Sunday, January 11, 2015

Nimo's Trail

The farm where I board Nimo is actually well over 300 acres.  Unfortunately for our riding goals, it is primarily a working farm, so the vast majority of the acres are in crop production and cannot be ridden on.  However, there is a road that runs through the farm as well as a couple of miles of trails in a section of the farm that is kept for timber production.  I actually don't ride around the farm too much, just because I typically trailer out for our conditioning rides on the weekends and it is usually dark when I ride during the week.  I once did attempt to ride on the wooded trails in the dark a few months ago, but that idea quickly lost its romanticism after we heard the baying of a hunting dog far too close to us, so we got out of the woods as soon as possible, and I've been sticking to arena riding at night for now.

Anyway, there is one trail - I call it the blue trail because it is marked with mostly blue ribbons - that I have begun to think of as Nimo's Trail.  I'm not sure exactly when I first noticed Nimo's affinity for this trail - maybe sometime over the summer?  While he is generally well-behaved at our rides off the farm, he can still act like an idiot when we ride around on the farm.  For example, yesterday, he tried to revert to his old spin-an-bolt behavior when he saw snow on a pile of dirt as we rode down the farm road.

However, when we are on Nimo's Trail, he doesn't act like that.  And it isn't that we are in the woods, or headed toward the barn, because he can still be a little uncomfortable on the orange-marked trail in the woods and his behavior on the blue-marked trail is consistent regardless of whether we are heading to or away from the barn.  I'm having trouble finding the right words to describe exactly how it feels, but he moves really forward (like a shift from his typical 3 mph walk to 4+ mph), yet not jiggy or pacey.  He's incredibly ratable, especially at the trot.  He is sensitive to my aids in a way that I have never felt in the arena.  And when I ask him to trot, he shifts into this almost unimaginable gear.  There is so much power coming from his hindquarters, but all of his muscles feel like they are moving smoothly and without any friction.  I always go into a half-seat for the trot on this trail because it is easier than posting.  In fact, maybe "effortless" is the best word to describe what happens.  It feels like we could continue indefinitely without either of us getting tired.  And we are connected and floating/flying over the ground.  I felt something similar toward the end of our first loop at the Fort Valley ride last year, but this trail is where the perfection really occurs consistently.

I think I have ridden my whole life in search of that feeling.  I have been blessed to have had a couple of horses in particular that were just amazing animals, but I never felt like how I feel with Nimo out on his trail.  There is no baggage there, no constant thoughts of how I should correct my position or ask Nimo for just a little bit more of whatever isn't quite enough, no worries that Nimo will spook.  It is just the melding of two very different species who have found a way to communicate and be with each other for a moment in time.


  1. This is such a beautiful post, Gail. Beautifully written. I hope you find many, many more moments with Nimo like you do on his trail.

  2. Rides like that are why we keep doing what we do, even when things get tough. You'll have to take pics of Nimo's Trail for us one of these days :)

    1. I suck at taking pictures:) But yes, I will get a picture at some point...soon:)