Out on the Trail

Jake's just cutting his third incisors on top at seven months of age but he's already an experienced trail horse. We pony him out with his dam, Tatti, and enjoy his company. 
Ponying a young colt is not for the faint of heart. I wear my padded winter pants, thick winter coat and of course, my helmet, and I don't mind getting a few scratches on the old saddle we're using.
Tatti is a seasoned pony horse so she knows that all that movement on my part can be safely ignored, while she knows she has to pay attention to my cues. She rides on a draped rein, responding to my leg and seat well, which is a good thing since I actually need three hands: I have the reins, Jake's rope and a crop to juggle. The crop prescribes my comfort zone: I want him to keep a respectful distance from me and my tack. We stay within the fenced confines of our property in case he gets loose, so he won't get out on the road.
I've been riding Tatti with the bitless bridle so if Jake grabs a rein in his mouth he won't hurt her mouth. He likes to bite and try to mount Tatti but that subsides as he gets into the ride. I'd been letting him go free in the woods, watching how he deals with downed trees and such, but last week I kept the rope on him and he didn't even wrap himself around any trees. I figure by the time he's ready to ride he will have already spent his childhood playing on the trail; so far he's showing a good attitude to whatever comes his way.
He's good company out there, a pleasure to watch as he explores new territory, and I hope he will be good company when it's his turn to carry a rider.

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