Prestigious V. Audacious PS x Pretty Pauline V.
I'd ridden him once for about five minutes in the arena, and he seemed very nice. Bright. Flashy. Innocent. He had been out of the arena, but not much and not far. He and Roy settled into their little pens at the V6 Ranch horse camp with a pile of alfalfa. Boy it was good to be back. There is no place on earth like the V6. Twenty thousand acres of beautiful California countryside that is owned by Jack Varian, Sheila's cousin. I could go on about this ranch, but that's a whole different story. You'll just have to google and then go there to know exactly what I mean by that. You won't be sorry.
In the morning, my cousin Rachelle, and I saddled our horses. I saddled Roy, pivoted around and picked up the lead line for Prestigious. I'm pretty sure he'd never been ponied before. He was a little pushy but I gave him a little shove on the side of his head when he'd crowd us and he figured it right out. We just went on a short flat ride for about an hour and a half. After all the rain in California, the creeks were all full, the flowers in full bloom, the grass was green and the sun was out. Prestigious hesitated the first time at the creek but when Rachelle's horse passed him up, he leapt over it, crashing into Roy's butt and hopping about. On we went.There was plenty more water ahead. The next creek he did better, then better still. We came to some pillars that Jack built made of rocks put into a circle of fencing. Pretty weird looking. Prestigious decided no way was he following Roy through, pulled back and got loose. He watched us on the other side of the opening. After letting him snort and look and think about it for a minute, I walked back calmly and picked up his lead and he followed us right though. "He's a smart one," I said to myself.
In the afternoon most of the guests had arrived, and at 4:00 we saddled again and were ready to ride. There were probably about twenty riders and we rode out, crossing the creeks and climbing some pretty big hills. Prestigious went right along, I think he was enjoying the day as much as the rest of us. "He's a happy one," I said to myself.
Some of the horses were a little bit fresh and as one of the "wranglers," I thought the next day I may need to switch horses with someone or do something that would require me to be on an experienced horse, and I learned that we would be at the headquarters all day, about 2 miles from camp. I left a big pile of alfalfa for Prestigious and left him there with a couple of horses in pens nearby. We had a great day playing with the cattle and chatting through lunch, the whole group lined up on picnic tables under the giant oak trees.
Then the rain came. Friday it drizzled all day long. I had rain blankets for both horses, but just because it's raining, that doesn't mean everything comes to a stop. We rode out during the day but I left Prestigious tucked in his blanket in his pen. Heck, I have all summer with him, why rush it.
As it turned out, it was not until Sunday that I actually rode Prestigious. this was fine with me, since it gave him time to get comfortable with where he was and with all the other horses. He'd been cooped up for a few days and also I'd never really ridden him before, so after I saddled him, I took him down the the arena and clipped the lunge line to his halter.
"kiss kiss" and he loped off to the right. I'd taken off my back cinch. The straps where you buckle in the back cinch slapped at his sides and my strings behind the saddle flew out as he ran. He made just one or two slight bucks, and was running, nostrils flared and tail high. I asked him to change direction a few times and with a few soft "whoas" he slowed to a trot. Soon he was locked on to me and trotting, stopping, turning, when asked. I slipped the snaffle in his mouth and climbed aboard. David had shown up on Roy and we walked around the arena together, then went to join the group. I'd forgotten my hat, but more importantly, I'd prepared my horse.
The Manzanita Trail is a beautiful ride, about 4 or 5 miles I would guess. We kept to the front where he was comfortable. He was very alert but relaxed at the same time, just observing everything and carefully placing his feet. The trail climbed steeply and weaved through the thick manzanita bushes. At the top we stopped for the Quarter Horses to rest (that's a dig for John Varian, he is such a tease). I carefully unzipped my jacket and tied it to the back of my saddle. Thank you Jamie. Prestigious stood still, just checking out the view and all the other horses. As we all know, what goes up must come down, and the trail down is quite steep. I rounded his back to help him balance with his feet under him but he was a little unsure, so I put him right directly behind Roy's tail, not letting him pass, and we followed him all the way down. On the flat, riding back toward camp, I began to put him in the middle of the group, then in the back, then out to the left and right, but would do that for just a little while and then go back to the front where he felt the most comfortable. Just as I was about to start bragging on him, he started to get a little jiggy and prancy. "What the heck is this?" I wondered. Then I noticed the photographer ahead of us a little to the side, hiding under a big bush. No wonder he powered up. She did look very much like a predator.
At the water trough in camp, he took a nice long drink of water. Such a good boy. Happy camper, joyful and trusting partner. I'm so looking forward to summer days in the mountains with this handsome boy.