All I can say is WOW! What a great ride. There was a bump at the end (not figuratively speaking), but I'm not going to let that detract from writing about the great part. We'd (Doug and I) planned since yesterday that today would be Rogo's first real hack - we'd go up the beach with Doug and Savanah. Then today Doug had a sore foot so I decided to go out and work with Rogo on my own. My plan to hack out by myself only formed as I was grooming and tacking up. I didn't mention it to Doug, although he'd only have to look out the window to see we were gone and he'd know where we were. I knew if I went in to tell him he'd insist on coming with us, or try to talk me out of it and my intuition was telling me to go.
Rogo walked to the edge of the beach with Savanah the other day, but that's as far as he's gone - not much more than a stone's throw from the riding ring.
It was dusk, and we headed out the gate and down to the beach. The sky was a glorious pinky red as the sun set. Rogo was calm and forward - curious and happy but not at all spooky. He didn't neigh or look back once! Remember, he's never hacked out before - this was his first time. I find that remarkable. Even Savanah and Dan give a neigh or two when they leave home on their own, and they've been doing this for years.
Rogo had to walk by so many new things - big piles of seaweed that had just come in on a high tide, piles of drift wood, the remains of a big bonfire, different colored boulders. He wasn't the least bit concerned. My goal was to ride to two big concrete footings that are up the beach a distance, and they were the only thing he looked askance at. Since we were turning to go home then I hoped that he wouldn't associate that with them being scarey, but we met our goal so I turned back. We practiced halting and leg yielding on and off and it went very well. (Well, as well as it does in the riding ring - leg yield needs work!) We stayed at the walk for this ride, but I'll try a little trot heading away from home next time. He had to go down a little bank (only about 1 ft.) to get onto the beach and step up in going back. There were apples washed up there from the tide, so as a reward when we got back I stopped and let him eat three. He also had to pick his way through rocks to get onto the beach. He was very comfortable even though he's never been asked to do this, and went right along. He picked his feet up nicely in rocky areas, didn't take any stumbles, and while remaining nicely forward he didn't try to rush, either going or coming back. I'm VERY happy with him.
When we got back to the riding ring I asked for a trot an got a HUGE trot - Yippee! The magic bullet! He hasn't trotted like this for me in ages. To all those who told me that hacking was what he needed - you were right! The we slowed the trot and picked up a nice canter. It actually felt up hill to me at times and all of it was forward and nice. We did this in both directions.
Then came my stupidity. Rogo likes cavelleti and they were set out and he was trotting so happily that I decided to trot through them. I don't know if they were too close together for this big trot and he couldn't judge distance in the dusk (he did stretch his neck forward and down as I like him to to start through them), but at any rate he tripped on the second cavelleti and fell to his knees from quite a forward trot. I went sailing over his head, summer saulted and landed on the back of my neck, before completing the flip and coming down on my back. OMG - that could so easily have been bad - neck, extreme angle, hit hard.... I knew I was going to land this way as I was going through the air and I actually had a moment of being sure I was going to be badly injured. But by the grace of God I wasn't. I was surprised and hugely relieved when I was immediately able to move and get up :) Neither of us is hurt. He was standing beside me by the time I looked around and when I led him he was sound, so I got back on and just walked for a minute. Why this amazing horse trusts me I don't know. I sure don't deserve it when I do things like this without thinking.So that's my story for the night - a hugely great first hack, and a very lucky outcome to a fall.