Today, *Jack and *Leo got on the trailer for their first ever trailer ride. We had Guin's BF, Chellis, ride in the back with them. This is, of course, not really recommended; however we were going only about 3 miles and it is very reassuring for a couple of youngsters on their first ride to have someone along that they know.
We took them up to Groton State Forest. Here's a link to just one of their camp grounds: http://www.vtstateparks.com/htm/newdiscovery.cfm The Forest is quite horse friendly and has many miles of multi-use trails. Because we were only going to be there a short while, the Forester I spoke with a few days before recommended that we actually park up the road from that spot at a parking lot used for day hikers, and in the winter, snowmobilers. We were the only ones there today (and it was a lovely day, weather-wise!). Here we are after off-loading the boys and before heading out on the trail.
Because we have a large camera we decided not to take it with us this first time, so we don't have shots of them on the trail with us; however I'll do my best to describe what we saw and how the boys reacted.
The trail we took followed the roadway for a bit, always with trees and bushes between the trail and road. Come Autumn, you would be able to see the cars, but today we just heard them. The trail was wide enough to comfortably walk by the horses' sides. It wound up and down, strewn with small rocks and branches. Sun dappled the trail between the overhead leaves, while ferns, tall grass, brambles, and other horses' manure were underfoot. The manure was of particular interest to young *Leo; although *Jack had to have a sniff once in a while too. There were large boulders occasionally to the side of the trail, and sometimes you could spy an old rock wall in the nearby trees.
Everything was worthy of investigation, and we took our time to stop and taste-test or just bury our noses in and SNIFF! *Leo and Chuck led the way. *Leo is a very forward horse, and did not like being behind *Jack who was happy to amble along checking things out. The only item that evoked a startle on the trail, was when *Leo spied a boulder with, OMG, branches on it!!!! The startle response? He stopped and stared at it and wanted Chuck to lead him by. *Jack thought it needed thorough investigation, so we "touched the monster" and received a treat. Once *Leo saw *Jack getting a treat, he needed to return to "touch that monster" too.
Before long we found a place that was open enough for us to turn them around and head back. Our goal was just to get them out and about, with that trailer ride to and from, so we didn't feel we needed to walk a long way.
On the way back *Leo, still in the lead, slowed down and wanted to really check things out, as did *Jack. *Jack was particularly curious about the various trees. Chuck feels that *Leo demonstrated curiosity and braveness, while at the same time needing to have that quiet competent leader next to him. He particularly enjoys it when Chuck drapes an arm across his back and walks beside him in that position. *Jack was unsure. He wants to be brave, but he also wants to be careful. So watching his feet was important to him (*Leo was too busy gawking, Chuck said and tripped over rocks constantly, lol) *Jack gained a lot of confidence because *I* was there to tell him how great and wonderful it all was. I could see by the wrinkles over his nostrils that there was some worry, and when it got too much for him, he would reach over with his nose and touch my hand. I spent some time rubbing his neck and reassuring him that he was a lovely, smart, brave boy as we walked along.
The only other spook occurred here as we investigated the perimeter of the parking lot. Suddenly *Jack leaped toward me, although only going perhaps a foot, and not running into me. I had no clue what had startled him, because it certainly didn't startle *Leo. Then Chellis mentioned he had seen a toad over in that area. Perhaps that was it.
The boys then very easily loaded back up into the trailer, and away we went home again.
A highly successful first trip!!