The weather has cooled down and the leaves on the trees are really starting to change. It is a wonderful time of year for trail riding. It is even cool enough to chase most of the mosquitoes away--no more bug spray!
Kevin and I went out for a ride over by the show ring. It is always so pretty over there this time of year.
When we ride together, we usually put Starry in the lead. If he doesn't do enough time leading on our rides, he will simply refuse to go in the lead. It took us a couple years to break that habit, and Kevin doesn't want Starry to revert to it. Also, Cole prefers to follow most of the time. Since Starry typically goes fast enough at a trot for Cole, it works out great for us.
Well on this morning, Starry didn't want to trot fast. The slower Starry goes, the harder it is for Kevin to post, so poor Kevin was getting frustrated. Sometimes he would slow to nearly a walk. Sometimes, he even did start to walk.
Kevin started worrying that something was wrong with Starry. I kept saying that he just wanted Cole to pass, but you know how it is when you get an idea like that in your head. It is hard to get it out.
I didn't allow Cole to pass, because that would just reward Starry for it. Every single time Starry would slow down, Kevin said, "Is there something wrong with him?" I tried to reassure him, but I had to admit, Starry was incredibly persistent.
In spite of it all, we did have a very lovely ride. Even when we turned around to go home, though, Starry continued to try to stall out. Finally, Kevin begged me to put Cole in the lead. Reluctantly, I did. I asked Cole to trot, and he sped off like a motorboat. I guess he was tired of following a slow Starry. Kevin was laughing with glee. Starry could go fast, and he was sound. There was nothing wrong with him. After about a hundred feet of this with Cole only going faster and faster, I put an end to it. Kevin was upset, but I returned Cole to his proper position. We were mostly going to walk at this point, anyway.
Kevin did admit that when he was riding with another horse at the barn, his owner always wanted to ride in the lead. She wants to encourage him to be a confident leader. I suggested that they take turns. (He did talk to her about it, and she happily agreed.)
What we were wondering was why was Starry so bad compared to all the other rides this summer? As we walked on home, we were talking about how nice it was since there weren't any bugs pestering us. Starry hates bugs with a passion. He gets all agitated and if they are really bad, he doesn't even want to walk. When he does walk, he goes much faster than he does on bugless days.
Then it occurred to us--that is why he kept slowing down and even tried to walk--the bugs weren't bugging him! We were talking about it as Starry walked home; very, very slowly walked home.
Since then, I have been riding with Cole in the lead a few times during the ride so Kevin can trot faster. Cole has been quite calm when we do, so it is all working out. We just have to make sure that Starry in in the lead often enough so that he doesn't get balky about it.