Yesterday afternoon I had just enough time to shoehorn a ride in between all my obligations. I opted for a road/field ride because the arena sand is already dry and shifty (we're supposed to get significant rainfall this weekend which will improve the footing greatly). After passing the winery, I decided to head downhill between the winery and the vineyard, a route we haven't taken in a long time. Normally at this time of year the ground would be muddy and slick, but with our unusually dry, warm weather, it was solid and safe – important should Lance decide to bolt or buck. He was a little worried about passing a different side of the winery, but didn't lose his nerve.
About halfway down the first 20 acres of grapes, Lance spotted danger – men pruning the vines. He "stopped, locked, and loaded" – a perfect description of his mental and physical reaction. At this point, when he's gone as rigid, immobile and unheeding as a marble statue, I know I won't be able to ride him calmly past the dragon(s). My two options are 1) waiting until he launches and hoping to keep him between me and the ground (I haven't failed yet but it's always a possibility), or 2) dismount quickly before he moves and lead confidently on foot. I hopped off and lead him to the end of that vineyard, remounting to ride between the next vineyard and the peach orchard just starting to bloom. I thought about snapping a photo or two from the saddle, but Lance was still on high alert so that didn't seem wise.
We made it to the end of the peach orchard, did a couple turns on the haunches, and started back up past the peach orchard. The workers in the vineyard ahead were closer to our end of the rows now; Lance stopped, locked and loaded again. Oh well; that gave me a reason to get off and take flower photos!
Lance was a horse kite as I lead him past the workers, so we walked up and down the hill beside the dragons until most of the fire had left MY dragon. Then I remounted and we proceeded up the hill towards home. There was one more planned dismount to lead Lance past a man with a clipboard standing at the gate in the fence line between the winery property and the vineyard who hadn't been there before.
We were both sweaty at the end of all that hill walking on a warm day – although I'm pretty sure some of Lance's was flop sweat!
Oh, and shedding season is now in full swing. Don't wear Chapstick to the barn!