooking. Not too bad.
We headed back out in the evening with Mr. Walker and Fetti's mom. 6.51miles, just out to the Deck and back. 2h 6min, 3.1mph. I'm not sure why this ride was so much longer than the Deck ride Fetti and I did in 5.7miles... except that aha, the tracking was started/stopped further out on the trail when I went the first time.
Monday I unexpectedly had the day off, so Miss Fetti got worked a FOURTH day in a row! Back out with the pair from Sunday night, we wandered down another trail to the river. Lots of downhill to deal with, so Fetti was slower on the way out; lots of uphill heading home, so we slowed down for the others to keep up. I was, however, happy with her forwards marching walk for the last hour heading home. 7.05miles, 2h 37min, 2.68mph. 3mph walk, you say? I don't think we can pull that off.
Tuesday was mainly arena work riding around with Fetti's sister. Her rider eventually had to head home, so I figured I'd head out for a short ride. Out to the ranger station we went: 1.16miles, 13min, 5.28mph. GOOD PONY!
Slowly but surely, I'm beginning to think we might be able to actually get in proper conditioning this year. I am so, so pleased with this crazy little horse.