Kessy and I have been partners since May 2010. I've often written here about her progress from, just learning that leaving the safety of her barn and woods could be fun, to puddle fears and recently the trailer fun. Yesterday Kessy took another step on her journey to mastering the joys and wonders outside her "Hundred Acre Woods." We call her backyard that in a hat tip to Winnie the Pooh.
Yesterday was Kessy and my 214th explore the trail together adventure. But there was a big difference to yesterday's romp and all the others. We had trail buddies, a wonderful mule named Molly and her partner Chris Cooper. What a grand time we had!
Since moving here with Ravishin' Robbie and me, Kessy learned that trail exploration is exciting, she's come from being unwilling to venture even a hundred yards from her barn to being totally comfortable with gaiting smoothly over miles and miles of trails. At first that took weeks and months of dismounting and leading. In the beginning we walked more miles than we rode, and I had to tote my cane because walking doesn't go all that great for me. We'd walk a little and sit a little, walk a little and sit some more, and on and on, until one day Kessy decided, "Hey this trail thing is alright."
One disadvantage that Kessy endured these past 27 months is she's the only horse here. Her herd mates are the chickens, dogs, especially Saturday, cats, Ravishin' Robbie and me. So being the only horse she did not have the benefit of learning from a wise old trail master. Something I know is very important to horses. But our situation dictates we limit our horse herd to one, so I've always done my best to be Kessy's herd mate. But I also always knew there would come a time when Kessy would need to experience trail exploration with other horses, and worried a bit about how that might play out.
Chris and I met the other day when I was driving down the road and she was riding her Davenport Arabian stallion, I stopped to say howdy. I could see immediately by the demeanor, and condition of her horse, that Chris was a wonderful person. We stood along the road and chatted, then later I was treated to a tour of her outfit, met all her horses, and her fabulous mule, Molly. I told her about Kessy and that it was time to introduce her to riding with others and asked her help. Without hesitation, Chris said she'd be happy to help.
Knowing this might be a big step for Kessy, I asked if she could trailer to our place and introduce Kessy to riding with other horses on trails she feels completely familiar and safe with. Again, without hesitation Chris said she'd do that.
What a perfect day we had!
When Chris and Molly arrived Kessy was curious, but polite and never showed any signs of anxiousness. Kessy and I had worked months learning to stand perfectly still as I mount, not only because it is the mannerly thing to do, but I'm pretty clumsy about it, and she stood at the mounting block as she'd been taught, even though Molly was only a few feet away.
Down the trail we went, sometimes Kessy leading, sometimes Molly leading, sometimes side by side. But always at a peaceful, pleasant walk. Molly even showed Kessy it is indeed okayto walk right through a scary old puddle, and Kessy followed easily.
We had a great ride in the morning sun, bird watching and enjoying the fall colors. And each other's company. Both Molly and Kessy acted as if we'd been riding together for years.
When Chris and Molly had to leave, there was no separation anxiety; Kessy munched her hay as if it were just another day. I did sit with her a while and told her what a great job she did, and how proud I was of her. Chris and Molly, Kessy and I have plans to do this again next week, then we'll begin to add new territories in the mix, too.
Kessy and I thank you so much Chris and Molly for all your help! ~ Dutch