Another beautiful day in the neighborhood... Trust me, it's coming your way. I just get the good weather first.
Lostine ran from the halter for the first time since I trained her not to run from the halter, so we had a refresher course. She decided she liked being petted more than the alternative.
This time I halted her at the end of the driveway and looked both ways before crossing the street. I told my trainer about the previous incident with the day care van and she had a grand old time making fun of me for not remembering what I was taught in kindergarten. Then she told me a story of how she was trying to train a spooky mare to cross a busy highway when there was a break in traffic, and they got halfway across and the mare spooked at the double yellow line. She wouldn't cross it. So, the lights in both directions turned green and she had traffic tied up for about two minutes while she urged the horse over the painted lines to the other side of the street. I think just about anyone else would have dismounted and led the horse in whichever direction it would go just to prevent an accident, but this trainer wasn't going to give up her goal of getting that mare over her fear even under those circumstances.
Anyway, Lostine and I made it across the street without incident, but she pitched her ears forward and halted when we came up a rise on the entrance trail. I looked where she was pointing and saw some large animal running around erratically on the trail up ahead. It looked like it was too big to be a coyote and it wasn't behaving like a coyote. My guess is it was a loose dog because it was running in circles with its head down like it was sniffing the ground and following a scent. I looked around for a hiker or horseback rider who the dog belonged to, but didn't see anyone. After the close call I had with two loose dogs a few weeks ago, I didn't want to approach it. I didn't even want it to see us, so I held Lostine still until it disappeared and was out of sight for a couple of minutes.
Unfortunately, that was the trail I was planning on taking, so I had to change my plans. We rode various trails for over an hour without any further incidents. Well, okay, she had one refusal at a sign on the side of the trail and walked backwards for about 10 yards while I was urging her forward. I turned her in a zigzag pattern and was able to get her past the sign. Just for that, I took her on a trail that I knew was loaded with signs, both upright and downed.
She struggled on rocky trails and going down and up small dips, so I had to improvise and switch trails any time I saw an incline or rocks ahead. When she spotted the house, she forgot about me, so I had to see-saw the reins to remind her that I control the speed, and she instantly slowed down and flicked an ear back to show me she was listening. So, this was my first trail ride alone on one of my horses without me having to dismount and lead the horse back. I've ridden without having to dismount before and I've ridden alone before, but never with those two factors working together since moving to the desert.
With each new step forward in our progress I feel a little more confident and free.